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Women Inspired Network Awards Local Nonprofits Over $11,000


The Women Inspired Network, a charitable giving circle of local, philanthropic women, awarded over $11,000 to three area nonprofits recently at its annual Celebration of Giving at Illinois Valley Community College.

WIN grant recipients included the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Chaplain Division, $4,500, to assist individuals or families immediately in crisis. The program addresses urgent needs such as food, clothing, and transportation.

“Our goal is to get victims to the next level of hope,” said Chaplain Dave Van Laar.

Safe Journeys’ “Women Employed = Women Empowered” program, $4,500, for employment skills workshops for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Safe Journeys, formerly ADV/SAS, will teach clients how to write resumes, prepare for interviews and develop basic work skills. It will also help job seekers secure childcare and practice self-care.

“We empower women to live independently,” said Safe Journeys Executive Director Susan Bursztynsky.

Our Savior Lutheran Church of Seneca received $2,663 for its “Packs for Pals,” a program created six years ago to feed food insecure students at six Seneca-area schools.

The program serves about 160 students during the school year and nearly 100 in the summer. Our Savior pastor Kris Zierke said all churches in Seneca contribute.

“Our aim is simple: to feed children,” she said. “This grant will buy food for students.”

WIN Grants Committee Chair Debbie Buffington said of the 2023 recipients, “We know these organizations are going to make life better for someone.”

Starved Rock Country Community Foundation President Fran Brolley said, “These organizations demonstrate the resolve to continue their good work year-after-year and they do it with integrity and compassion for the most vulnerable.”

Since its inception in 2016, WIN has awarded nearly $90,000 to local nonprofits who support and enhance the lives of women and children in Starved Rock Country.

SRCCF and WIN co-founder Pamela Beckett said, “Starved Rock Country Community Foundation’s mission is to ‘Connect people who care with causes that matter.’ That is what WIN is doing.”

WIN offers a $200 annual membership, in addition to Emerald memberships for $500 and Diamond memberships for $1,000. Any donation is appreciated, however. For information, visit or Facebook at Women Inspired Network – WIN.



PHOTO: WIN grant recipients are (from left): Dave Van Laar of the La Salle County Sheriff’s Chaplain Division; Kris Zierke, Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Seneca; Susan Bursztynsky, Safe Journeys Executive Director; Melissa Engel, Safe Journeys Community Engagement Director; Debbie Buffington, WIN Grants Committee Chair; and Fran Brolley, SRCCF President.

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