From Caring Matters, August 2013
Committed, charismatic, and kind, Lynne Stout is everything one would want in a leader. And in many ways, it is though she has been preparing to be Chair of the Women of Philanthropy Giving Circle all her life - she just didn't know it until now.
"I bring a strong social services perspective to our group. My life's work has been assessing needs of others, especially disadvantaged women, linking them to community-based services and organizations."
Lynne earned a bachelor's degree in gerontology from California University of Pennsylvania. In the 1980s, she worked as a legislative aid in the Pennsylvania Senate, helping to address constituents' needs. She then spent the next 15 years as a Social Services Coordinator for Presbyterian SeniorCare in Washington. During that part of her career, Lynne saw first-hand the many struggles of the elderly, including those of widows below the poverty level who were not receiving vital entitlement benefits.
The idea of a "collaborative effort by women helping women" is part of what drew Lynne to the WOPGC.
"Our meeting this past spring was joyful. Each participant took a few minutes to share her professional and personal insights as well as the invaluable life experiences that brought her to our Giving Circle. We are a diverse group of women . . . each member has a respected and unique perspective. This affords us the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and combine our strengths."
While the WOPGC enables women with similar charitable interests to come together to build new relationships, when it comes to grant-making, the group is all business. The educational component of the Giving Circle gives members an opportunity to learn about different organizations and programs in our community who are serving this fragile segment of the population.
This year's grant-making cycle yielded diverse applications that helped the group develop a greater understanding of the broad spectrum of needs across the county. Many worthy charities applied for support, and choosing the recipients of the grants was very challenging. Seven different agencies received a total of $17,500 in grants from the Mother's Fund and the Women of Philanthropy's pooled resources. The number and amount of the grants will continue to increase as the membership continues to increase.
Lynne has been personally committed to reaching out to potential candidates for the Giving Circle. Many of the ladies she approached were not aware of the WOPGC, and they were very intrigued by the way the group engages in local philanthropy. "Even something as simple as forwarding an issue of Caring Matters [the Giving Circle's eNewsletter] to a few friends is a great way to spread the word about what we do."
Recognizing how valuable it is for women from all walks of life to interact with one another, Lynne also has a specific vision for the future of the WOPGC.
"As Chair, I would like to see our Giving Circle continue to grow, with a particular focus on inter-generational membership that would encourage and instill philanthropic values in our younger generations."
Additionally, Lynne was excited to share her thoughts about the group from a "big picture" perspective:
"When thinking about our Women of Philanthropy Giving Circle, I remember a favorite Irish proverb: 'There is no strength without unity.' Unity is a powerful thing. I believe our united Women of Philanthropy Giving Circle is, and will continue to be, a force for good in Washington County."