Research has shown that women benefit significantly when they collaborate with one another rather than compete, and everyone wins when women of all ages and a variety of backgrounds are lifted up and celebrated.
Members of Women2Women, a program sponsored by the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, and REACH, an affiliate of the Pottstown-based TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, can confirm that research is accurate.
“No matter where you are in your professional or personal life, there’s always an opportunity to reach out to someone else,” said Eileen Dautrich, president of TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, which supports businesses in western Montgomery, northern Chester and eastern Berks counties. “We’ve seen women flourish when they get involved and are supported by other women.”
Rachael Romig, senior director of events and special programs for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, said that while the mission of Women2Women is to develop women leaders in Berks County, leadership can be construed in many ways.
“Leadership could mean a lot of things to a lot of people,” Romig said. “It could mean climbing the corporate ladder or being an effective leader of the PTA or developing confidence as a stay-at-home mom. We want to support all those groups of women because when someone succeeds, we all benefit.”
REACH and Women2Women offer various programming throughout the year, including networking opportunities, educational events, talks by notable women, personal development events and conferences.
Women2Women last week sponsored an “Evening of Empowerment” featuring Liz Murray, an author and inspirational speaker who was accepted to Harvard University after experiencing homelessness as a teenager.
REACH will hold its third annual conference on Nov. 9, featuring Rachel DeAlto, author of “How to Connect with Anyone (Even if it Scares You),” as the keynote speaker.
A variety of programming enables women to pursue interests, learn from others, gain inspiration, make connections and build relationships.
Kristi Bonanno, a business education teacher and internship coordinator at Gov. Mifflin High School on Berks County, is passionate about bringing people together. As a Women2Women council volunteer, she’s found the organization provides an ideal venue for doing just that.
“Rachael (Romig) urged me to invite some of my students to a networking event, and I did,” Bonanno said. “They were nervous about going, but they ended up having a great time and loving it. It was an empowering experience for them.”
Bonanno also was able to connect some English language learner students with members of De Mujer a Mujer/Women2Women, the chamber’s Latina initiative. Students were able to attend events and get to know some members of the group.
“Meeting successful, Latina women in our community was really motivating to them,” Bonanno said. “They gained a lot of confidence through those experiences.”
Several of those students have since taken on leadership roles at school, working to establish an in-school coffee shop and a care area for students struggling with housing or food security issues.
Sharon Deloughery-Nihart, owner of Nihart Photography in West Pottsgrove, Montgomery county, thought about joining the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce when she was getting her business up and running several years ago, but was intimidated by the idea of a chamber of commerce.
“It seemed like the chamber would be all business, and I didn’t know if I would fit in,” she recalled. “But I found out about REACH and liked the idea of meeting women whose situations were similar to mine. It felt like it was a good avenue for me to connect.”
Since getting involved with REACH, Deloughery-Nihart has joined the TriCounty Area Chamber and is an active participant.
“REACH was the stepping stone I needed for that to happen,” she said.
Regardless of why women might join a group such as Women2Women or REACH, doing so provides a supportive atmosphere where they can seek advice and share their concerns, said Dautrich.
“At the end of the day, an organization like ours is all about creating relationships,” she said. “That’s really important for women.”
For information about the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce’s REACH program visit https://www.tricountyareachamber.com/annual-events—networking/women-of-the-workforce/.
For information about the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s Women2Women program visit https://www.berkswomen2women.com/.
Source: Berkshire mont