This year, we are proud to feature five (S)heroes Among Us who have led critical efforts on behalf of organizations that we have funded this year through our Emergency Response Network, who are focusing on widespread community needs affecting women, their families, and the broader community:
Jen Broderick - Bridges to Housing Stability
Erika Strauss Chavarria - Columbia Community Care
Bita Dayhoff - Community Action Council
Dr. Mariana Izraelson - Grassroots Crisis Intervention
Vanita Leatherwood - HopeWorks of Howard County
Recognized among these (S)heroes is Erika Strauss Chavarria, the founder of Columbia Community Care (CCC). She saw a need for many families; without schools, libraries, and after school programs, many children were left with a “grab and go” meal while parents struggled to balance a loss of income and a need for childcare.
Erika said, “I created CCC because I saw that many of my students and their families who were already facing hardships were concerned about how they were going to make ends meet, provide food for their families, and survive through the pandemic.”
Erika founded CCC in March of 2020 in response to these problems. Volunteers from the Howard County come together (socially distanced) to provide local families with supplies they need such as food, household care items, personal care items, and holiday toys. Erika has created a safe, healthy environment for members of the community to seek help, including making everything accessible.
“We have made it an intentional part of our mission to eliminate any and all obstacles to access. For example, we never ask for any identification or proof of need. We also provide home deliveries for folks who do not have transportation and we make sure our sites are walkable accessible. We also provide translation services for our clients and all our information is in English and Spanish,” said Erika.
Erika encourages people to get involved with organizations like hers that are already doing the work on the ground, from social media campaigns to donation collections. And CCC is still growing. Chavarria stated, “We are actually on a mission to create a community center that will continue upon and expand the services of CCC.”
According to Erika, “There are so many ways that folks can help eliminate hunger in their communities! The best way and most effective way to help is by doing something unique and by doing something you enjoy.”
Please join us in thanking Erika and all WGC’s (S)heroes for their efforts. And, we hope you will join us in highlighting every day (S)heroes Among Us, by uploading a photo of YOUR Howard County (S)heroes on our WGC (S)heroes Among Us Virtual Mosaic Wall. With your help, we are highlighting women across the county before, during and after our upcoming Virtual Annual Celebration - "Celebrating (S)heroes Among Us" on Monday, March 8, 2021 - International Women's Day, with host, WGC Advisory Board Member Candace Dodson-Reed, and Keynote Speakers:
Valaida Fullwood: Author, “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists", Creator, The Soul of Philanthropy, and Co-Architect, Black Philanthropy Month
Sara Lomelin: Executive Director, Philanthropy Together, and Founder of the Latino Giving Circle Network™, the Largest Network of its Kind in the Country
Who will discuss “Democratizing and Diversifying Philanthropy Through the Power of Collective Giving”