Working together, women can do so much more

Story and Photos By Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald

The 135-member strong Women’s Giving Circle of the Catholic Community Foundation kicked off its 2019 efforts with a luncheon March 20 at New Orleans Country Club.

Karen Eagan, co-chair with Diana Stieffel of the Catholic Community Foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle, welcomed 24 new members to the circle at the luncheon.

The 79 members who have been in the circle for three years were also recognized as part of the newly established St. Joan of Arc Society, named after the group’s patron saint.

“We thank you for joining us to magnify the power of our giving, to give effectively, and to transform lives,” Eagan said.

After lunch, members voted on organizations “aligned with the spirit of our Catholic giving circle values and teachings” that they would collectively support through grants this year. They also introduced new charter guidelines that created an executive, steering and a formal grants committee to oversee the grant-application process.

This year, the circle has accepted applications from 22 organizations that work in the area of “family health.” Executive committee members Darlene Robert and Stacy Pellerin thought “it was important to recognize the health of our community begins at home with the health of our families.”

Once this year’s giving is completed, the Women’s Giving Circle will have surpassed $500,000 in grants to approximately 30 organizations. Award sizes vary depending on a group’s size and need.

Meg Kaul and Katie Butera said seeing the impact of helping so many organizations is what impels them to be members.

“I like the fact that people are pooling their resources to make a big impact,” said Meg Kaul.

Doing it together
“Philanthropy on its own does not have the impact it does as done in a community, because we do it together,” Cory Howat, executive director of the renamed Catholic Community Foundation.

He said the Women’s Giving Circle has been “a model for other dioceses around the country who wish to begin their own circles.”

Keynote speaker, Kelly Alys Robinson, the global ambassador for The Leadership Roundtable and part of the family that founded the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, acknowledged how the women gathered were doing their part to live their faith.

Having worked with cardinals and bishops on the role of women in the church, she said she is hopeful more diversity at the decision-making table of the church would come in time.

She spoke on generosity and said she was forever impacted by Mother Teresa’s words to “never take away the right for another person to be generous.”

She said generosity was humankind’s birthright; everyone has something to give – not just money, but also time, attention, encouragement and mercy and adopting a disposition of “other.” She said stewardship is not just the proper care of all that is entrusted to someone.

“As Christians, we are called to go deeper and recognize and act on the potential at hand,” Robinson said.

Generosity also changes the life of the giver, something Robinson felt assured everyone in the room had an experience with.

Robinson said God’s voice is one of encouragement and joy. She left circle members with a few maxims she’s found helpful in her life: be wary of cynicism; celebrate joyfully what is right; and surround yourself with similar-minded people.

She also encouraged the women to be examples for other young women and to always be mindful of those less fortunate in the church. She said the church needs solace, healing, hope, mercy, generosity and the love of Christ.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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