Take 5 with Lisa Guyon, Executive Director of WE CAN

April 2, 2021

What is the name of your organization? What services does it provide?

WE CAN empowers Cape Cod women by providing unique services that inspire hope and bring increased stability, self-sufficiency, and opportunity to their lives. WE CAN annually serves more than 2,500 women across Cape Cod with free and confidential legal services, employment and business support, financial empowerment, mentoring, and personal development programs. More than 75% of our participants access more than one of WE CAN’s services.

With a small staff, we could not accomplish our work without the commitment and dedication of 300 active volunteers, including attorneys, employment specialists, financial professionals, mentors, and committee and office volunteers.

When and why did you start your organization?

WE CAN was founded in 2001 as a community-based organization after a program called Women in Transition at Cape Cod Community College ended. The founding effort to help women navigate challenging transitions in their lives and find stability and self-sufficiency has continued and strengthened through the last two decades.

Do you have any suggestions for people considering starting a nonprofit organization?

There is so much power to the idea of channeling a belief in helping people or solving a problem that impacts the lives of others, but starting and sustaining a non-profit organization can be difficult. I would suggest to anyone considering it to spend ample time looking at the landscape of existing non-profit organizations in the community as likely partners to collaborate with, and have those discussions before diving in fully to launching a new organization.

Has the way you operate your organization changed due to COVID? Have you done anything to “pivot” temporarily?

Absolutely! Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, every service we offered and provided was conducted in person. We moved fast in the face of the unknown last March and developed virtual platforms for program delivery, supported volunteers to continue to provide services via Zoom or phones, and moved our staff to a remote work model. We didn’t miss a beat, and we continued our services without interruption. Moving ahead, our work will look different, offering a hybrid model of virtual and in-person services that will actually allow us to expand our geographic reach and reduce barriers to women who need access to our services.

Why do you use a payroll service, and why a local one?

We moved to online payroll services about 15 months ago, and it was a great decision! Our staff has direct access to all of their payroll info at the touch of a button, and it is much easier to administer from a management and fiscal oversight perspective. At WE CAN, we try to keep our spending and partnerships local.  BizChecks came highly recommended by many local nonprofits and businesses, and it was an easy decision because of their incredible customer service. We are grateful to work closely with Larry, Dan, Susan and Leah, and we know they are always looking out for WE CAN and our employees.