Women helping women

By on September 20, 2010

[quote]Group offers networking, charitable opportunities
Lynn Meredith
KANEVILLE—Women helping women is a win-win situation, and that’s just what the local W.I.N.S. organization is all about.

W.I.N.S., which stands for Women Insight Networking and Service, is a business group that provides personal and professional development opportunities for Kaneland area women while also serving the community.

In 2005, four women from Kaneville who wanted to share their business skills and knowledge started the group. The idea caught on, and more and more women began attending the organization’s monthly luncheon meetings at Fireside Grill in Sugar Grove. W.I.N.S. currently has 60 members.

The organization’s goal is to educate members on business matters. W.I.N.S. hosts speakers who talk on topics such as business planning, motivation and women’s health issues.

The group also chooses a monthly service project that members may support.

“The ladies on the (W.I.N.S.) board ask themselves, ‘Who can we benefit in our community?’” said the organization’s marketing director, Michelle Brokop. “One time we donated to the Elderday Center in Batavia. We brought Play Doh, glitter and craft paper to the meeting. When we made the donation, it was like Christmas Day.”

Each month, the group holds a 50/50 raffle that benefits the W.I.N.S Scholarship Fund at Waubonsee Community College. The recipient is a female student with clear business goals and a well-rounded background in serving the community. This year, the award went to Tara Olsen.

W.I.N.S members come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are self-employed business owners, others work for corporations, and some are educators.

“It’s a good, mixed bag of women,” longtime member Barb Nielson said. “It’s very rewarding to meet face to face.”

Members can be as active in the group as they want.

“Sometimes it’s an escape from being a mom, and they just come out to enjoy lunch,” Brokop said. “Others simply do the donation part and don’t attend the meetings.”

Nielson started participating in the group after years of belonging to chambers of commerce and leads groups. She recalls when the “good ol’ boys’ network” was in place, and networking took place over drinks or on the golf course.

“I heard of a women’s group offered in the Kane County area that was not affiliated with chambers, that would be other women in business,” Nielson said. “I find that women have more in common. Most are juggling children and jobs. They have many of the same issues and a different outlook (than men).”