Women Opened Their Hearts, Minds and Purses at First Annual Power of the Purse Luncheon

Posted on December 12, 2013

On Wednesday, December 4, the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), held its first annual Power of the Purse luncheon at the Grey Oaks Country Club.  Featured speakers highlighted a significant grant that the WIN Committee awarded this past March.  Brenda Tate spoke on behalf of the Women’s Fund of SWFL, Inc. which was granted $10,000 to start a partnership between the Human Trafficking Task Force and Florida Gulf Coast University to coordinate the work of law, order and victim support associated with modern slavery.

Connie Rose, founder of Victims2Survivor, shared eye-opening statistics and her personal journey as a young girl caught in the sex trade.  According to Connie, her story is more common than expected and she educated guests on the signs of human trafficking.  In Florida, we have one of the highest occurrences of human trafficking in the U.S.

Stacey Deffenbaugh, anchor for NBC-2 News, emceed the luncheon while Lisa Merritt, WIN Committee Chair, spoke about the mission and goals of the women’s fund – to honor local women leaders, mentor future women leaders, and most importantly to raise dollars for impact grants towards women and girls programs in Collier County.

The event closed with Mrs. Merritt’s formal announcement of the 2014 Women of Initiative honorees.  *This year’s class includes Jackie Bennett, Karen Clawson, Joan Clifford, Carol Dinardo, Stacey Herring, Mariann MacDonald, Rebecca Newell, Mary Osborn, Jeannie Meg Smith, Elizabeth Star and Marla Weiss.  Several inspiring women were nominated, but only 10 can receive the Women of Initiative award (this year, eleven women) that made a transformational difference in our community through philanthropy.  An awards luncheon is being held at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Resort on March 31, 2014.

Overall, two hundred and fifty attendees enjoyed the new purse theme that was carried throughout the event with purse decorated cupcakes, beautiful vintage purse floral centerpieces, and donated purse drawings.  Yarmon Jewelers graciously donated a Marina B. Twin Ring valued at $11,000 towards the prizes and Kent Center for Life sponsored the event.

View event photos