Fund for Women & Girls Honors Gems of the Valley

CANFIELD, Ohio – The Fund for Women & Girls, a community-led fund at the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, put the spotlight on the work of five women at its Gems of the Valley event.

The honor recognizes women doing important work to make the Valley a better place for all, especially when that work is overlooked or underappreciated. 

Selected by the Fund for Women & Girls Guiding Circle, this year’s Gems are:

  • Lynn Anderson, activist and organizer for Sustainable Youngstown.
  • Meghan DeGregory, director of operations for Thrive 10:10.
  • Jennifer Evans, housing program manager for Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.
  • Allison Smith, artist and founder of Outreach Quilt and Artist Guild.
  • Dee Traylor, manager of the Resource Mothers program at Mercy Health.

“All of these women do what they do because they’re passionate about it, not because they’re trying to win awards,” said Jana Coffin, a member of the Guiding Circle and co-director of Project MKC who helped organize the event. “The Gems of the Valley award exists to say, ‘We see you.’ This work matters and impacts so many people. Our communities are better for having women like Meghan, Dee, Jennifer, Allison and Lynn in them.”

At the Oct. 12 event at Drake’s Landing in Canfield, each honoree spoke about their work and why uplifting other women is important to them. Common threads arose throughout the night: Work that builds up the community can’t be done in a silo; setbacks are temporary, and the work done by women is too often invisible.

“In every nomination the Fund for Women & Girls got for this year’s Gems of the Valley, we saw people talk about not just how important the outcomes of these women’s work are, but how often they’re providing support to others, even if it’s just lending an ear or making someone feel safe and welcomed,” said Josh Medore, community engagement coordinator for the Community Foundation and staff liaison to the Fund for Women & Girls. “That kind of work – emotional labor – is just as important and deserves to be recognized because it is so often taken for granted.”

As a community-led fund, each donor to the Fund for Women & Girls has a say in how grants from the fund are awarded, and the Guiding Circle, composed of local women, works to develop the fund and set focus areas for it. 

In May, the fund awarded three grants to local organizations with programs that work directly with young women. 

For more information on the Fund for Women & Girls or to donate, click HERE.

Pictured at top: The 2023 Gems of the Valley honorees are, from left, Meghan DeGregory, Allison Smith, Jennifer Evans and Dee Traylor. Not pictured is Lynn Anderson.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.