Purse Power: Women helping women
At the beginning of the HCWF Power of the Purse annual Luncheon and Silent Auction June 7 at the Blowing Rock Country Club, 2013 HCWF Chairwoman Grace Will announced to the audience that the organization had raised $445,000 prior to the event.
Approximately 230 people, mostly women, attended the luncheon and bid on more than 200 silent auction items, including jewelry, purses, gift certificates to area restaurants, wine and gift baskets. The items were donated by area businesses and individuals.
“Our theme for this year was ‘Hats Off’ to celebrate the women, local businesses and corporate sponsors in our community who make this event a continued success for us,” Will said.
“With their help and generosity, we are striving to reach over $500,000 in allocations this year to fund multiple agencies and programs throughout Watauga and Avery counties. Half a million dollars since our inception in 2006 is truly a significant figure. We are women helping women, one woman at a time.”
The High Country Women’s Fund, an initiative of the High Country United Way, was founded in May 2006 with the mission of changing the lives of women in need in Avery and Watauga counties. It raises money and distributes all of it to agencies such as OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Information and Shelter), Hospitality House, the Western Youth Network, the New Opportunities School for Women, Watauga County Assistance Network, Daymark Recovery Services and the Children’s Playhouse, among others.
In 2012, HCWF allocated $67,491 to local community agencies for women and children in need.
“We look forward to breaking the half million mark,” Will said. “For this year’s silent auction we have broken all previous records. More than 107 individuals and businesses donated gift baskets. And 81 others donated purses, jewelry and bottles of wine.”
A raffle was held at the luncheon with the winner receiving 100 bottles of various kinds of wine.
After the luncheon, a number of women were recognized for their work with HCWF, its partner agencies, and putting on the annual luncheon and silent auction. They included Mary Reichel of the High Country United Way, Sandi May Sisson, Rebecca Moore and Event Chairwoman Elena Romagni.
“We want to recognize Westglow and owners Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer as our largest financial supporters,” Will said.
The HCWF’s Founding Mothers Award for 2012-13 went to Jenny Miller, Mary Jo Rupp, Tricia Wilson, Pinky Hayden Carpenter and Kim Kincaid.
The guest speakers at the event were Melissa Selby of the Community Care Clinic and Karen Sabo, director of the New Opportunities School for Women.
“Through funding for the Community Care Clinic, we have started the Making Smiles Program with Dr. Steven Airey and his staff,” Selby said. “Fifty-nine local women received dental care through Dr. Airey’s practice last year amounting to $20,000 worth of dental care for these patients.”
“These funds allow us to offer a three-week instructional makeover for low income middle-aged women each summer at Lees-McRae College,” she said.
Shelby Moore, a rising junior at Caldwell Early College in Lenoir performed for the luncheon, singing “Oh Atlanta” and “Wayfaring Stranger.” Her grandfather, Cecil Palmer, and uncle, Brent Palmer, accompanied her on guitars.
“I am proud to be a part of the High Country Women’s Fund and cannot believe how amazing all the women are, they have truly made me a better person,” Romagni said.