The Women’s Center of Fayetteville usually operates behind the scenes. So much so, that a lot of people don’t even know about the facility.
    “We like the people that we serve to be the heroes,” said Stephanie Kennedy, the Women’s Center marketing director.
    That’s all well and good, but now this organization that, by its own calculations, has brought close to $100 million in federal money to this town in the past eight years, is feeling the pinch themselves. Long story short — a computer glitch (on someone else’s computer) is costing them $50,000. That’s half their budget and money that would have been put to use helping to better Fayetteville.
    The Women’s Center is a resource center for the entire community, not just women. It has been in town for over a decade, and in 2006-2007 alone it  worked one-on-one with 354 (business) clients; offered 83 workshops which had 473 participants; assisted 70 clients in applying for financing; assisted 16 clients in opening new businesses; and assisted 25 clients in expanding their businesses.
    Their largest program and the one that Kennedy believes makes the biggest impact on our community is the Women’s Business Center; and again, don’t let the name fool you — it says Women’s Business Center, but it serves everyone. Kennedy points out that there are a lot of places a person can go in Fayetteville for help starting a business.
    “Where I think we’re different is that one-on-one relationship factor that a lot of places don’t give you,” she said. “We don’t teach you how to write a business plan and send you on your way. When you come in to us we educate you through classes, we walk you through a business plan, financial plan, we make sure and go over it with a fine tooth comb so that if you need funding, if you  need loans before that business plan goes before the loan officer we know it’s going to pass.”
    The center has a number of programs designed to help those interested in starting a business, with programs ranging from loans to credit counseling and marketing. To offer the wide array of programs, the center obviously needs financing.
    {mosimage}And to help earn money to support these programs, the Women’s Center has opened a business of their own. The store front formerly known as Unruly, is now Downtown Décor. “The store is just part of what we are doing,” said Kennedy. “Downtown Décor is one avenue that we are trying to make ourselves self sufficient.” 
    The idea sprang up out of a “You know what this town needs...” conversation between the Women’s Center Executive Director Sylvia Gray and C.J. Malson.  “She (C.J.) had mentioned what Fayetteville was lacking was a very upscale resale consignment and home décor store — and not just furniture — not just lamps; we’re not talking knick knacks or anything like that,” said Kennedy
    “But a place where people who want nice furniture can go to and buy it and it looks very nice and looks new but not have to pay an arm and a leg for it.” 
    It’s been open since the end of May, and Malson is the manager and decorator for the store.     “You can go to any store and purchase furniture or home décor items and that money is going in their pockets,” said Kennedy.
    “If you come to Downtown Décor, the money that you’ve given to the store goes right back into the Women’s Center.” 
    The store operates as a non-pofit, so any donations to the facility are tax deductible. 


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