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Marblehead women helping to fund the future

The Women’s Fund of Essex County is a nonprofit organization focused on funding programs that help to change the lives of women and girls facing hardships. 

Its board consists of 18 members, six of whom are Marblehead residents, who have significantly impacted the fund’s work. With its 20th anniversary celebration coming up on Friday, Oct. 13 in Danversport, four of the board members from Marblehead reflected on their experiences helping women across Essex County. 

The board is unique in that it raises funds for grants that go toward organizations, rather than direct services. It’s also unique in the fact that the fund is made up entirely of volunteers. 

According to Moore, the organization’s total funding for last year was $382,000 in addition to $30,000 that the fund donated to charity.

Board member Trish Moore said that the fund focuses on areas such as economic self-sufficiency, leadership, empowerment,  and mental health.

“What we do is take your dollar and it has the ability to have the impact broadly on organizations,” Moore said.

Board member Kim Trudel moved to Marblehead at roughly the same time the Women’s Fund of Essex County was established. A first-generation college graduate, Trudel’s career involved helping tech businesses grow into large worldwide corporations. She realized that she wanted to apply her work to local nonprofits, which is how she became involved with the women’s fund. Trudel said that she wanted to be a part of an organization that not only supports women, but their families too.

“Being a woman in the tech field, I kind of gravitated toward something related to women, economic development, empowerment, education,” Trudel said. “But also with a strong interest in how do we not only help women, but help them help their daughters, help them help their sons.”

One of her most impactful stories that speaks to the work the fund does comes from when it was able to help a single mother falling short on funds to pay for her tuition at North Shore Community College. Her car was also breaking down, forcing her to make tough decisions.

Trudel said through its partnership with NSCC, the fund was able to provide the woman with a “micro grant,” where she was awarded a small sum of money that paid for her car to get fixed.

With the grant, she graduated, got a job working in her community at a hospice facility, and was able to give back and help families going through tough end-of-life decisions with loved ones.

“It’s a powerful story of how one small act of kindness, or act of empowerment, can have such a broad impact beyond what you might otherwise think,” Trudel said.

Board member Laurie Boggis is set to take over as its treasurer in the next few months. Boggis became involved with the fund after Moore recruited her. She said that she had been involved in a number of nonprofits, including Driftwood Garden Club, a Mabrlehead-based nonprofit where she had met Moore. 

One of her big projects is currently preparing for the fund’s 20th anniversary celebration, which she said will have a huge turnout, with more than 200 guests expected to attend.

“It’s going to be our biggest fundraiser of the year, both celebrating what we’ve accomplished, and also moving forward for the next 20 years and beyond that,” Boggis said. 

Amanda Paglia is a newcomer to the town, as well as the fund. Paglia moved to Marblehead roughly a year ago. She, like Boggis, joined after meeting Moore, and said that by joining the team, she was hoping to have an opportunity to get involved with and learn about the community and connect with other women who share the same values.

“I really wanted to find a way to learn about the community and be involved with the community,” Paglia said. “It’s been just a great opportunity to meet other women who do care about community.”

One of Paglia’s goals in joining the board is to continue to spread the word about the women’s fund, particularly to younger women, in order to start bringing in and preparing the next generations. 

Though the women’s fund helps communities all over Essex County, with six Marblehead residents on its board Trudel said there is a “great sense of civic pride” in town when asked about what it’s like working with her fellow neighbors.

“There’s a lot of people who want to be involved in the community in a way that is demonstrable or has impact,” Trudel said.