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Philanthropy A to Z


Text by Julie Craven Wagner

Two simple words; one powerful mission. On the threshold of their 20th year, the organization whose mission helps women in need of stability, due to life-altering events like divorce, job loss or other challenges, find pathways to self-sufficiency. The organization, based in Harwich, has only six employees, drawing its strength through a network of over 250 active volunteers who provide and deliver the wide variety of services the women need. Assistance like legal support, employment and educational counseling and fundamentals of finance are the kinds of resources the organization provide to women at a time when they may not have anywhere else to turn.

Lisa Guyon, who has served as executive director for nearly two years, says, “We work with women individually to help them identify what service will help them stabilize their lives and navigate through a transition, and then we pair them with a volunteer who has an expertise in that area.” In a normal year, WE CAN serves approximately 2,700 women, from the bridges to Provincetown. Of course, 2020 has not been a normal year. 

“Pre-COVID, we were offering services in 11 of the 15 Cape towns,” Guyon explains. “Ironically, the way we are using technology now to deliver services is helping us redefine what expansion and access looks like. We have learned we can still deliver value in one-to-one counseling, and in some ways, better serve women who would have had geographic or time barriers in the past, it is a much more open platform. And it has helped to confirm that when one-on-one is critical, like in mentoring, we need to prioritize how those services are best delivered.” Guyon says that the future will probably be a hybrid model of delivery for the variety of support the organization offers, and hopefully maximize the resources and impact.

The local business community has been invaluable to WE CAN’s success. “We literally couldn’t do our work without the support of the local community,” Guyon confirms. “From individual donors, to local businesses, to a variety of foundations and grant makers, everyone plays a role.” Guyon cites the organization’s strong fiscal ethos and the importance of running a nonprofit like a mission-driven business when she mentions a program called Community Builders which includes businesses who have made a three-year commitment, allowing WE CAN to budget appropriately. “In many instances, those businesses support us because they have seen the personal impact of our work first hand, either through someone in their company or someone close to them,” she shares.

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