5 questions for...Marcy Halley, co-founder of Women in Need
FAIRFIELD — It was 10 years ago that Women in Need, a very local, very grassroots charitable organization, came into being.
Through a very simple “bar in a jar” evening at the Horseshoe Cafe, the group has raised over $60,000 to help more than 30 Fairfield women who, for many different reasons, found themselves struggling to make ends meet. Neighbors nominate neighbors, and when a need is brought to their attention, the call goes out and the donors show up at the bar to drop whatever money they can afford to give into the jar.
Women nominated as recipients must be Fairfield residents, and the identity of the recipient is not revealed to the donors. Anyone wishing to nominate a possible recipient can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public is invited to the Horseshoe Cafe on Oct. 12, when WiN marks its 10th year. The jar will be on the bar starting around 7 p.m.
Marcy Halley, one of the two founders of Women in Need with her friend Annie Clyne, recently answered some questions about the organization.
Q: What prompted you to start Women in Need 10 years ago?
A: We noticed there were women in our community of friends, neighbors and co-workers, who were in need of financial assistance due to circumstances beyond their control — the illness of a family member, loss of job, death of a spouse, divorce — to name a few.
Beyond the neighborhood meal train (home-cooked dishes) generously provided by caring friends, we saw a financial need and thought we could find a way to make a contribution to the household without sacrificing the privacy of the individual.
So we started with a “jar in the bar” at the Horseshoe Tavern in Southport. We had a nominee, and we sent out an email to friends. We raised over $1,000 that first night and every dollar raised went to the woman nominated in the form of a check from Women in Need saying, “WiN is a group of women who are your friends and neighbors. We understand you are going through a difficult time. Please accept this donation on behalf of your Fairfield friends and know that there are women around who care and support you.”
Q: How do you find about someone who is in need of financial help?
A: We receive email nominations from women in the community who are aware of someone who is struggling. These emails come from neighbors, school counselors, churches, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. The nominator provides us with information about the person’s situation and why they think she would benefit from our donation. If that person is chosen, we tell the person who nominated her. She is the only one who knows.
We then send out an email to our list and gather constituents together.
Q: How, and who, decides if someone meets the criteria?
A: There are two of us who decide based on the needs of those who are nominated and we always seem to agree — it seems clear that all the stars are aligning for this particular person at this particular time. The only criteria we have is that she needs to reside in Fairfield.
We always hold on to the information of the other women nominated and try to assist as many as possible. If we have a big showing and we are able to help more than one nominatee, we do.
We do vet our nominees to make sure the situation is legitimate, but we have never had a problem.
Q: Have some years been worse than others, in regard to the number of people who need assistance?
A: Fairfield is a big town, 60,000 people. There is always a need. We never run out of people to help.
Q: How many people are on your mailing list now for WiN, who get the call when funds need to be raised?
A: We have over 400 people on our email list, plus we use Facebook and other social media to help spread the word when we are holding an event. We never know who will show up, and that is the beauty of this concept — no fancy fundraisers or galas, no wine and cheese parties or planning meetings.
Everyone is welcome at the Horseshoe. Some stay for a few minutes and some stay all evening.