At some times, the hardest part is just knowing where to begin. Other times, you are well on your way, and just need someone to talk to, to bounce ideas off of, and to keep stirring the creative juices. In our work lives and our personal lives, we all need a little connection, and sometimes could even use a little mentoring. Knowing where to receive the right kind of support can be a challenge - particularly if you already feel disconnected. And in a state as vast and varied as Wyoming, opportunities for connection can feel limited.
The internet is so saturated with content it can be hard to find the information that you need; a search for job training yields results in an entirely different state, and affordable housing resources are buried by links to vacation rentals. All this chaos makes finding connections and support even more difficult - the first step boasting a seemingly unbeatable obstacle. This is when Wyoming 211 steps in, an internet and phone search service that filters out the chaos, and connects people with the resources they need.
“Wyoming 211 provides coordinated information and referral, removing the need for multiple resource lists by providing one comprehensive database which contains over 2,600 services and programs statewide. We work directly with nonprofit, government, and faith-based programs and similar entities to update the 2-1-1 databases regularly and to reduce the data-sharing burden of local organizations. By accessing our comprehensive database, we can provide vital information on available services that can meet the pressing needs of consumers, including awareness of programs and services that promote education, health, and tools that can assist in moving them out of poverty and on to self-sufficiency. Access to the database resources is available to everyone through the 211 website,” says Sabrina Lane, Executive Director of Wyoming 211.
From food assistance and employment training, to health services and transportation, Wyoming 211 provides the resources to show you where to begin.
For women, taking the first step can be daunting, maybe it even seems unattainable. A strong role model can help to dispel those fears with advice, connection, and most importantly, understanding. Organizations such as Womentum hope to spread strength and continue the positive ripple of mentoring in order to empower women to take those first steps to growth.
"Womentum fosters leadership among women in our community. To us, leadership is not confined to corporate boardrooms or public offices. We also focus on 'personal leadership' skills that result in confidence in designing our careers, in accepting civic responsibilities, in raising our families, and in mentoring one another. We share our intellectual, philanthropic, and creative spirit to effectuate meaningful social change among our colleagues, constituents, children, and community," explains Samantha Eddy, Executive Director of Womentum.
And although Womentum is based in Wyoming, they offer a mentorship toolkit so that their successful programming can impact far-reaching communities.
Small businesses face a myriad of challenges each day, yet often don’t have the personnel, networking, or experience to handle them. This is especially true in rural areas, like Wyoming.
“According to 'Rural Women Entrepreneurs: Challenges and Opportunities,' published by the National Women’s Business Council, the following are the top challenges unique to rural entrepreneurs: low population density/remoteness, depressed access to markets capital and labor, lack of necessary infrastructure, geographic isolation from support networks, and infrastructure gaps, including reliable internet and telephone services," explains Wendy Fanning, Executive Director of the Wyoming Women’s Business Center (WWBC). “The WWBC’s mission is to enable and empower Wyoming entrepreneurs. The WWBC assists entrepreneurs, especially economically or socially disadvantaged women, through our counseling, training, and micro-finance programs to start, expand, and sustain small businesses in the state of Wyoming. We strive to advance self-sufficiency and equality.”
Even those giving the support need it sometimes. The Wyoming Nonprofit Network is one such organization. “The Wyoming Nonprofit Network represents the collective voice of the Wyoming charitable nonprofit sector and brings best practices, resources, and support to the nonprofit community.” They offer online courses, networking events and workshops, and even advocate for nonprofits on the state and national levels.
“Our greatest impact is in strengthening the leadership, skills, and effectiveness of Wyoming nonprofits; enabling them to further enrich the quality of community and personal life in Wyoming,” says Jody Shields, Executive Director for the Wyoming Nonprofit Network. “Like any other industry, the nonprofit community needs a representative to speak for the sector, especially when faced with challenges like the pandemic. The Wyoming Nonprofit Network serves as the collective voice for the sector.”
“It’s about coming together to become better. It’s about improving ourselves for the improvement of our communities, and sharing our experiences to promote understanding and encouragement. The Hughes Charitable Foundation recognizes and is proud to support organizations that provide connection and mentorship in Wyoming,” says Molly Hughes, Executive Director of the Hughes Charitable Foundation.
No matter who you are or what you need, there is someone who can provide the leadership, support, or resources to have a positive impact. Let’s grow better by working together, and connect the dots of a greater future.