In 2017, Rainbow Village established its Women’s Giving Circle as a means for women with a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism to connect while increasing awareness about family homelessness and promoting the concept of “giving” of one’s time, talent and treasure. In 2020, the group established its “Be the Change” Microgrants Initiative to benefit members of the nonprofit’s Aspire Residential and Thrive Alumni Programs. Over the last two years, the group has raised and awarded $16,800 to help current residents and alumni overcome obstacles in the path to achieving their goals. On December 7, Women’s Giving Circle members, community guests, Rainbow Village staff and microgrant applicants gathered at the Duluth Festival Center to celebrate the holidays, the organization’s many victories over the course of the last year, and bestow a series of small grants to deserving recipients at its largest grand total to date: $23,650.
“This has become one of my favorite nights of the year,” said Rainbow Village CEO Melanie Conner. “As I looked around that room, I thought to myself ‘THIS is what the holidays are all about – coming together to bestow gifts and bring joy.’ Only these microgrants bring more than joy. They bring meaningful change. The finish line is in sight for many of our resident applicants. They’re nearing the end of our program, but they have a hurdle to clear before they can get there. These microgrants help them pay off medical bills, student loans, business license application fees and so much more that may have been weighing them down or keeping them from saving what they need to pursue self-sufficiency.”
Marking the top honor for the night, the Barbara Howard High Achiever Award was bestowed upon a very deserving Adrian K., who has been a resident of Rainbow Village for a little over a year. Named in honor of the late Barbara Howard, this award reflects Howard’s energy, enthusiasm and inspiration. In addition to being the owner of Georgia-based food processing company, Susanna’s Kitchen, for 55 years, Howard and her husband were prolific philanthropists. She supported Rainbow Village in a wide variety of ways including serving as the capital campaign chair to aid in building the Duluth campus. Her hard work and dedication helped the organization raise over $6 million to provide housing for families experiencing homelessness.
The Rainbow Village Women’s Giving Circle is a diverse, dynamic and generous group of women engaged in an exciting venture of strategic philanthropy. Gatherings are held quarterly and often involve a speaker, food, beverages, games, prizes and fun. The kickoff meeting for 2023 will be held in March. For more information and to register on the Women’s Giving Circle, go to rainbowvillage.org/womens-giving-circle.