Annual Purse & Passion Event Helps YWCA Change Lives

April 15, 2016

Pictured at right are 

Lisa Burton, Paige Daniel, DeValerie Williams, D'Aisa Stone, Liz Huntley, Aaron Brazelton, Yolanda Sullivan, and Brenda Hackney.


D’Aisa Stone, Spring Li and Aaron Brazelton have different life stories, but they share one thing in common. They all grew stronger at the YWCA Central Alabama, where they got the support and skills necessary to not only change their own lives but to empower others, as well.

The three were among those celebrated at the 17th Annual Purse & Passion Luncheon, held April 14 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel. More than 1,400 supporters attended the event and opened their purses and wallets to help the women, children and families served by the YWCA.

The theme was “Full Circle,” and Liz Huntley was the keynote speaker. Now a successful litigation attorney, Huntley should be just another statistic. The child of drug dealers – her father went to prison and her mother committed suicide – she was abused by a relative throughout her childhood.

But Huntley attended a quality preschool program similar to KIDS Korner, the YWCA’s child development center for homeless children. Because of the firm foundation she got and the support and encouragement of “game-changing” teachers and mentors, she was able to transform herself from child victim to child advocate.

The other honorees made similar transitions. D’Aisa and her teenage son stayed at Interfaith Hospitality House, the YW’s shelter for homeless families, after she was diagnosed with a chronic illness and lost her home and her car. Now back on her feet, she helps other women and girls discover their inner and outer beauty.

Spring, whose mother was a domestic violence victim and sought shelter at the YW, attended KIDS Korner and is now headed to college. A passionate youth volunteer, she plans to be a pediatrician.  Finally, Aaron was so inspired by the YWCA’s youth leadership programs, he now strives to create a more peaceful and just world through his work with World Learning in Washington, D.C.
“Each of the stories started with a moment,” DeValerie Williams, one of the luncheon’s co-chairs, told the guests. “We each have the opportunity to be a superhero and to help transform lives. This is your moment.”

Since its inception, Purse & Passion has raised more than $6 million, thanks to the generosity of corporate and foundation sponsors, as well as contributions from guests the day of the event. This year, more than 120 dedicated Table Captains invited friends and family members to support the programs of the YWCA.

Co-chairs for the 2016 luncheon were Lisa Burton, Paige Daniel and DeValerie Williams. Steering Committee members were Dalton Blankenship, Lajuana Bradford, Maggie Brooke, Nancy Burton, Myla Calhoun, April Deal, Jill Deer, Jennifer Evans, Jenny Gauld, Brenda Hackney, Kathryn Harbert, Sheryl Kimerling, Ricki Kline, Lynn LaRussa, Lisa Miller, Dot Mueller, Carla Roberson, Kim Rogers, Erin Stephenson and Debbie White.

Nearly 90 corporate sponsors, including presenting sponsor Belk, Inc., generously supported the YW’s efforts to create a more caring community. Major support for the luncheon came from Harbert Management Corporation; Alabama Media Group; Alabama Power Company; Red Diamond; Regions Financial Corporation; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; Protective Life Corporation; and Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc.