The Most Influential Women luncheon can be summarized in a number of ways.
What’s the highlight? Well, it could be hearing the stories of the 20 honorees and how they are benefiting the community. It could be seeing all the past honorees, almost 40 in attendance, standing in front of the stage because “once an influential woman, always an influential woman.” I certainly enjoyed seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. The food was delicious, the company was wonderful and the atmosphere at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center was elegant.
But I think the true highlight of the event came afterward when officials calculated the total funds raised for Women in Need of the Ozarks – MIW’s charity partner.
Between honoree’s individual fundraising, money collected at tables and the event’s silent auction, the event brought in $19,894 for WIN. Breaking down that number, there was $10,161 gathered by honorees; $7,115 from the silent auction; $1,856 collected at event tables; and $762 from raffles. Oasis Hotel & Convention Center General Manager Missy Handyside collected $3,000, the most among MIW honorees.
That’s nearly $20,000 that will go toward helping working women who need a hand up. The funds will help them with house payments, utility bills, car payments, medical costs, repairs and more, according to the nonprofit’s website.
During the lunch, we heard a story about one woman who was assisted by WIN. Her husband had recently gone to jail, and she was struggling to pay the mortgage and provide for her children. She lost a higher-paying job and was barely making ends meet.
Her mortgage was due soon, and she knew she would not be able to pay it. She was referred by a friend to WIN, which helped her make the payment. By that act of generosity, this woman was able to survive a very difficult time, and she now has a stable job and is doing well.
What is so impactful about having this type of fundraiser at this event is that we see women helping other women in action. Truly, it was an inspiring display and terrific example of how we should have each other’s backs.
So, I guess the best way to summarize the 2017 MIW event is this quote by author Mariela Dabbah:
“Lead by example. Support women on their way to the top. Trust that they will extend a hand to those who follow.”
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