WE CAN History
WE CAN has its beginnings in a Cape Cod Community College program called "Women in Transition"(WIT), a program designed by then-Dean of Students Richard Sullivan, and staff member Dorothy Burrill to help women of all ages and demographics improve their lives through education. When the program ended in 2000, several women, including Cape Cod Community College advisor Dr. Jacquie Scarbrough and some of those who had benefited from the WIT program, realized the need was still there. They met and formulated what became WE CAN --Women's Empowerment through Cape Area Networking-- with Sullivan helping to raise the initial funds to get the program off the ground
That first year, WE CAN helped 15 women, with guidance on options, including how to get back to school, and connections to volunteers for mentoring and support; help with filling out forms for emergency fuel assistance, financial aid for education, job applications; and information and referrals to other organizations on the Cape.
During 2011, our 10th anniversary year, the 7th annual "Day of Words, Wit and Wisdom," which was launched 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 early December 2011, WE CAN published its first Annual Report and held our first Annual Meeting, which was also an opportunity to celebrate the conclusion of our 10th year of serving Cape women. The event, which drew more than 250 people, featured WE CAN Champion Award winners [link to program w/ bios]; winners of the 10-Word Story contest [link to something]; and "The Women of WE CAN," program participants who briefly told their own stories [link to video?].
Today, the Options [link] program, originally created to help women return to school, is now a centralized intake process to WE CAN's interconnected set of programs:
- PathMakers WE CAN's signature program, offers mentoring for women with a focus on setting and achieving goals and mutual learning and support over a 10-month period. Operating at capacity, this highly successful program continues to expand to support increasing numbers of women.
- Work Support services that support women on career exploration, resume development and more, to meet a growing need for women who contact WE CAN.
- "From Surviving to Thriving: Life Out of the Trenches," a 6-week program is designed to bring participants out from behind what holds them back, guide them to clarify what is important for them and their family, and set them on a life path of greater achievement and fulfillment. A follow up series, "Thriving with a Blast" is also available to graduates of the first series. Both programs are presented by Certified Professional Life Coach, Maggie French.
- One-to-one Financial Empowerment consultations with financial professionals on topics that can range from creating a realistic budget, planning for the future, or taking steps to solve a difficult financial situation.
- Free one-to-one 30 minute Legal Consultations for low and moderate income women with local attorneys on legal issues involved in divorce; child custody and support; landlord/tenant issues; wills and estate planning; tax issues; immigration; employment and other concerns. Legal workshops, including a half-day Divorce Boot Camp is offered by an attorney with expertise in family law, providing specialized help and essential forms and other materials.; two-hour Family Law Overview workshop, "Everything You Wanted to Know about Family Law but Were Afraid to Ask", and a two-hour workshop entitled "Demystifying the Child Support Process", conducted by attorneys from the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Revenue.
As needs are expressed to us through the women in our programs and our referral lines, we respond with additional workshops, tailored training opportunities and support sessions, often in collaboration with other non-profits.
All of this is made possible by dozens of dedicated professionals and others who volunteer their time; through grants from groups and foundations; and by local businesses that provide financial support and in-kind services.
During 2011, our 10th anniversary year, we served approximately 1200 women with a broad range of programs and services, achieved financial stability and grew beyond what our founders could ever have imagined.
But some things haven't changed at WE CAN: 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.
Click here to view or print the WE CAN brochure.