Maris and Claire

The power of women helping one another

Supporting each other, standing up for each other, and leaning on each other.

By Claire Zangerle, Chief Nurse Executive at Allegheny Health Network, WLC member, and co-chair for the ‘Growing the Future Success of United for Women’ Committee

& Maris Bondi, Senior Director of Marketing Administration and Community Outreach at UPMC Health Plan, WLC member, and co-chair for the ‘Growing the Future Success of United for Women’ Committee

Women can do anything. On our own, we’re a force to be reckoned with. But together? Together we can share our voice and help each other thrive.

When women support one another and provide each other with guidance and mentorship, our community changes. In United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, we strive to support all women in our community: those who are on the Council; those who might be considering joining; those who are working hard in their careers, as city leaders, as mothers, as philanthropists; and those who may have fallen on a hard time in their life and need a little help to get back on track.

Through the WLC’s signature initiative, United for Women, we have seen first-hand what women can achieve when we rally around each other. Since 2012, United Way’s United for Women initiative has helped 6,000 local women facing an unexpected crisis. In the past year alone, nearly 2,300 women avoided a financial emergency, remained in stable housing, received career assistance and more.

When we focus on building each other up, we can do remarkable things in our community, in our jobs, in our families and in every other part of our lives.

There are many ways you can commit to helping the women around you. Through our work as Co-Chairs of the United for Women initiative, we urge you to act now for the women you know, and even those you don’t.

  1. If you have the opportunity to be a mentor to another woman, do it. By being honest, fair and supportive, you can encourage young women to take risks, learn, ask questions, and voice their opinions.

Just by being a guide and role model to a younger woman in your life, maybe at work, through your philanthropic efforts, or elsewhere, you can encourage open-mindedness and the importance of speaking up for the things women believe in.

  1. Be part of a network of women. When you engage with women in your community and open yourself up to opportunities to meet with women outside of your day-to-day circles, you will grow as an individual and as a leader. When we come together as a group, we can accomplish so many powerful things for ourselves, other women, and our community in general.

For us, that network has been United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, the third largest WLC in the country. By being part of this group, we not only met each other, but we have worked alongside so many other influential women. Working together has allowed us to support women in our community who may be struggling to get back on their feet through United for Women.

  1. If you can, support causes that help women financially. We might not all be in a position to give financially, but if you are, even the smallest donation can make a world of difference. On March 8, International Women’s Day, United Way of Southwestern PA is launching its first-ever ‘She Inspires Me’ campaign, where donations will support its United for Women initiative.

You can give to the campaign in honor of a woman who inspires you, and United Way will send an e-card to your friend, loved one, colleague, or sister, on your behalf. A small donation can help make a big difference. For every $100 we raise through United for Women, a woman can avoid getting her power turned off, find temporary housing, pay an unexpected repair on her car or purchase a monthly bus pass to get her to and from work, and so much more.

These three suggestions are just the beginning. By being present and supportive with the women in your lives, we can accomplish so much good. Tell a woman today how much you appreciate her – we guarantee it will change her day.