April 9, 2015
Lila got tears in her eyes as she glanced around the ballroom of the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, which was filled to capacity for the YWCA Central Alabama’s 16thAnnual Purse & Passion Luncheon. “This is amazing,” she said. “I can’t believe there are so many people who care.”
More than 1,400 women and men from all over the region attended the luncheon on April 9 and opened their purses and wallets to support the women, children and families served by the YWCA. Purse & Passion, the YW’s largest fundraiser, has generated more than $5 million since 2000 for the agency’s programs that empower women in crisis to triumph over adversity.
The theme of this year’s luncheon was Sweet 16, and guests learned more about the YWCA’s programs designed to give youth a strong foundation and to equip them with the skills they’ll need for a successful future – one that’s safe, strong and secure. Guests also heard the inspiring stories of Lila and Gabrielle, both victims of domestic violence, who turned to the YWCA at the lowest point in their lives and found shelter and the supportive services they needed to rebuild their lives.
“Two years ago, I would never have imagined I would be standing here today,” Gabrielle told the audience, adding that she and her son were grateful for their support. “The YWCA provided us a safety net during a very scary time in our lives. The care and counseling we received while in the shelter helped me realize that I am not a victim. I am asurvivor of domestic violence.”
The funds raised at Purse & Passion, which are so vital to the YWCA’s mission, come from corporate and foundation sponsors, as well as contributions from guests the day of the event. More than 120 dedicated table captains invited friends and family members to help support the programs of the YWCA, including child development programs for children from homeless and low-income families; safe, decent affordable housing; domestic violence services and social justice programs.
Co-chairs for the 2015 luncheon were Lajuana Bradford, Lisa Burton, Lynn LaRussa and DeValerie Williams. Purse & Passion Steering Committee members were Barbara Blair, Dalton Blankenship, Maggie Brooke, Myla Calhoun, Paige Daniel, April Deal, Jill Deer, Jennifer Evans, Gillian Goodrich, Brenda Hackney, Kathryn Harbert, Sheryl Kimerling, Ricki Kline, Lisa Miller, Dot Mueller, Carla Roberson, Valerie Thomas, Melinda Underwood and Debbie White.
The YWCA is grateful to the 90 corporate sponsors, who so generously support our efforts to create a more caring community. Major support for the luncheon came from Belk, Inc.; Harbert Management Corporation; Alabama Power Company; Protective Life Corporation; Red Diamond; Regions Financial Corporation; Alabama Media Group; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; and Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc.
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