Local Organization Builds Empowering Relationships
Writer / Julie Yates
Women of Westfield (WOW) is an organization that seeks to empower its members by facilitating the development of strong relationships in addition to providing occasions to serve the community. Led by President Danielle Carey Tolan, trustee of Washington Westfield Township, the group began in mid-2019 and has grown to more than 2,000 strong. Through the varied activities it offers, women come together and have fun while building a supportive network that gives back.
“It’s a group of women that live or work in Westfield,” Tolan says. “They take off whatever hats as moms or working professionals they are wearing, and just come to build empowering relations among women. WOW makes an impact in the community by breaking down barriers, investing in other women and creating service opportunities.”
“Before the organization began, I thought about it for over two years,” she continues. “I wasn’t sure how to structure it so it could impact the community. A group of Chamber of Commerce women showed interest, so I came and spoke to them to share my vision. Together, 11 of us agreed on a direction and we founded WOW. We became our own entity and are not under the Chamber, although we do use some of their services.”
Women can become a part of WOW in two different ways. WOW leaders maintain a private Facebook group, and a woman may request to become a member by clicking on the “Join Group” button. After answering questions to affirm she either works or lives in Westfield, her request is approved, and upcoming events and other information can be viewed. An individual can also become part of the database by signing up for the newsletter via the website.
“After every event there is an explosion of new members,” Tolan says. “It’s so much fun to be around other women. Every month there is at least one event. Some are free, and others have an admission fee and need a reservation. Recently we hosted ‘Sip ’n Chip,’ an event that included a golf lesson. On October 13 we are having a private ‘Ghost Walk’ through downtown Westfield. Events often have a service component such as a cleanup day, or people might bring in a gas station gift card to donate to a nonprofit and get to learn what the organization does.”
Each year WOW leaders host one large event called BE Gathering. For 2021, it will be held on Wednesday, November 10 at the IMMI Conference Center. It will feature a luncheon, a keynote speaker, 30 to 40 vendors from women-owned businesses, plus a few local nonprofits will set up display tables. A raffle will be held with funds going to a service organization.
WOW members maintain a board of directors, comprised of an executive board of officers as well as an advisory council. Many of the officers also chair committees that ensure the group’s vision remains in place. Committees include Relationship, Service, Program, and Marketing and Communication.
“We have more ideas for events than we have time for,” Tolan says. “The biggest thing is that all women are accepted with open arms. There is camaraderie, and the beauty of the group is the relationships that are built. WOW wants to empower women to give back to the community in a powerful way.”
Visit womenofwestfield.com for more information.