How to Help Boston's Women in Need
In 2017, over 11 percent of Massachusetts women between the ages of 18-64 had incomes below the poverty line. Compare that number to 8.4 percent for men, and over 13 percent for children under 18 in families with incomes below the poverty line. On top of that, data shows that about 45 percent of Boston households with children under age 18 are headed by single mothers, according to the Boston Planning and Development Agency.
Over the past several years, the state of Massachusetts and the city of Boston have made great strides toward providing resources for low-income women and their families. Dozens of organizations have been established to help women receive an education, get affordable housing, find childcare, and more. However, these organizations are largely driven by members of the community, and rely on support through volunteers, donations, and financial assistance. Here are some ways that you can give back to Boston’s women in need.
Volunteer at a Women’s Shelter
There are dozens of homeless shelters across Boston, several of which cater specifically to women. Look into opportunities with Rosie’s Place (South End), Women’s Lunch Place (Back Bay), and St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children (Dorchester). Shelter volunteers will often be tasked with preparing and serving meals, leading workshops, organizing food pantries, and creating relationships with women staying at the shelter. Some shelters also offer more specialized programming, such as English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes and computer literacy tutors. Keep in mind that most shelters require volunteers to complete an application and undergo a background check before getting approved.
Donate Gently Used Clothing
When it’s time for a closet cleanout, donate your gently worn clothing to an organization that supports women in need, like Dress for Success. The national organization provides professional attire and development tools to help low-income women get jobs in their community. Dress for Success requires donated clothing, shoes, and handbags to be in nearly-new condition, seasonally appropriate, and free of stains, odors, and animal hair. Check their website to ensure they are accepting new items, and then schedule an appointment to drop off your items at their Brighton outpost.
Mentor a Young Woman
Building confident, successful women starts with educating young girls and teenagers. One of the most rewarding ways to give back to women in the Boston community is to become a mentor. Organizations like Strong Women, Strong Girls, and the Big Sister Association provide opportunities for college- and professional-aged women to empower young women through programming that focuses on leadership, diversity, female role models, personal development, and creativity. Once accepted into the program, mentors are matched with a young woman, and the pair spend time doing activities together, like going to the beach, visiting a museum, or seeing a sporting event. Get an application from your local chapter, and learn about eligibility requirements for mentors.
Host a Collection Drive
If you’re already involved in an organization through your school, company, church, or other group, think about hosting your own collection drive for a Boston-area charity. Organizations such as On the Rise allow groups to collect toiletries and clothing for women in their day program. They’re always in need of common items, like lotion, deodorant, razors, water bottles, chapstick, and more. They also encourage groups to collect seasonal items, like scarves, gloves, and boots for the fall and winter months. Check out their collection drive page for promotional ideas, and to see what items are most needed.
Give a Financial Gift
Volunteers are the fuel of many organizations for women in need, but financial donations are what keep these great organizations up and running. Consider a monthly donation to a women’s shelter or charity in your neighborhood. Often times, small amounts like $15 are enough to make a significant difference in the lives of homeless and low-income women. Ask your employer if they’ll match your donation, or encourage your company to give a donation of their own. Your financial donation helps shelters provide nutritious food for guests, supply members with basic hygiene products, offer counseling services, and more.
The organizations mentioned here are just some of the many charities in and around the Boston area that are dedicated to helping women in need. Find an organization that you’re passionate about, and donate your time, money, or used items to make a difference in the lives of women in the community.
Beth Rivelli is a Boston-based contributor for JUGs. She's a full-time content marketer, part-time Netflix addict, and self-proclaimed ice cream expert. Follow her @elizabethrivelli on Instagram.