United Way of Lewis County’s Power of the Purse event on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 was an amazing night that raised funds to assist United Way in lifting families out of poverty in Lewis County. More than 315 women enjoyed wine, savory appetizers and delectable desserts provided by Joy Templeton of Joy’s Once Upon a Thyme, an amazing speaker, an energizing fashion show orchestrated by Lori DeGidio of Gracie’s, announcement of Angela DuPont as the 2017 Woman of Excellence award, and of course, purses.
Annual events such as the Power of the Purse, Chef’s Night Out and their annual Golf Tournament coming up next month, are critical to the success of their strategy, raising roughly $90,000 annually that the organization uses to fulfil its mission. But the money is only part of the goal of these events. Education is really the most important aspect.
“Not only are these events fun for our community to attend, but it gives them a chance to learn a little bit more about what United Way is doing in the community,” says Angela French, resource development director for United Way of Lewis County. “We share our story with them and the amazing things that are happening in Lewis County with social services and what United Way’s role is.”
The event kicked off at 4:30 p.m. with women mingling and checking out all of the beautiful purses, sipping cocktails and enjoying savory appetizers served tableside by the Adna Cheerleading Squad. United Way of Lewis County “Cabana Boys” sold raffle tickets – each woman could put her tickets into the bag she hoped she would win.
Over 36 purses and other items were donated for the raffle, including leather boots from Sparkle –n-Spurs, spa packages from local salons, and even beach trips. Dick’s Brewing Company donated a cooler filled with their delicious foods, and the Parkside Salon & Spa donated a Pendleton travel bag with matching cosmetic case filled with spa items. Major Sponsors of this event included Derma Medical Spa, Coldwell Banker Kline – Martha Hunt, Pacific Mobile Structures, and Doris’ Divas. Other Purses were donated by retailers, artists, businesses, friends and donors from the local community. Styles included everything from the fanciful and functional to chic designer bags, totes, spa services and more.
French said they believe this year’s event exceeded last year’s in terms of the total amount raised.
Angela DuPont – 2017 Woman of Excellence Award
“One of our favorite parts of this event is the Woman of Excellence Award,” says French. “We are so proud to honor a special woman with this award and to surprise her.”
The 2017 Woman of Excellence Award was given to Angela DuPont, People Operations Director for Pacific Mobile Structures. Angela was recognized for her strong leadership skills and her ability to serve as a role model/mentor to other women and girls, as well as demonstrating a long-term commitment to United Way of Lewis County’s mission of lifting families out of poverty. Words used to describe Angela included perseverance, invested, go-getter, trustworthy, powerful, visionary, and passionate.
“Angela DuPont just hit every mark on why this award is given out every year,” French explains. “She is just so humbled and kind and so involved in the community. And it was an amazing experience to see her receive the award and how gracious she was about receiving it. It’s by far our favorite part of this event.”
The energizing fashion show was directed by Cathy Rieper and Jenni Bodnar – both engaging women who have a heart for supporting Lewis County. Attendees were also enlightened by the “United Way Story” given Erica Hallock, Washington State Director for the ‘Fight Crime: Invest in Kids’ program.
A New Strategy for United Way
United Way of Lewis County is in the process of changing their strategy as part of their three year plan that sees them to the year 2020. The organization’s mission and processes to carry out that mission has not been changed since they began in 1961.
“It’s time for a change,” says French. “We are starting a whole new way of supporting the community by weaving programs and solutions that are addressing poverty on a deeper level. So instead of funding a lot of different programs year after year, what we are strategically doing right now is trying to focus on the preventive or long-term solutions to lifting families out of poverty rather than the quick fix as before. Our main focus from here on out will be programs and partnerships that directly lift families out of poverty with the bold goal of lifting 30 percent of Lewis County families out of poverty by 2030.”
Their new strategy comes in response to trends they are seeing with the current programs they support. If these programs were as effective, they should see numbers of those needing them decrease, but instead United Way is seeing the numbers rise. One thing they are really interested in is breaking the multi-generational cycle of poverty by targeting early education for children from these families.
For more information about United Way’s programs, visit the United Way of Lewis County website. You can still enter the United Way Golf Tournament, happening September 8 at Riverside Golf Club in Chehalis. And don’t forget to check back for details on next year’s Power of the Purse.