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July 31, 2014

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Members of the transitional board who helped merge the Appalachian Women's fund and the High Country Women's Fund into the newly formed Women's Fund of the Blue Ridge. Photo submitted

Originally published: 2014-07-11 10:16:50
Last modified: 2014-07-11 10:17:33

Women's fund raises $111,000 at inaugurual luncheon

Staff Reports

As the weather is warming up and the roses are starting to bloom, June is a perfect time for all things new. The first large event of the newly formed Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge brought an atmosphere of newness, unity, and the smell of roses.

With nearly 300 attendees and volunteers, the inaugural luncheon for the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge was held on Thursday, June 26th at the Linville Ridge County Club. The event included a catered lunch, silent and live auction, speakers, and a special performance by local singer Maureen Renihan.

During her passionate, storytelling speech at the luncheon, Executive Director Karen Sabo stated, “Everything may be coming up roses for you and I, but that is not the case for other women and girls.  It is up to us to ensure other females here in our community have the resources needed to become empowered and reach their full potential.”

After unanimous votes from the boards of the Appalachian Women’s Fund and the High Country Women’s Fund, the organizations combined their missions, efforts, and membership, resulting in a new larger and stronger philanthropic group.  The inaugural luncheon was the first of many events to be held.

Proceeds totaling $111,028 from this luncheon will support the Fund’s fall grant cycle.  The two former funds have supported non-profits such as the Western Youth Network, OASIS, Mountain Alliance, Hospitality House, Children’s Council, and the New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College. 

Major sponsors of the luncheon included Westglow Spa, the Ethel and W. George Kennedy Family Foundation, Mast General Store, and the Albert Jay Martin Foundation.  Many other businesses and personal sponsorships received by the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge assisted in success of the luncheon and upcoming grant cycle.

According to WFBR board president Kay McCloskey, “Diamond Sponsors” Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer have donated $25,000, as has Kathleen Kennedy Olsen, since the merger of the two organizations.

The Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge will continue to sponsor and participate in events such as the Power of the Purse Mother’s Day Shoppe, and the Back-To-School Festival, but its largest event of the year will remain the annual luncheon.

For more information about making a donation, becoming a member, participating in upcoming events, or general questions, contact Karen Sabo, Executive Director, at 828-264-4002, or email (   We also welcome you to visit our website and like us on Facebook.


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