7th Annual Luncheon – Women Helping Women

On April 19, 2018 over 600 guests attended the 7th Annual Women’s Luncheon that included a presentation that challenged the audience to dig deep to understand the needs of low-income women and girls and why they struggle to leave their environment to pursue post-secondary education.

Robin Wilhoit served as the Master of Ceremonies and reminded everyone of the Women’s Fund bold vision: “Every Woman Self-Sustaining,” and said, “just take a second to think about that. Can you image the transformation we will see in our communities when this happens? Today, so many have worked diligently to bring you exciting news that change is on its way and important work to break down barriers for low-income women and girls is a reality in East Tennessee.”

Luncheon Co-Chairs Diane Carter & Sharon Miller Pryse shared that thanks to the 600+ audience as well as the Luncheon Committee and volunteers for their hard work. They paid special tribute to the sponsors including The Haslam Family Foundation – Presenting Sponsor; Sandy & Hank Bertelkamp and Cindi DeBusk – Platinum Sponsors; JTV/GemStore – Therese Ann and Tim Mathews – Step & Repeat Sponsor; and Anonymous, Ann & Steve Bailey, Randy & Jenny Boyd, Clayton Homes, Home Federal Bank, Dell & Rodney Lawler, Pilot Flying J, Stowers Machinery, Nita & Rab Summers – Gold Sponsors; Dawn Ford, Emily Cox, Robin Gibson and Molly Joy – Network Sponsors; and Knoxville Beverage Company – Beverage Sponsors. The members of the Women’s Fund Society – Founders, Visionary, Legacy, Leadership and 365 were also recognized in the program and thanked as well. Natalie Hall, owner of Cachepot donated the beautiful flower arrangements.

Sharon Miller Pryse called on Mayor Rogero to help with a special Tribute to friend and former Board member, Betsey Bush who was an enthusiastic supporter of the Women’s Fund mission. Sharon gave a humorous and heartfelt tribute then and Mayor Rogero read her proclamation. (what was the proclamation)

Katharine Pearson Criss, Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Women’s Fund Network Building and Grant Making Committee shared news of the work taking place to develop the new 25 county network (related story attached), to provide access to education, with mentoring. After describing the process of discovery and vetting to secure the best grantees she then introduced the 2018 grantees who will form the new Network. Read more about the network and meet our grantees HERE.

Robin then introduced the guest speaker – Karen Spears Zacharias saying “I don’t think we could have anyone more appropriate to speak at a Women’s Fund event than someone who has lived in Appalachia and understands the needs and barriers that women and girls face in East Tennessee”. She shared that Ms. Zacharias has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and The Huffington Post. Karen has authored numerous books including the memoir AFTER THE FLAG HAS BEEN FOLDED (HarperCollins) on sale at the event with proceeds benefitting the Women’s Fund, and a series of novels set in the Appalachian community of Christian Bend, Tennessee. She is currently serving as West Virginia’s 2018 Appalachian Heritage Writer of the Year.

Speaker, Karen Spears Zacharias was inspiring as she spoke from real life experience sharing how hard it was for her mother to provide during a time when women and girls were not encouraged to seek education and denied the opportunity to grow outside the home. Karen said, “My hope is that after hearing what the Women’s Fund is doing through the new Network Building and Grant Making, and —- my life’s journey and work, you will see how important is to join with the Women’s Fund’s collective philanthropic community of givers. She said she wished a Women’s Fund had been available when she was young, and her mother was in need.

Mark your calendar for April 25, 2019 for the 8th Annual Women’s Fund Luncheon.

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