YWCA’s 18th Annual Purse & Passion Luncheon Helps Change Lives

April 24, 2017

Ryan and Jeannell Ashley wanted nothing more than to raise their children in a happy, loving home. Instead, they lost everything after taking out payday loans and getting trapped in a cycle of debt. Fortunately, the staff of YWCA Central Alabama helped them get back on their feet, and the Ashleys have been self-sufficient for more than a year.

The family was among those celebrated at the 18thAnnual Purse & Passion Luncheon, held April 20 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel. Nearly 1,500 supporters attended the event and opened their purses and wallets to raise critical funds to help the women, children and families served by the YWCA.

The theme of the luncheon was “Gifts of Grace,” and those in attendance celebrated the gifts the YW provides for those in crisis.

Jordan and Tami, both domestic violence survivors, found the gift of strength while staying in one of the YW’s emergency shelters.

The children of homeless and working poor families who attend the YWCA’s nationally-accredited child development center find the gift of hope for a bright future.

The Ashleys, who found their way to the YW’s Interfaith Hospitality House, a shelter for homeless families, received the gift of stability. “The YW really did give us a second chance,” Ryan Ashely said.  

Paige Daniel, one of the luncheon’s co-chairs, asked those in attendance to make their own gift of grace. “One of our favorite definitions of grace is “showing love, kindness, compassion, mercy or favor to benefit or serve another,” she said. “We all have the opportunity to do that today.”

YWCA CEO Yolanda Sullivan said she was humbled by the outpouring of support. “We serve some of the most vulnerable in our community, and we are so grateful for everyone who invested so generously in their lives,” she said. “The YW’s programs are life-changing and life-saving, but we could not make the impact we do without such compassionate partners.”

Co-chairs for the 2017 luncheon were Tracey Morant Adams, Paige Daniel and Andrea McCaskey. Steering Committee members were Dalton Blankenship, Lajuana Bradford, Maggie Brooke, Lisa Burton, Nancy Burton, Myla Calhoun, April Deal, Jill Deer, Jennifer Evans, Tammy Fincher, Brenda Hackney, Kathryn Harbert, Sheryl Kimerling, Ricki Kline, Lynn LaRussa, Lisa Miller, Dot Mueller, Carla Roberson, Kim Rogers, Holly Stiles, Debbie White and DeValerie Williams.

The event would not be possible without the more than 125 dedicated Table Captains who invited friends and family members to support the YWCA’s programs or the generosity of corporate and foundation sponsors.

Nearly 100 corporate sponsors, including presenting sponsors Belk, Inc. and Harbert Management Corporation, supported the YW’s efforts to create a more caring community. Major support for the luncheon came from Alabama Media Group; Alabama Power Company; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; EBSCO Industries, Inc.; Protective Life Corporation; Red Diamond; Regions Financial Corporation; Altec, Inc.; McKinney Capital; PNC; and Publix Super Markets Charities.
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