HANCOCK COUNTY — The new executive director of a county organization serving women in need hopes to expand services to help clients becoming financially independent.
Megan Langlais, named the new head of the Women’s Resource Center, a clearinghouse for local women’s services, wants to see the agency offer courses on money management; financial instability can lead some women to stay in harmful relationships, making it harder to break the cycle of abuse, she said, noting classes also could cover safe dating.
Langlais replaces board member Judy White, who served for a year as interim executive director after the departure of De’Von Kissick-Kelly, said Beth Ingle, chairman of the Women’s Resource Center board.
Langlais of Indianapolis wants to do more than provide temporary help in times of financial struggle; she wants to ensure women in need connect with educational opportunities or good-paying jobs to help them climb out of that financial hole forever, she said.
“A disproportionate amount of women are underpaid or living in poverty,” she said. “This includes women who are considered the ‘working poor,’ or women who make too much to qualify for help but who are not able to save money or make ends meet.”
The Women’s Resource Center, a single office housed at 312 Main St. in Greenfield, currently connects county women in need with resources including government assistance programs, family services and victim advocates. It served 90 people last year.
Center officials guide women through the process of applying for and connecting with those resources, then create an action plan to help them stick to those plans.
Langlais, who works about 25 hours a week as the center’s only employee, comes to the position bearing connections to other agencies serving women.
She currently serves as a coordinator for the Indianapolis-based Julian Center, which aids victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She also works with Project Home, an Indianapolis halfway house.
She has a bachelor’s degree in civic leadership from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
She plans to apply those skills as she works to expand the nonprofit’s funding — she’s already researching what grants the center may qualify for, she said. She hopes her position with the center could one day be full-time — offering more office hours in the center, which is currently open Mondays and Fridays with varying hours.
The Women’s Resource Center was created about five years ago with money from the Women’s Fund of Hancock County, which is overseen by the Hancock County Community foundation, said Sandy Miller, chair of the Women’s Fund committee. The center was created in part to keep women in need connected with a mentor, because members of the women’s fund board often helped to connect women to services but never saw them afterward — until they came back needing the same service, Miller said.
The community foundation this month is holding a drive to encourage county women to become members of the Women’s Fund of Hancock County, which funds the Women’s Resource Center and about 12 other organizations that serve women and families in Hancock County, said Hancock County Community Foundation president Mary Gibble. Anyone who donates once a year to the fund is considered a member.
The Women’s Resource Center operates mainly as a referral service, but it also seeks to keep in touch with clients to make sure they get the help they need, Langlais said.
“We want to connect them to anyone who can do better than we can,” she said. “However, we are also an open door, a safe space where women can find a path to the better place they want to be in.”
The Women’s Fund of Hancock County, which is managed by the Hancock County Community Foundation, unites women and girls through charitable giving to support women and their families.
Since its inception in 2007, the Women’s Fund of Hancock County has granted more than $123,000 to 13 organizations benefiting women and families.
This month, the community foundation is encouraging county residents to join a giving circle to support the fund.
Any woman age 16 and older may make an annual financial donation to become a member of the Women’s Fund. For more information, visit givehcgrowhc.org and click “donate online.”
The Hancock County Women’s Resource Center, 312 E. Main St., Greenfield, was established in 2014 to serve as a clearinghouse for local resources serving women.
The center offers a referral service to area agencies but also provides individual support and mentoring for women in need.
For more information, visit hcwrc.org.