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(Rock Island, Ill.) – Twenty years ago, a diverse group of women met to discuss how they might support women in need across the Metro Atlanta area. As a result, Mary Frances Bowley became more aware of significant gaps in the services available to many of those who want, but can’t access, help. Two decades later, Ms. Bowley now leads Wellspring Living, a thriving, multi-faceted organization that provides services for sex trafficking victims and at-risk women and girls. Wellspring Living has been awarded a $10,000 Nation of Neighbors℠ grant by Royal Neighbors of America, one of the first and largest women-led insurers in the U.S. “We are so blessed and thankful,” says Ms. Bowley, Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit. “We simply could not do the work we do without people like Royal Neighbors recognizing the need and participating with us.”
Wellspring Living began with the opening of a home for women in 2001. “Our first client was a woman in her twenties who had been exploited as a young teen. She taught us what survivors of trafficking need – which is basically everything,” says Ms. Bowley. Many victims struggle to gain a foothold on surviving not just due to the trauma they’ve experienced but because they missed out on opportunities to learn basic life skills. They simply have too much baggage. “But I can tell you,” Ms. Bowley states, “if they’ve lived through it, they’re tough. We provide access to the help they need and want, and the results are transformative.” In 2008, the organization opened a second home for girls ages 12-17.
Ms. Bowley states, “The more you work with survivors, the more you learn what the unique needs are and where the gaps are. One significant hole was securing sustainable employment.” In response, Wellspring Living partnered with a staffing agency to create the Women’s Academy. Ms. Bowley says the grant funds received from Royal Neighbors will go to support the Academy, which offers two ten-week programs – a GED Track and a Career Track. Once clients have completed the Career Track, they can interview for a 12-week paid internship with one of fifteen local businesses who partner with Wellspring Living. Demand for the Academy has grown, especially during the pandemic. Ms. Bowley says, “The timing of this grant could not be better! As the need continues to grow, we will be able to keep up.”
Beth Ann Fox, Manager of the Portfolio Management Office at Royal Neighbors, will lead the virtual award presentation. “We are honored to be able to support Wellspring Living and the great work they are doing to help victims of trafficking and those at-risk in Metro Atlanta. For more than 125 years, Royal Neighbors has sought to empower women to make a positive impact in their communities. Wellspring Living is making such an impact and their mission – to help some of the most disenfranchised women and girls in their community develop the courage to move forward and the confidence to succeed – is inspirational.”
Nation of Neighbors is a Royal Neighbors of America philanthropy program that provides financial assistance to individuals who have a plan to start or expand a business, organization, program, or nonprofit that helps women and/or girls in their community. To date, more than $2 million has been awarded nationwide.
About Royal Neighbors of America
Royal Neighbors of America is a unique provider of life insurance and annuities whose mission is to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. In 1895, Royal Neighbors was founded as a membership organization by nine pioneering women who recognized the need to insure the lives of women and children and the importance of localized philanthropy. Headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois, with an operation in Mesa, Arizona, Royal Neighbors serves more than 215,000 members.
Todd Hirst, Director of Marketing
Todd.Hirst@royalneighbors.org | (309) 732-8286