March is such an important month for women around the world. This is a chance to recognize the accomplishments women have made globally and throughout history. It is also a reminder of the sacrifices women have made before us and that we continue to make today. As we look back at the amazing contributions made, we want to look back on how W2WM began and how we continue to support and advocate for women in the Frederick area.
W2WM was built on strong women looking to connect and support women in the community. The FCCFW (Frederick County Commission for Women) was comprised of 11 phenomenal women (Darby Jones, Debra Borden, Cynthia Terl, Francina Baldi, Connie Castanera, Melissa Curtis-Cherry, Anneliese D’Souza, Diane DeMarco, Elizabeth Pakenas, Bev Shelton, Cynthia Warfield). In 2004, they created a needs assessment that provided a collective understanding of the issues women face and recommendations on how to accommodate women in the workplace and provide resources. One resource that was produced from the needs assessment was the initiation of the FCCFW Women In Need Mentoring Program Pilot Project. This pilot program aimed to establish a mentoring program that provides guidance, support, and advice to help these women achieve educational opportunities and satisfying careers and family lives.
Three FCCFW women sat around the kitchen table and created an advisory board, as well as fine-tuned the program. In 2007 Woman to Woman Mentoring was born and opened its doors in the Adults Service Center at Frederick Community College. With a matching donation from the Ausherman Family Foundation, W2WM was established and ready to serve more women in the community.
Karen Justice, our current board member, became the first paid employee at W2WM as a program coordinator. A list was provided for women interested in becoming a mentor and the program consisted of ten mentees and mentors. Our first cohort was in 2009 and 10 women successfully completed the program.
Megan Ensminger, a mentee from the pilot program year stated, “I started as a reluctant mentee 10 years ago. I thought I had my life together pretty well on my own, but like many young people, I had no idea. I learned a lot about confidence and risk taking. Through my mentor’s coaching, I landed my first real job as a marketing professional. I can never thank her enough for that. Without her, I may never have gotten where I am today.”
The pilot program was an enormous success and throughout the years, we have adapted our organization to fit the needs of the women in this area. We have developed a great mentor pool to ensure we are meeting our mentees’ diverse needs and have even had many of our mentees come back to serve as mentors. Our first mentee that became a mentor was Alex Uphold.
While continuing to provide resources for women, W2WM decided to host its first-ever Clutch the Future event. This event aimed to raise funds for FCC (Frederick Community College) students and raise awareness about W2WM. This event was managed and run by two FCC foundation members and FCC alum, Meg Klackner and Sue Mathurin. We held our first Clutch the Future event in 2010 and raised over $26,000 in scholarships for mentees entering our program.
Since then, W2WM has continued to create space for mentees to connect with like-minded women to assist them on their paths. Our innovative, effective programs, which serve women ages 18-60, combine the power of one-on-one mentoring, community-building workshops, and opportunities to connect to help women identify and work toward their goals in education, career, and life.
For nearly 15 years, W2WM mentees have used the power of mentorship to succeed in transition; start, restart, and complete school; explore, start, grow, and advance in their careers; and build connections. We are proud to be part of over 500 women’s stories. If you are looking for support, guidance, and a community to call home, click on our programs to find out how you can get started on your journey and how we can help you grow!