In a society where we women have come so far and made so many strides, we still have a long way to go. This is why it's so crucial that we have charities and organizations which aim to educate and empower women. We spoke with Cathy Pierorazio (who, pssst, is our CEO's aunt!) about the Women's Rights Information Center in New Jersey, where she is a board member. She's working hard to spread the mission of the Women's Center and make the world a better place for women.
How did you get into the non-profit space? Is The Women's Rights Information Center the first non-profit you've been involved with?
My mom taught me from a very young age that giving was far better than receiving. When I was very young I remember seeing a commercial for an organization called Save The Children. I asked my mom if I could sponsor one of the children. We sent in the paperwork and a few weeks later I received a letter from Diyon, a boy from Sri Lanka. I don’t even remember how much money she was sending each month, but I corresponded with him until I left for college. My mom was incredibly generous and giving. Both of my brothers are as well. So I guess you learn by example.
The Women’s Right’s Information Center is not my first experience with non-profits. The non-profit space is not something I imagined myself “doing”. I think a lot of people end up involved in these organizations because of personal reasons. About 12 years ago I became involved with FARE, an organization that helps raise awareness for research and education for the 15 million Americans who suffer from life threatening food allergies. My oldest son is one of those 15 million people. I worked for a short time with the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer on September 11, 2001. Being involved in these organizations helped me in my personal journey. I’m grateful to have been involved in these organizations.
What made you want to be involved with a woman-focused non-profit specifically?
I really didn't seek out the Women’s Center. My very good friend, Susan Del Rio, has been chairing their gala for over a decade. She asked me if I would like to help with the event, as it was growing every year. I took a tour of the center and never looked back. That was 7 years ago. I was raised less than a mile from the center and never even knew it was there. I started out slowly, helping co-chair the annual gala, and eventually was asked to join the Board. I’m grateful to be part of this amazing community. I have been witness to so many success stories that have emerged from women receiving services here. Everybody deserves a chance at a better life. WRIC is there to respond to whatever your needs are.
What advice do you have for people who want to get involved with the charity?
Walk through the front door. Meet our Executive Director, Lil Corcoran. Tour the fantastic building where all the magic happens. Come to our events! We have events all year long. Reach out to me anytime!
Which is your favorite service or program that you guys offer?
All of our programs are equally important and relevant to serving someone’s needs. We are trying to create a pathway to self-sufficiency and happiness. Giving women building blocks to create a substantial life for themselves requires many different tools. For some that means learning the English language, for someone else it may mean getting a certification in Microsoft Office, and for another it could be finding a safe home. Whatever situation you are in, we are here to advocate for you, to guide you, and erase the barriers that are holding you back from advancement. Our services include Career Counseling, Microsoft Office Training/Certification, ESL/Citizenship Classes, Legal Consultations, Shared Housing, Workshops, and Book Clubs. You can show up at our door and be seen by a counselor at any time during office hours (no appointment necessary).
What's been your biggest accomplishment with the organization?
Fundraising period. Joining the Board of Trustees and Co-Chairing the Event has been very rewarding. Our annual Gala is themed “Celebrating Community Change Makers”. The Gala raises critical funds to sustain the programs we offer and advance our mission. While we've made such incredible progress in women's rights and equality, we still have a long way to go. This year our Gala is on May 8th at Morton’s in Hackensack, NJ. Visit this page for more information about the event.
I hear you're amazing at public speaking. What tips do you have for people who are terrified of public speaking?
That’s actually pretty funny considering the only class I ever failed was Public Speaking/Speech Writing. I guess with age you gain confidence and when you're talking about something that you are passionate about, or someone you love, it comes easier. As far as tips...Just breathe, find a point of focus, and be prepared.
Check out the Women's Center site HERE.