Updated: Aug 11
HARWICH — WE CAN has been supporting and empowering women who are going through major life transitions and challenges for the past 20 years.
To celebrate its anniversary, the Harwich-based non-profit is seeking to improve those services for women with a new $500,000 fundraising campaign which has already garnered major contributions from the business community.
In honor of the milestone anniversary and to support the organization’s programs and strategic efforts, WE CAN donors David and Gail Oppenheim, Sandy Wycoff and Jeff Lang have seeded the fund with $50,000 donations. "We just felt it was the right time for us to step up and show everyone that we are fully confident in WE CAN today, and in the future," David Oppenheim said.
We just felt it was the right time for us to step up and show everyone that we are fully confident in WE CAN today, and in the future.
WE CAN, an acronym for Women’s Empowerment through Cape Area Networking, relies on the support of volunteers and individual and business donors to provide free services, referrals and resources to foster independence and create lasting positive change in women's lives.
“The Oppenheims and Wycoff and Lang contributions are very generous,” said Executive Director Lisa Guyon. “They have been longtime supporters of WE CAN and for them to step up at this milestone is so important to us.”
WE CAN serves more than 2,000 Cape women a year, she added. “Over the last 20 years, we have had the honor of empowering thousands of women in our community to find pathways to stability and self sufficiency in their lives.”
More than 300 volunteers, including more than 40 attorneys, are engaged with the organization, offering time, expertise and support to participants through legal consultation and financial counseling, employment and career support and mentorship programs, Guyon said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, WE CAN saw consistent requests for assistance compared with previous years, even though a few programs had to be put on hold. The demand was still there, Guyon said. The organization saw increases in questions about housing, employment support, childcare and school issues.“It was a year of more complex needs for people,” she said. “But we didn’t close the office for a day.”
It was a year of more complex needs for people. But we didn’t close the office for a day.
The staff and volunteers utilized new technology to deliver services virtually to ensure that women and families received help and resources during a time of complex personal and social challenges. Among the lessons learned during the pandemic was how to use technology virtually to provide better access and services for women, Guyon said.
“WE CAN not only endured COVID-19, we thrived,” Teri Cavanagh, president of the organization's board of directors, said in a press release “As we celebrate this important milestone and move into our next decade of work, WE CAN is investing in technology and developing programs that will allow us to expand access to our services for women throughout the entire Cape Cod Region.”
The seed donations from the Oppenheims, owners of the Chatham Wayside Inn, and Wycoff , owner of the Chatham Clothing Bar, and Lane express the passion people have for the work performed by WE CAN and the importance of community investment, David Oppenheim said.
“As employers, we are always looking for great people,” he said. “But if one of our people is in trouble, we want to make sure they can reach out and get help. When a woman is in a strong place, she is more successful at her job. She interacts confidently with her coworkers and the public. She fuels her growth, enabling her to support her family and they are all afforded more options for their lifestyle.”
“I believe the reason WE CAN has endured for 20 years – will be here for 20 more years – is because they don’t just offer a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Wycoff. “WE CAN provides women with a tool box so they can find their own answers, and everyone’s answers are different.”
WE CAN provides women with a tool box so they can find their own answers, and everyone’s answers are different.
After a year of providing services remotely, in-person workshops and consultations are resuming with a focus on making sure everyone who needs help gets it, Guyon said.
“This 20th anniversary fund is vital to WE CAN realizing its strategic plans with the continued build out of our technology infrastructure, eliminating physical barriers so all women can receive the tools they need,” she said. “As such, 20 percent of all gifts will go to our established endowments.”
WE CAN also has a couple of fundraising events coming up in the near future. The annual Mid-Summer Soiree will take place at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club on July 29, and the Words, Wit and Wisdom event will be held at Wychmere Beach Club on Sept. 23.