In 2005, a group of women got together to support the community and offer women a space to take action and have their voices heard, and they formed The Gathering of Women.
The Gathering of Women (GOW) forms community projects that bring economic opportunities to people in need. The nonprofit organization has developed several programs over the years. These include music classes for children, a prom dress donation service, and a community garden with opportunities for children to plant and collect the harvest.
The nonprofit also has a program called Women Helping Other Women (WHOW). This program helps new mothers who are making an adoption plan to secure housing, household goods, and other economic support.
In 2020, members started The GOW Food Pantry. They collect food from St. Pete Free Clinic and Hope America and distribute it directly to individuals weekly. They also deliver to seniors across Pinellas County who cannot travel to the pantry.
Samantha Richardson-Hardy, one of the organization’s founders, says the food pantry began in response to challenges raised by the pandemic. Yet, she’s seeing a greater need for the pantry in 2022 than ever.
Empowering Women To Uplift Others
The power behind the organization comes from the cohesiveness of the women running the programs. Claretha Harris, another longtime member, says the organization’s togetherness makes it successful. She describes the group as “women working together in harmony, doing what we can to benefit the community and strengthen the families.” All volunteers commit time every day and work together to “lift each other up and lift the community up.”
Forming partnerships with other organizations and obtaining support from the community are also key factors in the organization’s success. Samantha says most funding comes directly from fundraising, which vastly declined when the pandemic hit.
Grants from Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF) in 2020 were GOW’s only funding source that year. The Pinellas CARES Nonprofit Partnership Fund and Tampa Bay Resiliency Fund grants allowed the organization to start home deliveries for the pantry and get the necessary resources to continue programs. Samatha says the organization is “forever grateful” for this funding from PCF.
GOW empowers women by giving them space and a voice in the community. Samantha explains that women must have their voices heard and share their perspectives on important issues. She says, “We need to speak up for ourselves and bring up our concerns, talk about our needs.” Claretha also mentions that “women being able to hear other women’s perspectives is empowering, enriching, and reassuring.”
For those interested in getting involved, the organization always needs more volunteers to help with the food pantry and other programs on Tuesday through Friday. You can find its contact information on The Gathering of Women website.
Samantha says seeing people give to others is one of the most impactful things she has experienced in her time with The Gathering of Women. “Many people who have been fortunate themselves can take that and turn it around and give it to others … that’s amazing to me, that’s an amazing act,” she explains.
Your Membership Uplifts Our Community
Support for organizations like Gathering of Women is made possible through membership gifts to Pinellas Community Foundation. PCF pools these donations with other members’ contributions for maximum impact. Your gift of any amount makes a difference.