Ann W. Madsen


ann_blkdress_webAt the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women, we believe in the old adage that you can’t keep a good woman down.  Or, in our case, a dynamic organization for women. We know that it takes both sunshine and rain to make a flower grow.

Well, we received a lot of rain last week.  The first storm struck when the State Legislature and Governor Scott officially signed off on killing the Displaced Homemakers Program which helped vulnerable people to prepare for gainful employment.  That affected eight agencies across the state including ours. Your support and encouragement really helped to buoy our spirits here.  Reading the comments of almost 700 people who wrote to the governor asking him to preserve the program was very uplifting.  Yes, I read every one. Although we did not prevail in saving this 40-year-old program, we are proud of the impact we continue to make in helping people find gainful employment.

The downpour continued when we received unanticipated notice of a second cut in funding this year from the United Way Suncoast.  On top of an 11% reduction earlier this fiscal year, this time it was a 6% reduction for both of our funded programs: Employment Services and Counseling & Wellness. Ouch! For years, we have relied on the much appreciated support from the United Way for our programs.  While we understand that these cuts were unavoidable, a 17% reduction in one year cuts deep.

For us, the one-two punch of these funding challenges meant restructuring.  But no, you can’t keep a good women’s organization down. Governor Scott has just announced a new $85 Million Florida Job Growth Fund so we hope our friends in the Department of Economic Opportunity will help us identify new opportunities to continue our work in helping put women to work.

The sun is shining this week as we received the great news that Hillsborough County will once again fund our Women Building Futures Program to help women learn the construction trades. Plans for the program are on the drawing board for this fall.  Our new Women’s Business Centre Director Christine Peters has hit the ground running and we are hiring another counselor to keep up with the demand.  We’re thrilled that The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County is expanding funding for our Centre for Girls next year and community partners USAmeriBank, AT&T, the Tampa Bay Rays and Painters on Demand each has granted major gifts to support our work.

We hope you will join them in supporting our efforts here.  I invite you to make a gift of $25, $50, $100 or more today ( and help us continue the work we do across the west Coast of Florida. We continue to give so many women and girls rays of hope. Help us make the sun shine!!