Last year, Galt resident Sonia Hassey attended a local business networking meeting where Real Men’s Club founder Frank Duwel talked about how his group of men were gathering together monthly and raising money for community organizations.
“I realized there was nothing like that for women in Galt, and we’re way more relational than men,” she said this week.
And so the idea of WIN was born in December 2012.
“It burst out of my own desire to have relationships,” Hassey said.
WIN — which stands for Women Inspired Network — meets weekly on Wednesdays to, well, inspire and network. They also hold monthly events not only for socialization, but for community outreach and to benefit local nonprofits.
WIN treasurer Barbara Greer, who has been part of the organization since its inception, said that when the group first formed, members were so excited to meet but didn’t have a spot, so she borrowed a conference room at the Chamber of Commerce. A handful of women gathered to auction off items they found in their homes and no longer wanted. The money went into a coffee can to be used in the future.
At its first official meeting, there were 50 attendees; since then, there has been no less than that and sometimes as many as 100, according to Hassey. Most participants are businesswomen, while others are just seeking a place to make new friends.
Greer, 33, joined because she wanted a way to give back to the community she loves. She has a background in real estate and has networked for years, but she was looking for further connections. She has since brought five friends into the group.
“You can put a lot of merit in the friendships we have made,” she said. “We’re building friendships and benefiting the community. It’s exciting being on the ground level. I feel so blessed to be part of it.”
Hassey, a hairdresser, has lived in Galt for 14 years but admits she didn’t know many people before founding WIN. After being inspired by Duwel, she started visiting other networking groups in the Sacramento area, but said they felt cold and uninviting.
“I wanted to build women up, make them feel valued,” she said. “People want to be involved and give back to their community.”
Today, for example, WIN will be at Herald Days sharing their mission with the public.
“I want to meet people and just get out there,” Hassey said.
The group meets at Viaggio Winery in Galt every second Friday for networking. “For some, it’s just a chance to get out and socialize,” Greer said.
Mayor Marylou Powers was the speaker at last Wednesday’s regular meeting. Hassey said Powers conveyed her mission for the city and also discussed South County Services, the Galt organization she oversees.
The group has hosted speakers on building business revenue, and held social gatherings — including Bunco earlier this summer at Brewster’s. More than $800 in proceeds from an auction at that event went to Galt’s Project Love, a homeless outreach organization.
Co-founder Donna Harcourt attended and was able to go home with the money, Hassey said.
Earlier this year, WIN participants also donated money toward keeping Galt Joint Union Elementary School District’s libraries open last school year.
On Sept. 26, they are holding a unique event modeling gently used jewelry and clothes. The items will be for sale and all proceeds will likely be donated to South County Services.
“It’s like a win-win for everyone,” Hassey said.
Greer agreed. “It’s a good fit for the community all around.”
For more information, contact Hassey at 209-329-1783. You can also follow the group on Facebook to learn about upcoming events.