WE CAN had its beginnings in a Cape Cod Community College program called “Women in Transition”(WIT), which was designed to help women of all ages and demographics improve their lives through education. When the program ended in 2000, several individuals realized the need was still there. They met and formulated what became WE CAN —Women’s Empowerment through Cape Area Networking.
That first year, 2001, WE CAN helped 15 women, providing guidance on options, including how to get back to school, and making connections to volunteers for mentoring and support; helping to complete forms for emergency fuel assistance, financial aid for education, job applications; and offering information and referrals to other organizations on the Cape.
By 2011–our 10th anniversary year–we served approximately 1200 women with a broad range of programs and services. We had achieved financial stability by then, and had grown beyond what our founders could ever have imagined.
During 2011, “A Day of Words, Wit and Wisdom”– launched in 2004 by a group of volunteers including authors Joan Anderson and Anne LeClaire– sold out to 350 people, tripled sponsorship, and raised more than $55,000 to support programs at WE CAN. (In 2014, the event sold out to 410+ people, requiring us to increase Wychmere Beach Club’s capacity by erecting a tent where 70 people viewed the program via simulcast! Thanks to the generosity of our business sponsors, net proceeds from the event topped $90,000!)
That year, 2011, we also published our first Annual Report and held our first Annual Meeting, which was an opportunity to celebrate the conclusion of our 10th year serving Cape women. The event, which drew more than 250 people, honored several individuals, including WE CAN’s founders and key volunteers, winners of the 10-Word Story contest, and “The Women of WE CAN,” program participants, who briefly told their own stories.
At the beginning of 2013, following a highly successful capital campaign, we moved into a permanent home on Route 28 in Harwich Port with a sign prominently displayed for all to see. This increased visibility and a broadened awareness of the effective work WE CAN does across the Cape community, drove tremendous growth in the number of women we served in a very short period of time. In the first nine months of 2014, we handled over 5200 contacts, and nearly 2000 women participated in our programs or received services.
To keep pace with the growing demand for our programs and services, and to meet the emerging needs of women from all Cape communities, in late 2014 we launched a capital campaign “Keeping Our Commitment”, with the goal of raising $250,000. These funds will be used to help us build collaborative relationships to expand service delivery, expand our office space, and completely upgrade our technology.
Over the past 15 years, much has changed at WE CAN: the range of programs and services we provide; the number of women of all ages who turn to us for support; and the breadth of support for WE CAN.
But some things haven’t changed at all: in early 2001, the first WE CAN newsletter said, “WE CAN is dedicated to empowering Cape women through mentoring, information, education, networking and support.” We remain firmly committed to that mission.
For our most recent annual report, click here.
To view or print the WE CAN brochure click here