WE CAN is the perfect name for a small nonprofit dedicated to empowering women in Cape Cod. As a firm believer in its mission, we have been partnering with WE CAN over the past few years to design cards from which a portion of the sales is donated to their organization. The partnership is small way for us to give back to the community that helped and supported Kate and Deb in the early days of Smudge Ink. I recently had the chance to speak with Andi Genser, the current director of WE CAN and learn more about what they do and how they’ve made a difference.
How did WE CAN begin? What was the vision behind its creation?
WE CAN stands for Women's Empowerment through Cape Area Networking. The organization was formed in 2001 to build on the work that was initially started by the Women in Transition program at Cape Cod Community College. Our programs and services assist women on the Cape dealing with difficult transitions in their lives. These types of transitions can include a divorce, job loss, illness, bankruptcy, or any personal or isolating setbacks. WE CAN’s offerings have greatly expanded since its modest beginnings but remain focused on bringing increased opportunity, self-sufficiency, and stability to these women and their families so that they can achieve lasting positive change.
Can you talk about some of WE CAN’s program offerings?
WE CAN services usually begin with a phone conversation or a scheduled face-to-face meeting with one of WE CAN’s program staff. This helps a woman to sort out her needs, understand her options, prioritize next steps, and begin to stabilize her situation. The help we provide comes in the form of information and referrals to other resources on the Cape in addition to mentoring, free legal services, training and workshops. All of our programs are tailored to the unmet needs of the women who reach out to us and cover a wide range of issues. Some of our current offerings include:
- our signature PathMakers program in which women are paired with a mentor over the course of 11 months with a focus on setting and achieving life goals;
- a half-day Divorce Boot Camp facilitated by a family law attorney, providing specialized guidance about legal rights, preparation and steps to take for those considering or approaching divorce;
- one-on-one Financial Empowerment sessions with a professional financial volunteer to address anything from creating a budget to taking steps to solve a difficult financial situation
What do you see as WE CAN’s biggest accomplishment?
We are serving more women than ever before—over 2,000 women and their families last year alone. The women who leave these programs tell us that they feel empowered to overcome the problems they face, move through challenging transitions and create the changes that they want, for themselves and their families. None of these changes are trivial to the woman involved; however some transformations are enormous and enormously successful.
Last summer Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Keating stopped at WE CAN for a visit with our local Senator and State Rep—we were only one of two stops made on the Cape—it was an incredibly special day to see their support for our work.
How can others get involved?
Volunteer; become a business partner; share info with others; attend one of our events and of course, support our work! We are deeply grateful to Smudge Ink and so many others in our community who have stepped up to partner with us to raise funds and awareness for our work. It is so meaningful that the community cares and shows that in very concrete and dramatic ways.These relationships mean so much to all of us at WE CAN!