In 2000, The Women’s Fund of Herkimer and Oneida Counties became an independent nonprofit organization with the help of startup funding from The Community Foundation. Partnering with local organizations, The Women’s Fund provides grants to fund programs that work to benefit women and their families.

Through his involvement with The Community Foundation and The Women’s Fund, former Congressman Richard Hanna became increasingly concerned with the service gaps and lack of available resources for women. Hanna proposed his idea for more direct solutions, which led to the creation of Annie’s Fund, a sub-fund of The Women’s Fund.

Created in 2004, Annie’s Fund is designed to provide small, impactful grants that directly assist individual women who have exhausted all other resources.

Advocates and case workers at several local partner agencies, including the YWCA, Resource Center for Independent Living and Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, work to connect women with assistance through Annie’s Fund.  

Hedy Hage, a long-time board member of The Women’s Fund and co-chair of Annie’s Fund, describes the impact the seemingly small financial investments can make in a woman’s life.

Hage recalls a young mother who was working at a local retail shop where she made slightly over minimum wage. She had just given birth to a baby who was born with a critical illness. Immediately, the newborn was transported to a Syracuse hospital to receive care. Postpartum, separated from her baby and without resources, the young mother needed to find child care services for her older children so that she could travel from Utica to Syracuse to visit her sick baby. Annie’s Fund stepped in with emergency funding to help the young mother pay for gas, tolls and travel expenses to visit her newborn for the length of the baby’s stay in intensive care.

“People are often perplexed that with all the social programs that exist, how can we still have families in constant social chaos?” said Hage. “When economic systems begin to break down and fail, women and children are the ones who suffer the most.”

Annie’s Fund grant applications are reviewed by a committee of 10 women, led by co-chairs Hage and Flossy Mitchell.

“We are women who care deeply about our communities,” said Hage. “We feel that we’re fortunate and it’s important to give back. If we don’t watch out for one another, who will watch out for us?”

Since its creation, Annie’s Fund has awarded more than 325 grants totaling nearly $150,000.

The Community Foundation has awarded more than $325,000 in grants to The Women’s Fund with support from 14 donor-advised funds and has given more than $65,000 in grants to Annie’s Fund with support from four donor-advised funds.

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