Anne’s Haven in Portage Park needs help raising funds for their female workforce development program

PORTAGE PARK — A far northwest nonprofit for self-identifying women hopes to start a workforce development program — if it can get enough financial help.

Anne’s Paradise, 5629 W. Irving Park Road, offers wellness, professional and personal development programs for women looking to build their skills and network. It opened in 2016 and became a nonprofit in 2020.

In the past year, the nonprofit received two city grants to launch a workforce education program for women looking to start a career, learn skills and find solid employment, said founder Janet Giangrasse.

But the grants were not enough to cover the expenses of the program. Anne’s Haven needs more financial help to create the program, which will be her first nonprofit and the first since the pandemic hit. The organization raises money through a GoFundMe Fundraising which started in 2020. It has raised over $4,900 and has a goal of $15,000.

The six-month program will provide job training, resume building and opportunities for women, Giangrasse said. The program is open to everyone, but is aimed at low-income Latina women, whom the nonprofit primarily serves.

“When we became a 501(c)3, there was no place like Anne’s, so we had to [apply] for different grants because people didn’t understand what we were offering,” Giangrasse said.

Giangrasse said the money raised will also be used to develop other programs at Anne’s Haven, including those focused on social groups for community elders, women’s welfare, youth leadership, and support for mothers who have lost children to gun violence.

Credit: Julie Egeland
A list of events hangs on the door of Anne’s Haven, 5629 W. Irving Park Road, April 5, 2022.

The programs are led by community leaders and stem from a desire to support other women and create a strong network of talent and skills transfer, Giangrasse said.

“It’s the women who say, ‘I need this and I want to do this,'” Giangrasse said.

Giangrasse opened the event space and program incubator as an ode to her mother, Anne McNicholas-Giangrasse, who envisioned a barrier-free life for women and a hub for collaboration and connection.

Before the pandemic, Anne’s Haven regularly held private events, workshops, support groups and classes that attracted women from everywhere. The organization also hosted toy readersclothing swaps and benefit concerts, and it has partnered with nearby local nonprofits, businesses, and artists.

Since becoming a nonprofit, the organization has struggled to get donations for its programs, and the pandemic has put a damper on revenue without in-person events. But as the space returns to normal, Giangrasse hopes to attract people and create programs that can benefit the entire community.

“It’s important for women to know we’re here,” she said. “Not only that they bring what they want, but to see what other women are coming up with…to let them know that we have women in Chicago who are amazing and have amazing things to offer. to each other.”

Credit: Julie Egeland
Anne’s Haven, 5629 W. Irving Park Road, started in 2016 and is a tribute to the founder’s mother, Anne McNicholas-Giangrasse.

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