Girls Inc. has created a fund for members to honor late board member Margaret Britton, in partnership with the local chapter of the American Association of University Women.
Britton served many years on the Girls Inc. board and also encouraged participation in the AAUW, an organization she served locally, statewide and nationally for over 50 years.
“Since the early 1960s she made her presence known in this community as a consistent, tenacious and forceful voice for women,” Girls Inc. CEO Tish Correa Osborne said in 2014 when Britton was the ATHENA award recipient. “When she saw barriers, she would speak up, she would act. She did not take the easy road, and she made a difference.”
The establishment of the fund came from AAUW members, who wanted to honor Britton along with her connection and work through the lives of the girls served at Girls Inc.
“She wholeheartedly dedicated herself to the rights of girls and women and paid particular attention to ensuring women from across all social classes or circumstances were included in her efforts,” Correa Osborne said. “She found ways to bring organizations together that were like-minded to help fuel opportunities for girls and women.”
Correa Osborne said that many of the organization’s girls and their families encounter obstacles that prevent them from actively continuing their post-secondary education, and that this fund will allow them to request funding to reduce those obstacles — from car repairs that are necessary for transportation to attend school to paying for required supplies for their education, including books and computers.
“Where some of us could just write a personal check or ask a parent to cover for us, not everyone has those resources,” Correa Osborne said. “Not having resources does not make anyone less worthy of continuing their education. It really shows how important it is for them to do so if they are going to be able to change their life trajectory.”
Britton was a professor at Kentucky Wesleyan College, along with her husband Joe. While there, she worked to break down the traditional barriers and discrimination that many female students faced in the college housing rules and social requirements.
“She was a leader in fighting to establish on-campus daycare services despite huge opposition,” Correa Osborne said in 2014. “She was the force behind an informal women’s center at the college, a place serving mainly non-traditional women students.”
Britton was active in numerous community organizations and her commitment to women’s causes was always at the forefront. She was one of the founders of OASIS, a local shelter and domestic violence program and substance abuse treatment provider for battered women and their children.
“She would be immensely proud of this recognition, but, more importantly, she would say, ‘Good, now let’s put the focus on the fund and what it will do for girls and young women,’” her husband Joe said.
Her granddaughter, the Rev. Dr. Jessica Patchett, said that she is excited about the fund established for her “Gran.”
“It honors her incredible work to pave the way for women and girls, including me, to thrive in a world that systematically limits their voice, contributions and opportunities. I know the challenges well, but I also know how well resourced I am to meet them,” she said in her Facebook post sharing details about the fund.
Friday kicked off the drive to establish this resource fund with a drive-by donation collection, but the drive continues.
“It is an emergency resource fund, not a scholarship in the sense that most know it,” Correa Osborne said. “Funds received will be restricted for this use only and as funds run out, additional funding campaigns may be run in the future.”
To apply, applicants complete a form, created by AAUW members, that will be used to determine need.
Anyone interested in contributing to the fund can go here, or checks can be made payable to Girls Inc. and sent via mail or dropped off at 2130G E. 19th St.
“We are so honored to be able to be put in a position with community donations, to allow us to help remove those obstacles with this emergency resource fund,” Correa Osborne said. “At Girls Inc. and everywhere it is clear, that even though some may not have known her or even heard of her, and with her passing years ago, many will never have had the privilege to meet her. But all can know that her work assured women’s paths have been easier and women’s lives are better because of her.”
Marlys Mason, Owensboro Times