Inspired by the teachings of Vatican II to “read the signs of the times”, the women of Massachusetts Women-Church recognized the impact of societal changes on low-income women. Without marketable skills, and with the reduction of government subsidies for job training programs and related services in the early 1990’s, women were facing greater challenges in their attempts to move out of lives of poverty.
The women of MA Women-Church saw the need and responded by forming a separate non-profit corporation, Lost Coin Women's Fund, Inc.
The name, The Lost Coin Women’s Fund, symbolically recalls the Biblical passage (Luke 15:8), recognizing the treasure inherent within all women, and concern for those who are victims of oppression, victimization or exploitation, with very little way or means to express their unique richness.
Incorporated in 1993, The Lost Coin Women’s Fund, Inc. (LCWF) was registered as a charitable, non-profit 501 c (3) organization and these three women began working to help low-income Massachusetts women who were economically distressed to improve their quality of life.
The First Objective was to combat the primary causes of women’s poverty. The United States Census Bureau data on women found that the estimated lifetime earnings of a woman without a high school diploma was $700,000. But add a college degree and the earnings jump to $1.9 million dollars. Add a professional degree and it is $2.9 million dollars. In April 2003 a group of female legislators released a statistical report on the living standards of women in Massachusetts. The findings underline the need to give more women access to education if they are to become self-sufficient in gainful employment.
The Second Objective was to develop potential abilities in women, build self confidence and foster recognition of themselves as their own future economic capital through furthering their education. Thus their role in the community is changed and their contributions enrich themselves, their families and their community at large.
The Third Objective was to raise necessary program funds. In 1993 they began raising funds and awarded $2,635 to 5 women and gave some assistance to two small organizations. In 2012, LCWF awarded $24,545 in grants to 23 women. Since it’s inception in 1992, over $400,000 has been awarded to hundreds of women. These women have entered various fields of work, including teaching, nursing, social service, computer/medical technology, home health care and many other meaningful fields.
Currently, the LCWF has a Board of Directors (8 to 12 members) consisting of a President, Treasurer, Clerk, Development Committee and Awards Committee. It is comprised of professionals, including an attorney, teachers, business entrepreneurs, health care and social service professionals. All Board members have a significant personal history of participation in organizations which provide services to low-income people. Marie Sheehan, one of the original founders of LCWF, served for many years as Director of Community Services at Catholic Charities; Marie was also the founder of MainSpring House and Shelter located in Brockton, MA.
The LCWF Board meets each month (except July) reviewing applications and awarding grants to women who meet our low-income guidelines (yearly income is equal to or less than 2.5% of the family income level established by the U.S. Census Bureau for determining poverty status). The members of the LCWF Awards Committee act as advocates for the grant applicants; grants are awarded following presentation of the applicant’s information and a vote by the Board members. All applications are supported with personal recommendations and verification of wages and educational status.
In order to aid in our fundraising efforts, LCWF developed the use of a newsletter in order to inform its donors of our activities and progress. In each newsletter, we include snippets from letters of thanks from our grantees. These words of gratitude from women who work so hard to secure a better life for themselves and their families serve to further motivate our mission.