Established in 1990 by co-founders Paige Oristano and Louise Moss, Women’s Mentoring Network is an established organization serving Fairfield County. The agency is non-profit and is funded through individual contributions, foundations, corporate grants, gifts from community organizations and special events. There are no fees for services. Extensive volunteer participation is an integral component of all programs.
- In 1989, Paige Oristano spent a year researching and designing the pilot project
- Paige designed a survey instrument and interviewed over 200 women who were on welfare or were employed in minimum wage jobs in order to better understand their needs as well as their personal obstacles to self-sufficiency. Additionally, she met with the leaders of other state based empowerment programs, in the areas of literacy, domestic violence counseling , youth mentoring and the like
- In 1990, Louise Moss, a case worker at the local welfare office, joined the project. With technical and financial assistance from the United Ways of America, Connecticut and Stamford and under the sponsorship of Person-to-Person in Darien, a very successful small pilot project with 10 women was launched
- Louise Moss, a case worker at the local welfare office, joined as a co-founder after the launch of the pilot project
- Today, the organization serves approximately 300 women annually
- Louise served as Executive Director until 2014 and continues to serve as a board member
The mission of Women’s Mentoring Network (WMN) is to provide career, educational and personal resources that lead to the economic empowerment of low-income women and their families.
Economic empowerment fosters positive life expectations. It is the most effective strategy against homelessness, hunger and social disorder and consequently, is the most effective strategy to break the cycle of generational poverty. It is the foundation for a workforce that contributes to the needs of today’s marketplace and to a quality workforce for tomorrow.
WMN is nationally recognized as a Presidential Point of Light; identified as “one of America’s best grass roots programs in the battle against hunger and poverty” by Reinvesting In America; cited for its “commitment to the empowerment of women and families” by Steve and Sharon Fiffer in 50 Ways to Help Your Community; and featured as a model for replication in What Works: Effective Programs for Children and Families, United Way of America. WMN received Stamford’s 1999 Women In Management Recognition Award for “exemplary leadership offering unique and beneficial services to women in poverty.” Louise Moss received a “Woman of Distinction” award in 2011.