For this installment of our series of Q&A’s with local service organizations, we focus on the Young Women’s League. Many thanks to club president Maia Sapanski for responding to our questions below.
New Canaanite: Is the Young Women’s League of New Canaan part of a national or international organization? If so, please provide details of that organization, such as the year it started, its size and scope.
Maia Sapanski: No, the YWL is a local organization.
Please tell us a little about the Young Women’s League of New Canaan itself. When was it founded, how many members does it have and how often do those members meet? Also, please let us know how members may inquire about joining.
The Young Women’s League is a service-based, social organization where women come together to enrich their community. We were founded in New Canaan in 1973 and currently have 130 members. We have quarterly meetings in September, November, March, and June for the membership to get committee updates, meet grant recipients, listen to a variety of speakers and socialize. In addition to meetings, our membership participates in service opportunities, committee meetings for our five fundraisers, and monthly social events. We also coordinate The Little Rams, a service league for preschool and elementary aged children. Women interested in learning more or joining the YWL can contact our New Member Chair via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit our website (www.ywlnewcanaan.org).
Talk to us about local impact. What project or projects can you highlight to give our readers an idea of what the Young Women’s League has accomplished here in town?
This past year, the League focused our fundraising efforts on children’s charities, and launched a service league for preschool and elementary aged children in our town, the Little Rams. The Little Rams completed service activities throughout the year, including delivering pumpkins to Staying Put residents, sorting toys for Kids Helping Kids, and multiple visits to the Waveny Care Center. This culminated in the Little Rams Fun Run in May, where children raised over $9,000 for the New Canaan YMCA’s special needs programming.
How does the Young Women’s League raise funds?
We will host five fundraisers this year to raise money for organizations that embody our giving theme: Strong Women, Strong Communities. Our annual black tie gala, Cirque Noir will take place on Friday, October 27th at the Waveny Mansion. The 45th annual Easter Egg Hunt is on Saturday, March 24th, and our first ever Kentucky Derby party will be on Saturday, May 5th. The second annual Little Rams Fun Run will return in May.
In addition, we are excited to announce our partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the Town of New Canaan to host “Fall Into New Canaan” on Saturday, September 9th. We are proud to support and promote local businesses by promoting this shop local, give local day. Participating stores will donate a portion of their proceeds to our giving fund. Part of Fall Into New Canaan will be our first annual Scarecrow Competition. Families and local businesses can purchase a scarecrow kit that, once decorated, will line Elm Street as festive seasonal decor for all to enjoy.
What does the league support?
The YWL rotates our focus on three giving themes: Women, Children, and Community. We raised $120,000 in 2016-2017 and distributed those funds to 22 incredible organizations that help children in need. Our giving theme this year is Strong Women, Strong Communities. We are accepting grant applications until August 1st. Applications can be found on our website,ywlnewcanaan.org.
Now tell us something about what you all do that might surprise the average New Canaanite.
We have an extensive annual grant review process, in which a committee of 12 women spend over 500 hours vetting as many as 70 applications. This process includes scrutinizing applications and financial statements, making site visits, conducting interviews, and discussing the merits of each proposal in detail. In this way our donors can be assured that a rigorous process has been conducted for the funds that they have so generously contributed to our campaigns.