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July 29, 2014

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Karen Sabo, the new executive director of the Women's Fund of the High Country, gives the opening address at the inaugural luncheon and silent auction at the Linville Ridge Country Club. Photo by Jeff Eason

Originally published: 2014-07-03 12:13:50
Last modified: 2014-07-03 12:14:33

United we stand

By Jeff Eason

The newly formed Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge got off to a roaring start with its inaugural fundraising luncheon event at Linville Ridge Country Club on June 26.

The event attracted 272 women for lunch and a silent auction to raise money for nonprofits in a seven-county area that help women, girls and their children in a seven-county region of Western North Carolina.

The silent auction featured more than 200 items, including original art, gift baskets, dining certificates and lodging packages, that were donated by more than 150 individuals and businesses.

At presstime, the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge had not determined how much money had been raised by the luncheon and silent auction.

The Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge Fund is the result of a merger of the two former groups — the Appalachian Women’s Fund and the High Country Women’s Fund —  that took place earlier this year.

The list of agencies that have benefited from the two organizations, and will continue to receive grant money from the newly formed WFBR, includes the Children’s Council, the Children’s Playhouse, Community Care Clinic, Mountain Alliance, Hospitality House, New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College, OASIS Inc. (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter), WAMY Community Action Inc., Basic Buckets for New Beginnings,  the Western Youth Network, A Safe Have for Everyone, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success, among others.

At the luncheon, many thanks were given to the women who worked on the transitional board during the past year to help make the merger work smoothly and to iron out the many details involved.

Those included Grace Will, Kay McCloskey, Billie Howell, Elena Romagni, Debbie Stevens, Judy Goodwin-Rosenberg, Mary Hutchens, Jan Reinerth, Kathleen Kennedy Olsen, Rebecca Saunders, Kathy Crutchfield, Emily Stallings, Marion Edwards, Judy Painter, Barbara Aycock, Cathy Williamson, Jessica Powell, Gillian Baker, Pinky Hayden, Christina Howe, Jane Lentz, Alice Salthouse, Patti Turner and Jan Winkler.

Karen Sabo serves as the executive director of the new organization. Formerly, Sabo was the director for the New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College.

In her introduction, it was noted that Sabo was born under the astrological sign of Taurus the bull.

“Taureans are supposed to be stubborn,” Sabo said. “Those of you who know me know that I pride myself in being easy to get along with, but I am stubborn in one way. I tend not to listen when someone tells me something cannot be done.

“I do not listen when people tell me that things just are the way they are, and there’s no sense trying to change them. But I do want to change them.

“If we are here, it means we have had some pretty good fortune in our lives. We are sharing something very special in this room, right now, and that is that we want to share our good fortune with women and girls in our community who have not been so lucky.”

At the end of the presentation, Kathleen Kennedy Olsen presented WFBR with a check for $20,000 and Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer presented the organization with a check for $5,000 to get the WFBR fundraising drive for 2014-2015 started.

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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