WELL: Empowering women in the Central Valley

By TERESA HAMMOND

It started with a simple piece of paper and a seminar. A vision and a mission Alana Scott imagined coming to pass in the later part of her life, perhaps when she retired, but certainly not now. A vision, which was a tribute to the life of her mother, who passed at the age of 45 when Scott was just 15 years old.

Women’s Education and Leadership League (WELL) a Central Valley-based 501(c)3 non-profit began two years ago almost on a whim, as Scott began reaching out to friends and sharing her passion and vision.

“The speaker asked us to write down our wildest dreams, if fear of failure was not an option,” Scott recalled. “I immediately wrote down, I’m going to start a non-profit to help women in honor of my mom.”

She wrote that in 2012. In 2014, friend/co-founder Michael Faircloth reached out to her to share a story about his mom and struggles he faced growing up.

“He didn’t know my story. He didn’t know my dream,” she said, noting an article Faircloth shared at the time of the powerful effects of empowering women. “Hearing his story made me realize I wasn’t alone in my vision.”

Along with a handful of friends and fellow professionals, WELL was co-founded in 2014 by Scott, Faircloth, Matthew Latig, Stephanie Martin, Edward Martin and Lisa Mazza.

Two years later, WELL now has over 500 members, 126 ambassadors, over 50 Leadership members and has helped over 600 women with issues such as divorce, loss of loved ones, starting a business and preparing children for college.

“There really isn’t a specific demographic other than women in need,” Scott said of who the WELL woman might be.

Expanding on what was meant by ‘need,’ Scott shared the group focuses on three key areas for helping empower women: financial, emotional and physical wellness courses, all of which are free to its members.

“We have helped women in their 20s leave abusive marriages. We have helped women in their 60s start their dream business,” she continued. “I have been told there isn’t a group like us. In our leadership team, we have accomplished women. All are successful women volunteering their talents and their time.”

Classes in the three key areas are offered monthly at varying locations in the Modesto area. As a not for profit, Scott and her team rely heavily on the generosity of the community and donations. Currently class spaces have been donated for use. The group also host WELL Wednesdays on the first Wednesday of each month at Skewers in Modesto. Here, they offer current members, as well as potential members, a meet and greet opportunity.

“It’s the least committal part of what we do,” Scott said. “It shows people how they can get involved with what we do.”

The non-profit’s website states: “Financial security leads to emotional well-being and a healthy lifestyle is strongly connected to feeling good about oneself. We strongly believe these three pillars (financial, physical and emotional) are a winning formula for women to thrive.”

According to Scott her vision began as a self-funded endeavor, as she and founders followed their passion and instinct. Non-profit status offers them additional opportunity in the area of growth, as well as partnerships with groups that can additionally benefit from their programs.

“We have now completed one fundraiser and we are working on our fund development and grants,” she said. “It’s important to us that all of our programs remain no cost to the participants.”

As exposure continues, their outreach expands and women regardless of social status reply, Scott is living witness to a dream which would make any mother proud.

“I imagined this would happen when I was older, maybe in another city,” Scott shared of her initial vision, “but how amazing that it’s happening here and now. I didn’t realize there were so many incredible women in the Central Valley until we spoke up.”

For information on WELL (Women’s Education and Leadership League) classes, service and opportunities visit www.well4women.org or call (209) 541-8951.

“We’re really still in the beginning stages,” Scott added of the not for profit and its growth potential, “and can use help from anyone who has the knowledge to offer in varying areas. Key donors and sponsorships are also important to our growth.

“It’s really all about the mission and making a difference.”

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