WIGS holds 2015 annual luncheon and votes to donate $31,500 to four critical programs at People Helping People
Women’s Independent Giving Society Conducts Annual Meeting
The Santa Ynez Valley Women’s Independent Giving Society (WIGS) held its fifth annual meeting at the Happy Canyon home of Phyllis and Michael Hennigan on April 10. Thirty invited guests and members were treated to a delicious luncheon and presentation by staff from Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People.
The purpose of the annual meeting is for WIGS members to receive progress reports on their previous year’s funded programs as well as updates on current program need, which includes client success stories.
At the conclusion of the presentation and progress reports, members decide how they would like to invest their current year donations and cast their votes accordingly. Recipient programs are funded on a pro-rata basis based upon the members voted choices. Donations totaled $31,500 in 2014.
Inspired by similar organizations in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, WIGS was founded six years ago by Nancy Englander, Mila Hart, Claire Hanssen, Annette Serrurier, Sandra Simon, Carolyn Balaban, Nancy Eklund Hunsicker, Sandra Focht, Barbara Crist and Phyllis Hennigan. They and other donors wanted to create a women’s giving circle, based in and focused on Santa Ynez and Los Alamos Valleys. They had a strong desire to invest their contributions to maximize their impact on improving lives in the Santa Ynez Valley.
People Helping People was selected as the umbrella organization for WIGS for two reasons. First, PHP manages four diverse program focus areas encompassing 18 separate social services, allowing the WIGS members choices for funding from a broad diversity of programs.
Additionally, PHP administers WIGS operations without overhead, thus allowing 100 percent of WIGS member donations to directly fund services. All food and beverages for the annual WIGS meeting are donated and prepared by the membership.
This year, WIGS members voted to fund the following: Early Childhood Mental Health Counseling, Los Alamos Youth Program, Santa Ynez High School Student Mentoring, Services to Seniors, and Domestic Violence Prevention. Over the past six years, WIGS has cumulatively donated more than $210,000 to a variety of PHP programs.
This year’s private luncheon for members was prepared by Mila Hart and Heidi Rabel with cookies baked by Gerry Shepherd, and wines donated by local vintners. New members enjoying the presentations and luncheon for the first time this year included Melinda Johnston, Sandra Mastromanaco, Patricia Haskell Hately, Carol Johnson and Lee Ann Kees.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the detail, depth and quality of the program presentations and I was touched by the personal stories shared by local residents who have been helped by PHP,” said Johnson. “In an area as affluent as Santa Ynez Valley, it’s important to be aware that there are many residents who are struggling, particularly seniors on restricted incomes.”
Other members enjoying lunch in the garden included Linda Lee Baumgarten, Joan Bradshaw, Susan Cobb, Priscilla Higgins, Leigh Layman, Constance Lund with her daughter Cherise Lund-Osha, Alice Olla, Pat Roberts, Jan Rome, Melina Webster Pile, Rachel Pace, Becky Barieau and Julie Kirby.
To become a regular member of WIGS, a minimum contribution of $500 is required. This contribution may be split between two parties who will share a single vote. Sustaining members contribute $1,000, have one vote, and are invited to join the group’s annual steering committee.