April 2023 Newsletter

2023 TPWF Grant Awardees CHOICE Unlimited and First Witness Child Advocacy Center

The Twin Ports Women’s Foundation is pleased to award the 2023 grants to CHOICE Unlimited and the First Witness Child Advocacy Center. Each organization will be awarded $6,556.

CHOICE serves over 100 people in the local community who have a disability. Through the support of CHOICE, people who often fall through the cracks in other program services have an opportunity to receive support, bring home a paycheck, display and sell their artwork, participate in an award-winning theatre program and attend com- munity centers and fitness programs – in short, to lead a normal life. CHOICE employs about 100 staff and assists about 35 different employers secure their staffing needs by employing a person served through the CHOICE pro-gram.

The Twin Ports Women’s Foundation member who nomi- nated CHOICE to allow them to be awarded grant monies to use towards their creative discretion and to help them esta-blish further name recognition and program aware- ness within the Twin Ports Women’s Foundation.

CHOICE plans to use their grant to enhance their Health and Wellness program for the people they serve. Receiving the grant award will significantly increase their ability to offer unique classes and activities to help people improve their physical, mental, spiritual and nutritional health. CHOICE will be able to expand the number of class offer- ings from three to five days a week. Funds will help cover instructor wages and class supplies such as groceries for nutrition classes and yoga mats for stretching and relaxa- tion classes.

First Witness Child Advocacy Center is a child-focused agency, offering hope, healing and justice for alleged victims of child abuse and their families. First Witness provides forensically sound interviews for children, ado- lescents and vulnerable adults who have reported sexual abuse, physical abuse, witness violence or who may have been otherwise victimized. The interviews provide a safe and comfortable space for victims to talk about their abuse in one video recorded interview by a trained professional. The report of abuse is not the end but rather the begin-ning. Family advocates help parents under- stand the system and professionals involved connect children and families to resources in the community. It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the United States have experienced sexual abuse. Of these cases, over 90% are perpetrated by someone known and trusted to the child and family. It is important to note that most child sexual assault cases are under-reported and not disclosed until adulthood. First Witness is planning to move their program to a new location, and it is projected that the number of people served will significantly increase at the new location.

The Twin Ports Women’s Foundation member who nomi- nated First Witness has been familiar with First Witness since its beginning approximately 30 years ago. Unfor- tunately, the need for services for abused children has not diminished and the program has a need for increased space. A grant from the Twin Ports Women’s Foundation would help with this next step for First Witness.

First Witness does have a new facility that the program will move to. The program is in the process of raising funds to create the appropriate spaces needed. The grant from the Twin Ports Women’s Foundation will help to furnish their new Advocacy Resource Center. The Center will offer space to the non-offending caregiver to meet with an advocate and review paperwork and questions the caregiver may have. This space will eliminate the need to meet in public places. In the past, program advocates have meet with caregivers in places such as coffee shops or meeting rooms in the courthouse as the old building does not have the room for a meeting space such as this.

2023 marks the 4th grant cycle for the Twin Ports Women’s Foundation. Twenty-six women contributed to the Foundation in 2022, allowing the Foundation to provide over $13,000 to this year’s awardees.

A summary of all Twin Ports Women’s Foundation grant awardees is as follows:

  • 2020 – Duluth Area Family YMCA and Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center
  • 2021 – American Indian Community Housing Organization and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank
  • 2022 – Union Gospel Mission and the Bob Tavani House for Medical Respite
  • 2023 –  CHOICE Unlimited and First Witness Child Advocacy Center

The total amount that the Twin Ports Women’s Foundation has contributed to the local community over the past four years is greater than $55,000. This could not have happened without the members who believe in women in philanthropy and collective giving!Choice, Unlimited. Opening doors to employment and opportunities

Member Spotlight – Dana Varland

Dana Varland
Why did you join the Twin Ports Women’s Foundation?
When I first heard about the Twin Ports Women’s Foundation, my first thought was how cool would it be to be part of a group of empowered women who can make a difference collectively with their financial resources! I think it is really unique that we can personally nominate non-profit organiza- tions to receive the awards. Further, being a part of this group is easy — there is minimal time commitment and it feels so good to give back.

What are your thoughts about collective giving and/or women in philanthropy?
I value the concept of collective giving. I envision it like an ever-expanding circle that builds up those who give and those who benefit — it builds community.



Lyric Kitchen & Bar on Superior Street
JOIN US for the 2023 TPWF Grant Award Celebration on MONDAY, MAY 15th. This event is a great opportunity for our members to socialize with one another, learn more about the selected grant awardees, and formally recognize CHOICE Unlimited and First Witness Child Advocacy Center.

  • WHEN: Monday, May 15th 5:00-7:00 PM
  • WHERE: Lyric Kitchen Bar
    205 West Superior Street

Dottie Rottier

Continuing to stay connected to our community

I learned of the Twin Ports Women Foundation through my friend who has been a member for about three years. The concept of women combining resources and effort t support a community need struck me as worthwhile and meaningful. For me, personally knowing a member endorsed the Foundation as a trustworthy organization.

In the past, I have both worked and lived in Duluth but have now chosen to live elsewhere. I enjoy visiting the Duluth area and selected this Foundation as a way to further support the community. I like knowing nearly my entire contribution will help serve a need that has been well vetted and determined as most worthy.

Highlighting Board Member:

Robin Brown

Robin BrownI first read about Twin Ports Women’s Foundation (TPWF) in a local newspaper where the words – inclusive, collective giving and women – were all used in the article. It caught my attention. I had to look further into this organization and did so through their website and Facebook page. At the time TPWF was in their first year, promoting their organization and recruiting members. And at the time, I was downsizing my career and exploring my drive to ‘give back’ in a meaningful and impactful way. The more I read about TPWF’s mission, the more I began to feel a connection. My $500 donation was important to me, I wanted it to make a difference – a bigger difference than its monetary value. Joining TPWF provided that solution. Collective giving amongst women sharing similar values offered me the opportunity to serve my community with greater strength, stronger purpose and more efficiency. Throughout my tenure as at TPWF member, I have had privilege to be part of the selection process and contribute sizable grant monies to six different local non-profits. My annual contribution had an impact 20X its value for organizations in need that I feel fortunate to have as part of my community.

In the second year of my membership, there was an opening as a Board Member. After some pondering, I took the leap to pursue further involvement in this organization that had me feeling so satisfied and proud. I was honored with the Board’s acceptance of my application and even more so when I was invited to serve on the Board. The success of a sincere mission and powerful purpose comes only with a dedicated and committed team. TPWF Board has just that. It has been impressive to watch and an honor to be a part of a volunteer Board that maneuvers through changing times, recruits and retains members, and coordinates a seamless application and distribution process.

Inclusive, collective giving and women – I continue to go back to those words as driving my interest and commitment to the TPWF cause. I’m interested in hearing what drives you towards ‘giving back’ and discussing the Foundation’s position with any of you who may have interest. Collective giving is not a method that fills everyone’s cup, this is fully understood. For those that may be in a similar position as I was, totally clueless – exploring TPWF as an option to contribute towards collective giving may bring you far more value than you would have ever imagined!

Our board


Chair: Denise Bussa
Treasurer: Lynda John
Secretary & Grants: Julie Zaruba Fountaine
Board Members: Robin Brown
Lynnea Emerson
Michelle Siljendahl
Laura Weintraub
Denise Bussa

Denise Bussa

Lynda John

Lynda John

Julie Zaruba Fountaine

Julie Zaruba Fountaine