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United Way's Power of the Purse inspires women leaders

United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley along with a volunteer committee formed a Women's Leadership Council to engage female donors giving at least $1,000 annually to United Way or participants in the Leadership Step Up Program staring at $500. The Women's Leadership program provides members with an opportunity to learn about needs in the community, network with peers, have fun and make a difference.

The Women's Leadership Council hosted its first Power of the Purse luncheon in November. The theme for this year's Luncheon was "Wear One, Bring One" which highlighted the Council's service project to collect and distribute undergarments to women in need throughout our community. The event's 400 attendees donated 850 bras and 163 underwear items.

Speakers included Former Mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin and Catherine Herzog from Support1000, a Chicago-based organization that collects and distributes undergarments for women.

Women's Leadership Council Chairwoman Dorenda Weaver said, "Our inaugural year has been a huge success, but that just means we've set the bar high for next year. Still, we look forward with great expectation as we strive to meet the needs of women in the Chattahoochee Valley."

Dorenda and event co-chairs and Sallie Martin and Audrey Hollingsworth tell us more in the following Q&As.

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Dorenda Weaver

Job: Executive Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer for TSYS.

Volunteer service: Columbus State University’s Tower Society, Cougar Club, and Alumni Association. United Way Board, West Central Georgia board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame board, St. Mark United Methodist Church.

Family: Husband, Lamar. Daughters, Jessica and Sydney. Grandson, Peyton.

Background: I was raised in Phenix City, graduating from Central High class of 1981. I attended Columbus State University, receiving degrees in computer science and accounting. I also hold a Masters in Personnel Management from Troy State University, am a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of the ABA National School of Bank Card Management.

Just for fun: In college, I was an All-American in both Academics and Athletics, and I’m a member of the CSU Sports Hall of Fame. Now I love watching my daughter, Sydney, play the sports she enjoys, mainly softball, basketball and golf.

Why do you feel it is important for women to get involved in the community and the Women’s Leadership Council?

The importance of women in the community is immeasurable. Women shape the lives of so many, and through the WLC women join forces for an even greater impact. The WLC provides an avenue for women from all walks of life to make a difference in the lives of other women here in the Chattahoochee Valley, and the world as a whole.

What impact do you hope the Power of the Purse luncheon will have in the community?

We hope that the Power of the Purse luncheon not only created awareness by drawing attention to the WLC initiative and the needs we are trying to meet, but also that it showed women from all over the area that there is a way for them to be involved and begin to make a real difference, right here at home. I believe that many of the women who are impacted by the WLC will themselves give to help someone else one day, all because of the kindness that was shown to them in their time of need.

Why is it important to support “Wear One, Bring One?”

We are very blessed. All of us. Rather than take those blessings for granted, we should give to help the needs of others. Wear One, Bring One was a great opportunity to share our blessings with those less fortunate and meet a very specific need. Life is very difficult for women without the basic necessities. Wear One, Bring One will provide women with the needed undergarments, but more importantly, it will help restore their dignity and self-confidence.

Sallie Martin

Job: Independent Contractor for Columbus Travel

Volunteer service: United Way, St. Francis Hospital, St. Luke United Methodist Church, Meals on Wheels and the Food Pantry.

Family: Husband, John Martin. Katie and Justin Krieg, grandson George. Elizabeth Martin. Lulie and Harrison Wallace. John Martin III.

Background: I was born and raised in Columbus and graduated from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Why do you feel it is important for women to get involved in the community and the Women’s Leadership Council?

I think it is important because of what Mayor Franklin said at our luncheon. She quoted Margaret Mead... “Never doubt that a small group of women can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This is so true!

What impact do you hope the luncheon will have in the community?

My prayer is that it raises awareness of all the agencies that are helping women in our community that are funded by United Way. I also hope that individuals can see that we identified a problem and then addressed it collectively. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all tried to do that on a regular basis? Eyes to see and a heart to help. The WLC is carefully looking at universal issues for women and how we can help.

Why is it important to support “Wear One, Bring One?”

This is such a simple way we can address one need. How basic undergarments are for women’s self esteem! Of course, this need will be ongoing for low-income women in our community. I almost think it is symbolic of helping women from the “inside out.” Let’s love and support these women one at a time so they may go out and feel confident at that job interview. Just knowing people care is huge in my opinion. I think next year can even be bigger and better and reach more women.

Audrey Hollingsworth

Job: Group Executive, Chief HR Officer at Synovus

Volunteer service: United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley and St Francis Hospital Board of Directors

Family: Selvin Hollingsworth, spouse. Taylor (daughter, 19) and Sydney (daughter, 15)

Background: Grew up in Columbus and graduated from Carver High School. Undergraduate Degree (BSEd) from the University of Georgia and Masters Degree (MSM) from Troy State University.

Just for fun: Hobbies include reading and watching “Criminal Minds” marathons with the family on Friday nights.

Why do you feel it is important for women to get involved in the community and the Women’s Leadership Council?

Women have the ability to make a powerful and positive impact on others. I have witnessed what happens when women come together to support a cause. Unbelievable things “get done.” It is important to get involved in the WLC because you can choose your type of participation: service project, membership and event support. Through the WLC women can serve a specific, community need through United Way.

What impact do you hope the Luncheon will have in the community?

We hope women were inspired to come together, have fun and learn more about a simple need that exists in our community. We hope the impact from the luncheon was a positive experience.The out pouring of support was confirmation that women in the community will rise to the occasion to fill a gap that exists in our community.

Why is it important to support “Wear One, Bring One?”

It is amazing to hear the testimonials describing the effect that one new bra can have on a woman’s image, confidence and ultimately her life.