Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Eye on Community: Women In Need

Oct 18, 2011 06:37PM ● By Anonymous

Raising a family in today’s economy is more of a daunting task than ever. Families are struggling to simply make ends meet, and with an increase in the divorce rate to over 50 percent, they are falling apart at the seams. Thankfully, the economic pressures can be subsided through various organizations focused providing the chance to become financially independent. One organization devoted to this concern is Women In Need (WIN), “giving each individual the opportunity to improve their life by providing programs and services that educate, enrich, and empower.”

Based in Chestertown, WIN is a non-profit organization that is primarily volunteer-driven and services the needs of families in both Kent and Queen Anne’s County. With their mission to assist those in economic crisis, WIN aims for creating financially independent families through the use of a welfare alternative. Beginning in 1997, WIN was born from the minds of a group of friends who witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of an emotional and economic crisis. These friends formed WIN in hopes of providing deserving families with the chance to stand on their own two feet once again.

“We watched a personal friend struggle as she went through a separation. As a single mother, we watched the devastating toll the separation took on her and her children,” says Executive Director Karen Dionisio. “We decided then that we would form this organization to help women in need from becoming a statistic.”

WIN operates both family and youth programs that concentrate on improving the lives of all those affected by economic tragedies. Transitional housing is based out of three locations in Kent County, where qualified families may reside for a short period while focusing upon self-sufficiency. Rental subsidies are rental properties, owned by WIN, are also available. The Emergency Assistance program gives funds to families for child-care, utilities, and medical prescriptions. The Basics is a program operated by the WIN Thrift Store that offers basic and practical household items at no cost to those who qualify. Family programs offered are not only for servicing women in need, but also service senior citizens and single fathers; expanding the demographic to better serve the community.

The Alley Teen Center is another facility operated by WIN that takes a more youth-oriented concentration. There are three youth programs offered at The Alley Teen Center that focus on enhancing academics, personal relationships, and self-esteem. The After-School Tutoring program involves both middle and high school students, allowing for one-on-one support and academic help. The Youth 2 Youth program focuses on building relationships and learning to have safe and drug-free fun. The Girls Circle program is rooted in promoting self-esteem through the use of social support and strength-building exercises to increase good body image ideals.

“The Alley Teen Center was created because there was a need for single, working parents to have academic help for their children. The Alley Teen Center has been open for four years and has been tremendously successful,” says Dionisio.

Volunteer opportunities range far and wide, from volunteering at the WIN Thrift Store and Alley Teen Center to becoming a corporate sponsor. Also, donations are always welcome in monetary form or household items. For a community-driven donation, on September 24th, the Chestertown Half Marathon will be donating proceeds from the event to both Alley Teen Center and WIN.

To learn more about Women In Need, visit
—Yvonne Lawson

Alley Center student volunteers at the 2010 Chestertown Half Marathon

2010 Board President Liz Seidel and Executive Director Karen Dionisio at the 2010 Tory Toss event during the Chestertown Tea Party.

Youth Director Elisa Medrano and Alley Center tutor Cassi Ervin at the Youth the Youth Conference in Road Island