Archive for Friday, May 7, 2004

Fund will assist women in need

Project seeks 1,000 ‘fairy godmothers’

May 7, 2004


Wanted: 1,000 fairy godmothers to donate $100 each.

About 100 women gathered at Brandon Woods apartments Thursday evening to talk about the Fairy Godmother Fund, a grassroots organization conceptualized last June. The fund asks local women to donate toward a $100,000 endowment that will give women in need a source for quick cash without jumping through too many hoops to get it.

More than 200 women have donated $31,035 since the group's first meeting in January. The group hopes to meet the goal by Dec. 31.

The Fairy Godmother Fund is different from One Hundred Good Women, another grassroots organization that aims to help women. The latter group's members put themselves to work for Habitat for Humanity and performing other tasks at women's safe centers. But when women ask for money, One Hundred Good Women usually doesn't have it.

"So you can provide the money and we provide the goods," said Jennie Washburn, a member of One Hundred Good Women.

The idea came about when several Lawrence philanthropists began talking about how difficult it is for a woman in need to get money quickly, said Barb Reavis, a Fairy Godmother founder and former director of the United Way of Douglas County.

"Funding streams are usually for certain populations or only apply for certain things or have a long application," she said. "If somebody needs something now, they don't want to go through a lot of hoops."

That need could be a prom dress, $30 for a birth certificate or money toward a car. The founders have so far avoided setting guidelines for how the funds can be used, Reavis said.

The group hasn't set limits for gifts, but proceeds from the endowment will be limited to about $5,000 a year, Reavis said. Still, she expects that applicants won't have to provide much more than a name and some kind of proof that they need the money.

Once the endowment is established, a steering committee will guide it. But the money itself will be under the governance of the Douglas County Community Foundation, which will in turn choose an agency to manage the distribution of proceeds.

Besides making donations, many donors have taken it upon themselves to distribute fliers and sponsor coffees and lunches to raise money, said Karen Cochran, another founding member.

"There is something about this that is magic for the women in Douglas County," she said.

Donations can be sent to Fairy Godmother Fund, c/o Douglas County Community Foundation, 900 Mass., Lawrence 66044.

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