Women’s Giving Fund shares message of inspiration with Park City girls | ParkRecord.com

Women’s Giving Fund shares message of inspiration with Park City girls

Lauren Vitulli and Katie Wright want to make one thing clear to local girls: You can be anything you want.

That’s why the pair helped create the Women’s Giving Fund’s mentoring program, in which women from the community meet with young girls and share messages of inspiration. Vitulli, the Women’s Giving Fund’s mentoring coordinator, said it’s vital for girls to learn they’re capable of anything.

"It’s really important," she said. "I hear from so many women who were told they couldn’t be a pilot or couldn’t run a business or be a doctor. And now they are. A lot of those are the women now participating in the mentoring program. They didn’t have anyone to tell them they could do it, and just a little bit of support is huge for these girls."

The mentoring program, which is funded by a grant from Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise program, has several components. Women can speak with preschool-aged girls at Holy Cross Ministries’ school readiness program; with girls participating in Ecker Hill Middle School’s Girls on the Run program; or at a weekly event during the school year at Ecker Hill called the Power Lunch, where women discuss topics such as leadership, finding one’s passion and healthy eating.

Wright, executive director of the Park City Community Foundation, the catalyst for the Women’s Giving Fund, said it’s particularly important to connect with the middle school-aged girls.

"That’s the age when girls start disengaging," she said. "They start taking easier courses, dropping out of sports, participating less in clubs. So it’s a really good time to try to reengage them. And for some reason, in our community we offer a lot at the elementary level and again in high school, but we sort of leave them alone at the moment they need it."

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The mentoring program ran throughout the recent school year and will continue next year. Vitulli said the program is seeking more mentors, and the hope is to expand to Treasure Mountain Junior High, as well.

"I’m really excited about it," Vitulli said. "This program is new, so I’m really excited to see some of the same girls next year and the progress they’ve made."

As well as the mentoring program, the Women’s Giving Fund is doling out a grant to a local non-profit that supports women and children. The grant program was started in 2013 when the fund asked 1,000 women to each donate $1,000 to create an ongoing endowment to fund a substantial annual grant.

This year, there are three finalists for the $30,000 grant, and the winner will be voted on by the Women’s Giving Fund’s members, Wright said. The winner will be unveiled in a ceremony July 2.

Wright said all three finalists have a lot to offer the community, making it a difficult choice for voters. One of the finalists, P.C. Tots, is a program created by the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust and Holy Cross Ministries to provide high-quality, affordable child care.

"We have a real challenge here with very few and very expensive childcare options," Wright said. "So what happens is, especially in low-income families, you’ll have children in unsafe environments, in homes with too many children and unlicensed people caring for them."

Another finalist, the Summit County Children’s Justice Center, provides support for children who have been victimized by sexual assault, Wright said. The center helps them through the legal system without reliving the trauma of their abuse, and ensures evidence of the abuse is properly collected.

The last finalist is a Peace House program that provides women who have been victimized by domestic violence with mentors who have successfully escaped abusive relationships.

"What they’ve found is when you create those relationships, women tend to go back (to their abusers) less," Wright said.

Members of the Women’s Giving Fund can visit theparkcityfoundation.org for more information.

"The nice thing is I think it’s raising awareness for all three of the causes," Wright said. "I hope they all secure donations and volunteers from this."