Congratulations to Women Giving Back for being a finalist this year for the 25th Anniversary of the Loudoun Small Business Awards! View the full list of finalists here. These awards will be held on November 8, 2019 at The National Conference Center. Register Here!
Women Giving Back is a finalist for Nonprofit of the Year. Post submitted by Executive Director, Nicole Morris.
1. Tell us your story of how your nonprofit evolved into what it is today.
WGB was founded in 2007 by a group of sales and marketing professional women from the homebuilder industry who discovered while serving on the board of HomeAid Northern Virginia that shelter clients lacked appropriate clothing for job interviews, work or school. Starting from a closet in borrowed spaced at the Northern Virginia’s Builder Association, WGB morphed into a 13,000 square foot “boutique” and warehouse in Sterling.
The women and children that WGB serves are referred by a case manager or social worker in the Greater Washington DC metro area. They may be homeless, victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, or women trying to re-enter society after incarceration. Oftentimes, clients may come to WGB with only the clothes on their back. WGB has created a positive, uplifting environment that brings some normalcy back into the client’s life, many feeling like they are shopping at a department store rather than feeling like they are receiving a hand out.
WGB has transformed from a small agency in 2015 serving 200 women monthly into a regionally recognized homeless service organization within the Greater Washington metro area that serves more than 9,000 women and children in crisis annually. Over 1,200 are Loudoun residents living at or below the federal poverty line.
In addition to these milestones, WGB also expanded its youth outreach program in 2018. The organization provided over 1,000 snack packs to kids facing food insecurities while they were out of school (weekends and seasonal breaks). This past summer, the organization also gave out 430 backpacks filled with new school supplies to students in need. During the Halloween and prom seasons, WGB distributed prom dresses and Halloween costumes, and in December, over 4,000 brand new holiday gifts and bikes were given out during our Holiday Gifts for Kids event.
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
It would be an honor for Women Giving Back and our volunteers to be recognized by the Chamber our Loudoun business community. It means we are seen as a valuable resource to our vulnerable Loudoun residents and our nonprofit partners.
3. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
Word of mouth marketing, it so simple and it can happen anywhere. It happens on social media, at networking events but also at the grocery store, the dentist office or at a sports game. It is free advertising that has a snowball effect. It has opened so many doors to new volunteers, donors and partners.
4. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
There is no one person, we are influenced by so many people along our journey. But it is our clients we serve is what keeps us going. To see their strength and resiliency through traumatic times in their lives inspires us to press on with the work we do every day.
5. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?
Loudoun County has a great sense of community. Women Giving Back has always been moved by the generosity and support from Loudoun business owners and volunteers. It is their commitment and dedication that makes this county a great place to live, work and play.
6. How do you see your business evolving in the next 10 years?
We want Women Giving Back to be the most impactful provider of free quality used clothing to women and children in crisis on the first step to stability by meeting their immediate needs with flexibility and compassion. We have plans to build our own organizational capacity to support our growth and the ever changing needs of those we serve and strengthen our network of referral agency case managers in helping them build resource connections to meet the needs of their clients.
7. If you’re not in the office where can we find you/what is another passion you have?
After working on my husband’s family tree in my free time, genealogy become a passion of mine. Particularly researching the African American genealogy right here in Loudoun. Our County Clerk’s Office kept such great records which I love sharing with my kids. We often go out to visit Loudoun landmarks so they understand where their ancestors came from and what their life was like in this County over 100 years ago.
8. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
Growing up I wanted to be a TV show producer. I dabbled in it a bit in it through volunteering for local community television networks since I was 12. It was a great start to volunteer work and a great way to meet new people.
9. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
What a dream that would be for a mom of four kids! I would probably catch up on cleaning and projects around the house and work on my ancestry research.
10. What is one book that you would recommend everyone read?
“When Helping Hurts” is a great read for anyone but particularly for those who work or volunteer with a human service organization. It helps change the way we look at, respond to and approach poverty. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone and to empower the economically disadvantaged, which is our guiding principal at Women Giving Back.
Thank you to Nicole at Women Giving Back for answering our questions! Good luck at the Small Business Awards this year.