Women’s Impact Network celebrates 8 years of community support

Reporting for WIN:  Jenny Callison and Lynne Herndon

It was a splendid day and a beautiful venue for the 8th annual Women’s Impact Network luncheon at Figure 8 Island Yacht Club on May 23, 2019. As the sun shone through the picture windows overlooking the marina, the Chair of the WIN Board of Directors, Kristine Moore, reflected on why we were there.

“This is a celebration of our working together through philanthropy and making a difference in our community,” she said in her introductory remarks to the 100 members, guests, and award winners in attendance. “Over eight years we have awarded more than $315,000 to 18 New Hanover County not-for-profits."

In introducing WIN's grant focus area for this year, Kristine quoted from Hippocrates, often regarded as the father of medicine, who said, "Health is the greatest of human blessings,” noting that “This statement underscores why WIN is focused on Health & Wellness.”

She acknowledged the generous contributions of the event sponsors and the centerpiece contributors who had customized promotional displays and freebies at each table, noting that each are listed in the luncheon program.  Kristine then thanked the chair of the Education Committee, Liz Kachris-Jones; the chair of the Large Grants Committee, Isabella Hinds; and the chair of the Small Grants Committee, Kendall Hurt, for facilitating the awards process this year.  

Kristine also recognized the hard work of past WIN chair Linda Brown, who chairs the Events Committee, and Membership Committee chair Carol Kennedy, who worked closely with Linda in planning and executing the luncheon.

Kristine outlined new and continued activities in 2019. She highlighted the focus on philanthropy, which has always been the core principle of WIN. Members have expressed a desire to learn more about one another’s philanthropic involvement and many members are interested in volunteer opportunities. She announced that in June/July a member/new member event will measure where WIN members are active elsewhere in the community, producing a “heat map” of the membership’s interests and commitments; she also mentioned regular updates on how our grant recipients are faring with their intended goals and identifying volunteer opportunities; and she described a new idea where members can get together in small discussion groups to share ideas on topics of interest such as “What is Impact?.”  A new Philanthropy Team is being formed in WIN, led by Sharon Stewart to kick-off this renewed focus on Philanthropy.

Members were happy to hear Kristine announce the launch of the WIN website, at www.winofnhc.org. The website allows members to read features and news from the board, as well as community stories about WIN activities, and facilitates joining WIN as well as renewing membership. A member directory will make it easier for members to learn about and contact fellow members. 

The luncheon speaker was Dr. Kelly Kimple, Chief of the Women’s and Children’s Health Section, Division of Public Health, at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in Raleigh. Dr. Kimple is a pediatrician, a North Carolina native, and an advocate for children’s health. She described her view of health and wellness as deriving from early childhood.

“Health is complicated,” she said. “We spend 90% of our budget on medical care, but the wellbeing of individuals and the community as a whole depends on many factors outside of disease. Food security, housing, transportation, nutrition, genetics, and behavior contribute to wellbeing, and they receive so little in comparison.” 

She then outlined her view of the critical importance of early brain development in children as a determinant of future health outcomes. “Brains are built,” she said. “Human beings are dependent on interaction especially early in life, and up to 10 years. Social and personal growth is the foundation of life across generations.”

“Early development shapes the brain’s architecture. Adverse childhood experiences, such as neglect, hunger, and abuse cause toxic stress, which impairs social, emotional and cognitive development. More than half our population in North Carolina suffers from some degree of health risk from trauma. For example, we must ask the question, ‘is it ADHD or adversity?’ which causes a child to suffer, and adults to develop heart disease. This enormous public health threat is largely not addressed.”

On a positive note, Dr. Kimple noted that children are very resilient and that support can make an impact. Her goal to drive health through education and prevention, and to reduce stress caused by poverty and violence has the best chance of success in promoting healthy children and an engaged community. 

That concluding statement formed the perfect segue into the luncheon highlight:  the announcement and introduction of WIN's 2019 grant recipients. Most of this year's recipients reflected WIN members' support for programs that give children and their families a foundation for lifetime health.

For the second year, the large grant fund was divided in half and two grants awarded in this year's focus area of health and wellness.

MedNorth and Nourish NC each received $12,000, the first half of their total $24,000 grant. The second increment is expected to be paid in about six months, after each organization submits a progress report.

MedNorth, which serves primarily New Hanover County's uninsured and underinsured population with primary care, dental services and behavioral health care, plans to use its grant to enhance its services through purchases in four areas:

  • ·      Blood pressure monitors for patients who will use them to manage and report their blood pressure.
  • ·      Car seats for newborns whose families cannot afford them. Althea Johnson, MedNorth CEO, believes that having a car seat will encourage more new mothers to bring their newborns to the clinic within the first five days of birth for well-baby checks, and to visit the clinic themselves for post-natal checkups.
  • ·      Wire loops used in a treatment known as Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) to remove abnormal cells from women's cervixes, therefore reducing the incidence of cervical cancer.
  • ·      A new autoclave to sterilize instruments.

Steve McCrossan, CEO of Nourish NC, said his organization will use its grant funds for two programs that have shown great promise during recent pilot periods:

  • ·      A partnership with Nunnelee Specialty Pediatric Clinics, which serve chronically ill children, that will provide - in the doctors' offices - boxes containing 25 meals' worth of food and a voucher for fresh produce and meats, to patients identified as suffering from food insecurity.
  • ·      Toddler Tummy, a program that will send the same box and voucher with personnel from Smart Start and Coastal Horizons who make home visits to clients with young children.

"Food insecurity has a very debilitating effect on a child's mind and body," McCrossan said. "Food is medicine."

Three New Hanover County organizations received small grants.

The DisAbility Resource Center will use its $2,000 grant to compile a health and wellness resource guide to help the population it serves.

Smart Start of NHC plans to apply its $3,500 grant to its ABC (Attachment and Bio-Behavioral Catchup Positive Parenting program, which helps very young children who have had adverse experiences form secure attachments to their caregivers.

With its $4,500 grant, Wilmington Lions Club will purchase a tonometer, a gauge used to measure the fluid pressure inside the eye - an indicator of glaucoma. The new tonometer will be used by eye care professionals working through community outreach programs.

Large Grants Committee co-chair Maureen Vasquez introduced Yasmin Tomkinson and Gareth Evans, whose organizations - Cape Fear Literacy Council and the Bellamy Mansion Museum, respectively - received large grants in  2018. The executives updated luncheon attendees on their progress in carrying out their grant-funded projects. The work of the two 2018 small grant awardees was also acknowledged.

WIN's grant focus area for 2020 will be the environment.

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