For over two years I have been working with All About Women, but my time with this organization is coming to a close at the end of March. Although I could not be more excited about my plans for the future, I will miss being a part of the great things All About Women is doing for Middle Tennessee. I have been working behind the scenes sending email blasts, coordinating services for our free health fairs, and writing grant proposals, but for my farewell I am coming out of the wings to tell you why I think AAW is one of the best nonprofits in Nashville.
I could tell you how dedicated the board members are, despite their busy schedules and demanding careers. Every one of them is an inspiring woman. I could talk about how Sally Smallwood’s vision of removing barriers that keep women from leading healthy lives has changed my perspective on healthcare. I could describe the feeling I got when I found out that one woman was diagnosed with breast cancer after being screened at an AAW event – and that 57 others were able to sleep easier at night knowing they were cancer free.
More than anything, though, I want to tell you about the Inspiring Women Grant Program. Simply put, this program is special. The free health fairs are a great way for us to reach a larger population of women, but it seemed like we needed another branch of programming that would allow us to affect positive change through a more focused approach.
On a smaller scale, the grant program allows AAW to have a direct, sustained impact on groups of women. The best part of the program, and what makes it so special, is that you do not have to be affiliated with any kind of organization to apply. For example, one of the 2014 grants was awarded to Girlfriends in the Garden, a group of neighborhood friends who wanted to learn how to grow their own food and eat healthier. All you need to apply is this: a group of three or more women, a plan of action, and a goal.
The first grant we awarded in 2013 went to Tied Together, a smoking cessation support group. The women in this group had serious nicotine addictions. They wanted to change for their families, so that they could be around as long as possible for their children and spouses. We kept in regular contact with this group, and it was wonderful to see their transformation. All of them cut back significantly on their daily intake, and one woman was able to quit completely. They reported feeling more energetic and many of them lost weight as an additional bonus.
Another group, the Women of Focus Book Club, set out to lose 605 pounds collectively. They read books about how to live healthier and happier lives and take back control of their own bodies. Although they have not yet reached their weight loss goal, they have made progress in other ways. On average, each participant lost between seven and ten pounds and their physicians have reported that their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers are down. They are feeling more energetic, require fewer medications, have decreased aches and pains, and their outlook on life, food, and cooking has changed drastically.
The fantastic thing about the Women of Focus is that they strived to change from the inside out, addressing the mental issues that were keeping them down while also working to get physically fit through diet and exercise. That kind of change is sustainable, and I expect those ladies will continue to grow and progress even after the program ends.
Journey to Health, the third and final grant recipients for 2014, recently sent us an account of their success story. Faith Family Medical Clinic identified a group of ten women who were at risk or suffering from a variety of conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Over a period of four months the group trained for a 5K run, and the group swelled from ten to sixteen individuals. Family members flew in from Arizona and New York to support and run alongside their loved ones in the Women’s Running Series 5K. In total, 21 patients, family, friends, and FFMC staff ran the race and reached their goal.
In less than two weeks, All About Women board members will begin reviewing grant applications for 2015. If you have wanted to make a change but have not had the motivation or resources to do so, I strongly encourage you to apply. Rally some friends and make a plan, because it is a whole lot easier to change your life if you have the support of a few good friends. Click here for more information about how to apply, and mark your calendar for March 31st, when applications are due.
If nobody has told you recently, let me remind you: you are powerful, and you are in control of your own life.