Four of The Empowerment Challenge co-founders Michelle Polidano, Shannon Graham, Karen Brown and Merrin Wake (missing Donna Kennedy). Photo: MICHAEL CHAMERS

Power of five to launch women’s charity

September 5, 2019 BY

Five likeminded locals have united to establish a proactive charity for women under 25 who have at least one child or are pregnant.

The Empowerment Challenge, founded by Shannon Graham, Karen Brown, Michelle Polidano, Merrin Wake and Donna Kennedy, will offer youth specific services to women in the greater Geelong region who may be struggling in new motherhood.

Chair and co-founder Shannon Graham said the project has been in the works for two years.

“All of us had the passion for it and could see the need for it but perhaps didn’t have the experience of setting up a charity,” Shannon said.

“We can see how much it’s needed and that’s kept us on track and driven the whole time.”
Shannon, who’s served the community as a nurse for about 25 years, said her work in the health sector inspired her to address a “gap in the market”.

“I’ve always had that passion for helping people. There are some great services in Geelong, but a lot of them have limits,” she said.

“We saw that they (women under 25) needed something ongoing that they can continue to connect with because it does take time to break through those barriers and gain their trust.”

The Ocean Grove mother of three said barriers included generational poverty and domestic abuse. She also said women who have been in the system and haven’t received adequate care can find it difficult to trust.

The Empowerment Challenge hopes to construct a hub in a low-socio economic area such as Norlane where women can access counselling services through to online courses in a safe and inclusive environment.

The charity will launch at The Pier Geelong on Thursday October 17. Guest speakers include Jules Allen and Lynda Mori. Television personality Nicky Buckley will MC the event.

Early bird tickets are $65 and available until September 30. After October 1, tickets will be $75. Tickets and more information available at empowermentchallenge.org.au.

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