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Thanks: You Rock!

Editor’s Note:  Connecting dynamic local women for mutual inspiration and fun has been a goal since Wise Women started in April 2012.  When we decided is was time to plan our first event, I had no idea how much was involved, or how rewarding it would be.  Our time frame was a little ambitious but thanks to some amazing volunteers the evening was a great success despite some set backs – like our keynote speaker not being able to show at the last minute!  No fears.  Julie Ann Sullivan taught me a valuable lesson: a little levity goes a long way to relieving stress, and sometimes – actually often – things turn out exactly as they should be. 

Thank you to everyone for coming out and making the evening so enjoyable, not to mention raising over $1000 for DVSSP plus a van full of goods.  If you missed it, enjoy Fran Joyce’s recap below and plan on being there next year!   -Best Wishes for Peaceful Holidays, KEF

KEF with the very smart and funny Julie Ann Sullivan

On November 19, 2012, Wise Women E-Journal hosted its first fund raising event to benefit Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pittsburgh (DVSSP – formerly Washington Women’s Shelter). Tickets were $10.00 and we encouraged participants to bring donations of personal care items, women’s socks and underwear, and small children’s toys for the women and children at the Shelter.

I walked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Upper St. Clair that night armed with my donations for the Shelter. Kim Epp Frenette was in perpetual motion coordinating the volunteers and giving instructions to the hotel catering staff. Gift baskets for the raffle were being arranged on tables in the main room, and out in the foyer, vendors were setting up their wares.

I watched with excitement as our guests began to arrive. I greeted several of my friends, and we walked around checking out the food, raffle items, and vendors. I set my sights on one of the Wild Rosemary Bistro gift certificates, but fate was not with me that night.

Food and wine...always a good thing...

Kim welcomed everyone and thanked our sponsors, Sara Botkin,  financial planner with the Botkin Group at Morgan Stanley; Dottie Coll, owner of  Two Men and a Truck; Lynn Bellioti from Chuck’s Automotive Service in Upper St. Clair; Jackie Quimpo, owner of Clean Green Cleaning and Home Management, and Robin S. Levine Stoller, Esq.at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. These ladies and their companies graciously covered the cost  for refreshments and food for the evening, so the bulk of collections could go directly to DVSSP.

Kim spoke about creating Wise Women, “I wanted to focus on the positive things being done by women in the South Hills. By sharing our stories, we women share our wisdom. We get energized to pursue our goals and dreams, whatever they may be. We call our stories “possip,” positive gossip. We also feature a “Gotta Good Guide. Local businesses can advertise their services at a reduced rate, and we hope anyone looking for a service will eventually be able to find it here.”

When Kim took a moment to reflect on some of the women in the audience who had been featured in Wise Women, the evening took on special meaning for me. I looked around and saw Dr. Lillian Meyers, author and expert on grief counseling whom we featured in November. To my right was my good friend Debbie Colditz, a Zumba Instructor we featured last December, and Kathy Pattack ,the retired Mt. Lebanon gym teacher I interviewed this past summer about keeping active. Barb Moore was several rows back. So many incredible women who have graced our pages were seated together. I looked at Rosemary Di Marco who will be featured in our February issue, and I realized this is only the beginning for Wise Women.

Think they are having fun?

During a break, I trolled the gift baskets watching as my favorite baskets filled with tickets. I wish I could list them all here, but there were so many wonderful baskets filled with foods, spa products, jewelry, and gift certificates that listing them all would make my article resemble a Christmas list. The wait staff circulated with trays of delicious canapés and skewers of tender chicken. Wine, coffee, tea, and water flowed in equal proportions.  My friends and I stopped at every table finding some must have item at each one. In the center of the room, books lined an author’s table. I met Mary Frailey Calland, the author of Consecrated Dust, a story about the Civil War. Mary and I had an instant connection as authors and history buffs. Loaded with refreshments and shopping bags, we found our way back into the main room for the first speakers.

Julie Ann cracked us up...

Susan Wagner of Viola Interior Style spoke first. Susan presented a display of decorating items balancing old with new. I picked up some great tips for holiday decorating, and I was overjoyed to learn that the Owls on my  Dixie cups were part of a hot new design trend. Thank you Giant Eagle! I can now say one of the rooms in my house is decorated.

Next up, Lisa Hannum from Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania gave us a quiz about domestic violence and spoke about the recent name change for the organization. Domestic violence, we learned, is not about anger; it’s about control. Men are also victims of domestic abuse, but such abuse is rarely reported. This prompted the organization to change its name to be inclusive of all abused people. DVSSP provides emergency shelter, counseling, and rental assistance for up to a year to help men or women who have left abusive relationships get a fresh start. For ten minutes, Hannum gave everyone a reality check, citing facts and figures that left us shaking our heads in disbelief. I felt a little better about my own life and anxious for the night to be successful, so we could help some of the people in need.

Lisa Hannum of DVSSP is happy with the outcome.

At the next break, the wait staff cut the beautiful Wise Women cake, and I admit I indulged in a piece of chocolate cake from the Bethel Bakery.

After the break, Kim announced that Darius Chisolm our next speaker had been called to cover a breaking news story and would not be speaking tonight. Then, she introduced Julie Ann Sullivan. Sullivan is a certified laugh coach. She had us on our feet, interacting with each other, and laughing in no time. I can be a bit reserved at times, but Sullivan worked her magic on me, and I was soon doing my best belly laugh with reckless abandon.

After the raffle tickets were pulled and almost everyone – but me – went home with a basket, our night was over. The official tally for the evening came to around $1,000 in cash for DVSSP and enough donated items to fill a minivan. I met some wonderful people, found some new women to interview, and I got an early jump on my Christmas shopping. Most of all, I came away with a sense of pride and gratitude that I am fortunate enough to write for Wise Women and work with fantastic women like Kim Epp Frenette and Lisa Schenker. And guess what, we’re only getting started, wait until our next event!

2 Responses to Thanks: You Rock!

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  2. I’m marking my calendar now… can’t wait!

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