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Cambridge Women's Center

a supportive community space for all women

aka Cambridge Women's Center   |   Cambridge, MA   |  www.cambridgewomenscenter.org

Mission

The Cambridge Women's Center provides a supportive community space for all women by offering opportunities for empowerment, learning, healing, trauma support, and understanding.

Ruling year info

1971

Board Chair

Judy Norris

Director of Programs and Services

Stephanie Haynes

Main address

Cambridge Women's Center 25 Mt Auburn St, unit 100

Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

23-7131753

NTEE code info

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

Hot Line, Crisis Intervention (F40)

Victims' Services (P62)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Mission of the Cambridge Women's Center is to provide a supportive community space for all women by offering opportunities for empowerment, learning, healing, trauma support, and understanding. We create a low-threshold space that is accessible on a drop-in basis, lowering barriers and meeting women where they are at. A space to get ones needs met, from a computer lab to a free LGBTQ+ support group. We serve a population that is exceptionally diverse in terms of need, experience, race, ethnicity, age, and physical and mental well-being. Many of the women who come to our Center are experiencing homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, domestic violence, childhood abuse recovery and more. The Women's Center provides a safe space for women, with three distinct tiers of free programming. A Drop-In Center, for respite and access to our space; a Helpline, for emotional support and referrals; and Groups, on the arts, yoga, 65+ aging support, trauma support and much more.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Healing Empowerment through Arts Learning (HEAL)

Every month we have integrated creative arts programming for free geared toward serving our community. Women experiencing homelessness and/or poverty often have no place to engage in artistic pursuits. HEAL participants gain artistic skills, learn to express themselves creatively, and participate in a process that offers stress relief, healing and recovery. In a safe and supportive, they learn from volunteer artists, arts educators and arts therapists.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

Our largest program.
o Unrestricted access to a kitchen fully stocked with food from three weekly food deliveries.
o Access to two computer labs, a library, art room, and comfortable spaces to connect or spend time alone.
o Safe space for women to rest, relax and rejuvenate.
o Individualized support from volunteers to help with referrals, emotional support, and material assistance.
o A welcoming community of women learning from one another and building connections.

This program is especially helpful for women experiencing homelessness and in need of a safe space during the day, or women who are isolated, retired, and in need of support in other ways!

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Economically disadvantaged people

The Women's Center has two Computer Labs that are accessible on a drop-in basis. We offer specialized computer training and one-to-one assistance with job searching and resume writing. Individualized instruction can be requested and we also provide self-paced tutorials. Women regularly use our labs to conduct housing searches, complete job applications, do school work, research and more. Users have free access to the Internet and printing.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Cambridge Women's Center supports, educates and empowers women. Our goal is to provide free access and services, a safe space and support. We aim to meet women where they are at, wherever that is in their journey. Women are not identified by their largest trauma coming in the door. Women are just people in need of support. The majority of the women we support are marginalized and low-income. Many women are experiencing the effects of homelessness, racism, surviving abuse and sexual violence, severe mental illness, physical disabilities, gender and sexual orientation discrimination and other forms of oppression.
By providing all of our programs and services confidentially, and free of charge, without invasive intake procedures, we are reducing barriers that deter vulnerable women from seeking help. We aim to a be a place women can sign in with whatever name they choose and feel safe and comforted.
We aim to fill in the gaps in social services. We are open Monday-Friday 10am-8pm, and Saturdays 10am-3pm, and most day centers close by 3pm. Many places have intake procedures that require invasive questioning. We aim to

The Center provides an integrated program of social support services, including material assistance (donated food and clothing, free computer access, and a safe daytime refuge), informational support (advice on health, housing, employment, legal and other services), and emotional support (a space for women to share their stories and express their needs). These three types of social support have all been shown to improve women's physical and mental health. The women who visit our Center are able to access integrated services under one roof, which makes it easier for them to find what they need and gives them a better chance to heal. For many of our members, access to a safe and warm space, a hot meal, a variety of opportunities to learn new skills, and a supportive community are profoundly valuable and life-changing opportunities.

In addition to providing free support services to hundreds of women every year, through our diverse programming in drop-in, helpline and groups – we also are run through community and believe strongly in the power of volunteer support. 100% of our direct services are delivered by volunteers, with supervision from one paid staff member who oversees over 60+ weekly volunteers staffing the Center. We aim to promote understanding and compassion amongst our volunteers who learn from the women in the community with different experiences from them. Many of our volunteers go on to work in social services, and 100% of those surveyed said they use the skills they learned at the Center in their careers and outside world. We hope to also shape the minds of young change agents.

The Women's Center meets its goals through the following programs and services:

Drop-in Program for Respite and Resources:
o Unrestricted access to a kitchen fully stocked with food from three weekly food deliveries.
o Access to two computer labs, a library, art room, and comfortable spaces to connect or spend time alone.
o Safe space for women to rest, relax and rejuvenate.
o Individualized support from volunteers to help with referrals, emotional support, and material assistance.
o A welcoming community of women learning from one another and building connections.

• Helpline for Referrals and Support:
o 55-hours a week, women can call and receive confidential support from trained volunteers on any emotional issues and crises they might be struggling with and get appropriate referrals if needed.
o An Up-to-date resource database with over 250 organizations in the area allows helpline volunteers to provide callers with specific resources for housing searches, shelters, legal support, food resources, etc.

• Free Volunteer-Led Groups and Workshops:
25-35 free groups and workshops run every month, with at least one group a day. We hold a variety of educational, wellness-related, and creative programming. Choices change from a Trauma Support Group, Money Management, 65+ Aging Discussion, Sewing, Yoga, Stress Reduction, Art as Healing, and many more

Woven into our programmatic model is our Moving On program, which is a
unique set of programs and services geared toward survivors of violence and other traumas. This program provides healing resources and also helps survivors become advocates who educate the public about issues affecting women and children in order to promote social change.

Our Healing Empowerment through Arts Learning (HEAL), is an art therapy program that provides participants with relief and restoration from trauma while encouraging them to develop creative skills. This program is interwoven throughout our groups and workshops, and daily life.

Our lending library is available online, and cataloged and has books on women's health, domestic violence, sexual abuse, self-help and recovery, as well as poetry, biographies, fiction and other non-fiction written by women.
Our regularly scheduled community luncheons and breakfasts, as well as special community meals for holidays, provide us with the ability to promote community and build rapport.
The Women's Center provides all programs and services free of charge, so that any woman can receive help regardless of economic circumstances. We value multiculturalism and provide all services with sensitivity to cultural differences. We also value our collaborations with local agencies and allied organizations, which allow us to increase the quantity and quality of services that are available to women in need.

The Cambridge Women's Center relies on peer support and mutual aid to achieve its goals. Volunteers are an essential part of our organization. In 2017, 211 volunteers, interns and pro bono professionals contributed their time and labor to the Center! Volunteers lead groups and workshops, assist Drop-In visitors and Helpline callers, help maintain our Computer Labs, provide childcare, maintain our building, and assist in many other capacities. Many of our volunteers are multi-lingual, which helps in assisting immigrants with limited English skills. Some of our volunteers are former participants in our programs who are now able to help others in similar circumstances.

The Women's Center also maintains community partnerships that strengthen our programs and services. In 2017, the Center collaborated with more than 70 allied organizations to supplement our programming and enhance our expertise. For example, the Samaritans did a training for our Drop-In and Helpline volunteers on best practices for talking with suicidal callers and others needing emotional support. Food rescue organizations, such as Lovin Spoonfuls and Food for Free, donate meals, salads, sandwiches and other nutritious food for our visitors. Nine businesses hosted fundraisers for us or recruited volunteer teams to work at the Center last year. We also collaborate with other community service organizations by referring our visitors to them. We maintain a Women's Resource Database that helps us connect women in need with organizations that can help them.

The Women's Center is unique in the Boston area in providing a wide range of free services to meet the complex needs of abused and disadvantaged women. Unlike domestic violence shelters, which only offer services to women when they are in immediate physical danger and for a limited period of time, the Women's Center provides support and resources for as long as needed. Unlike homeless shelters, the Women's Center is open during daytime and evening hours and provides a wide variety of support services and learning opportunities that encourage self-direction and empowerment.

For survivors of child sexual abuse, the Center is the only organization in Greater Boston that provides comprehensive, desperately needed support within a caring, understanding community. For women without stable home environments, the Center is a rare, valuable, safe space where they can feel comfortable conducting everyday activities, and enjoy much more autonomy and self-direction than they normally have.

The Center is also unique in providing services to women of all backgrounds and helping to build bridges among them. In many of our groups and other activities, women from widely divergent backgrounds talk, learn and grow together, benefiting from getting to know different perspectives and life experiences. Our innovative organizational model addresses social and economic inequalities by fostering a spirit of mutual aid, respect and support.

In 2018, the Cambridge Women's Center received 6,860 visits, including 3,800 visits to our drop-in center, and 3,060 visits to attend scheduled activities. 2019 has been a great year, we have seen an increase in participation, and are actively working toward addressing the increase as our shoestring budget and short-staffed nature make it difficult to grow and expand. We believe the increase in community members and number of visits is related to increasing need for services among this population, as well as increasing visibility of our organization thanks to improved outreach to the public and to collaborating organizations that refer their clients to us.

Our accomplishments in 2018-2019:
• Created new intensive training for volunteers, including specified trainings for handling housing, sexual assault, resource referrals and burnout prevention.
• Recruited unpaid Volunteer Manager who worked 14-20 hours and recruited, trained, and supervised volunteers in our drop-in and helpline program. This allowed the Director to work on outreach, fundraising and oversight more enhancing our ability to grow.
• Recruited many new board members with a range of expertise, such as a licensed social worker with a trauma-informed background and a non-profit consultant.
• Redesigned our website to provide a new look that was more functional and attractive
* Added new computers to our computer lab for the first time in our history
• Introduced a new program “Train the Trainers” where interested volunteers attended a special de-escalation training, updated it to be more relevant to the Center, and now hold frequent trainings for other volunteers.
• Created a data collection and impact point management system to understand our outcomes further.
• Increased food access by advocating for and receiving more donated deliveries.
• Improved our physical space and security thanks to the generosity of Turner Construction Company.
• Revised our mission statement and community guidelines to better reflect our vision.
• Re-designed and updated our website with exciting new features, including access to an online version of our updated Resource Database.


In the next few years, we hope to increase our operational budget to allow for additional paid staff so that we can reach our goals and manage the impending growth of our programs.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our center is open to anyone for whom woman is a meaningful identifier or lived experience.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

Cambridge Women's Center
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Cambridge Women's Center

Board of directors
as of 01/04/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms Judy Norris

Cambridge Women's Center

Judy Norris

Founder and Full-time Volunteer

Cara Okopny

Jeanne Kadouno

Katie Johnson

Shivani Shikha

Jennine Sawwan

Ruth Erickson

Marina Fisher

Loana Chebutiu

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/4/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability