Over 1,300 friends and supporters, old and new, came to the Downtown Sheraton Hotel Ballroom on April 24 for the 15th Annual Purse & Passion Luncheon to honor and support the services offered by the YWCA. Being the 15th Purse & Passion, the theme of this year’s luncheon was “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present and Looking Towards the Future.” The Purse & Passion Luncheon is the YWCA’s single largest fundraiser. Each year, generous funds are raised from corporate and foundation sponsors, as well as contributions from guests the day of the luncheon.
This year’s Woman of Honor Medallion was presented to Gillian Goodrich and Jenny Gauld, the “founding mothers” of Purse & Passion, as well as Suzanne Durham, recently retired CEO of the YWCA Central Alabama. Gauld and Goodrich, along with Durham’s leadership, established an event that invited women in our community to assert their own philanthropic giving by hearing our “passion” and opening their “purses.” The Woman of Honor Medallion is presented each year to a woman who has dedicated a tremendous amount of effort to support the YWCA and its mission.
Guests watched videos based on the “past, present and future.” The first of the three videos honored the past by featuring YW supporters and friends in a dedication to Suzanne Durham. The touching video centered around what we like to call, “Suzanne-isms,” phrases often used by Durham. Expressions such as, “strong alone, fearless together,” “more money, more mission” and “a hand up, not a handout” accurately reflect Durham’s 34 years of dedication to the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women.
The second video celebrated the present by highlighting former YWCA resident Latoya. Ten years ago, Latoya came to the YWCA with her two children from a domestically abusive relationship. Today she is an empowered woman with a fulfilling career and two happy, healthy teenagers. Looking towards our future, guests of the luncheon watched a day in the life of Damien, one of our children in KIDS (Kids in Distress) Korner, the YWCA Central Alabama’s child care facility for children and their families experiencing homelessness.
The YW would also like to give a special “thank you” to Belk for transforming the ballroom with their beautiful decorations. Their volunteers made the celebration of the 15th anniversary come to life.
Co-chairs for this year’s event were Lajuana Bradford, Maggie Brooke and Brenda Hackney. Purse & Passion Steering Committee members include Dalton Blankenship, Lisa Burton, Myla Calhoun, Kate Cotton, Malena Cunningham, Page Daniel, April Deal, Jennifer Evans, Jenny Gauld, Gillian Goodrich, Sheryl Kimerling, Ricki Kline, Lynn LaRussa, Lisa Miller, Dot Mueller, Carla Roberson, Valerie Thomas, Debbie White and DeValerie Williams. Thank you all so much for volunteering your purses, time and positive energy to make the luncheon a beautiful event.
Over the past 15 years, the Purse & Passion Luncheon has introduced thousands to the YWCA Central Alabama’s broad array of services and programs. The funds raised have helped more than 68,000 victims of domestic violence receive court advocacy services, provided free child care to more than 1,200 children of homeless families, and more than 38,000 members of our community have received professional advice via our domestic violence crisis hotline, AmeriCorps members, social justice programs and many more.
The YWCA would also like to thank all of our corporate sponsors for the event. Thank you for helping us create a beautiful event and supporting our efforts to make a more loving and inclusive community.
We are endlessly grateful for the amount of time, dedication and support contributed by all who helped make this year’s Purse & Passion a success. If you would like to support or get involved with our vital programs and services, please click here.