FOCUS Women's Resource Center

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The FOCUS Women's Resource Center was founded in 1972 as a group to provide information to help women reach their full potential. FOCUS closed in 2012.[1]


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Background

FOCUS had an almost forty year history of working with disenfranchised, disempowered women and their families, transforming their lives through innovative programming, counseling, and support. Our Teensight program has been a community mainstay for over twenty years, working with pregnant and parenting teens to help them complete high school as well as working with middle school girls to teach behaviors to prevent unwanted pregnancies. We believe that combining our experience with career and life skills counseling and support with our work with middle school girls will create a powerful program which will break the cycle of poverty and low self esteem for the Charlottesville families served.

FOCUS’ History

A small group of women, dedicated to empowering women to recognize their value and realize their potential, opened FOCUS in a donated church room in 1972. They chose the name to convey its new mission: Many women, many voices, one FOCUS—affirming the worth, talents, and abilities of women. Their goal was to help plant the seeds for girls and women to grow and succeed in their lives. The founders imagined a place where women received affordable and life-affirming counseling, developed marketable skills, discovered an appropriate and fulfilling career path, and built self-esteem.

Community response showed that a need was being met. FOCUS became a non-profit in 1973. The first Executive Director was hired in 1978. With no financial backing except for modest individual donations, this small group of people modeled what women can do. While the core programming has evolved over the years to meet changing community needs, a FOCUS remains dedicated to its mission and provides a community for all women.

Mission and Vision

The mission of FOCUS is to be a community for all women seeking help or growth. Our programs promote awareness through information, education, and direct provision of services. The vision of FOCUS is a community in which every woman achieves her full potential. Our values include fostering community, diversity, freedom, equality, empowerment, self-reliance, and encouraging growth.

Programs

Programs are flexible and evolve to respond to the needs of women and their families in our community. We have nurtured other non-profit agencies to independence, such as the Community Mediation Center, the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) and the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA). Currently we have several programs which we offer to the community:

TEENSIGHT

Teensight works with parenting, pregnant and/or at-risk teens by helping them to complete high school and become responsible parents and community members.

In-School Pregnant and Parenting Teen Program

The In-School Pregnant and Parenting Teen Program (ISPPTP) is a life skills program offered local high schools to pregnant and parenting teens to help ensure their high school graduation. This program provides young mothers with parenting and life skills information, group discussions, individual counseling, educational reinforcement/support to complete high school, and assistance with childcare expenses. Last year 40 girls of all ages and grades were served in four area high schools, with 6 completing graduation on time. Out of those 6, 4 went on to college (PVCC, Old Dominion).

GEMS

Girls Empowered to Make Success (GEMS) is designed to promote positive life choices for middle school girls, ages 10 to 15, who are either the sister or a close family member of pregnant or parenting adolescent girls. Health promotion, avoidance of non-marital sexual activity, connection to the community, development of leadership skills, and identification of future goals are encouraged through mentoring, group meetings, volunteer projects, field trips, and service learning. Our goal for each girl is the self-awareness that she a true jewel and treasure and nobody can take that away from her. This program targets, but is not limited to middle school girls to reduce high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, early initiation of sexual activity, gang involvement, and a possible pattern of self-destruction as she tries to figure out her place in this world as a middle school student and then onto the world of high school.

Microloans

Microloans are available to women to start up or expand existing businesses. Loan amounts are up to $1,500 at a fixed rate of 4% for 2 years, and include case management services to help women succeed in business. We have made loans to 7 women over the past two years.

Lawyers Assistance Night

A twenty minute consultation is available with a volunteer attorney on most legal topics, such as divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, or landlord/tenant issues. This free service is held the first Tuesday of every month on a sign-up basis. This event typically sees 80 people per year.

Financial Assistance Night

A twenty to thirty minute consultation with a local bank representative is available on topics such as budgeting, balancing a checkbook, or other financial issues. This free service is held the second Thursday of every month on a sign-up basis. This event typically helps 20 people per year.

FOCUS Flea!

Located at 617 West Main in the Old Albemarle Hotel and open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Flea is a source of low cost quality boutique-style women’s clothing. Clothing is also available at an even greater reduced cost, or free, to women referred by more than 45 area agencies. In addition to being FOCUS’ biggest fundraiser, the Flea helps at least 50 women and their families each year, as well as providing career clothing to the image rooms at the local job fairs.

Volunteer and Community Partnerships

FOCUS has a strong volunteer program. We work closely with area businesses and agencies to maximize services to our clients. State Farm Insurance, MichieHamlett, Union First Market Bank, MetLife, Robbins Staffing, and J.Jill are just a few of our current volunteer partnerships. [2]

Board of Directors

  • Hobby Parent, President
  • Jessica Newville, Vice-President
  • Deborah Winslow, Secretary
  • Rhonda Rogers, Treasurer
  • Laurine Bennett-Moore
  • Diane Collier

References

  1. Web. Out of Focus: Longtime women's support org folds, Lisa Provence, The Hook, Better Publications LLC, Nov 26, 2012 Print. Nov 29, 2012 , #1148, .
  2. Web. About the Women's Resource Center, retrieved April 4, 2011.

External Links

Official site