Circle aims to involve women of all ages

Rosie Molinary

BOONE, N.C. — As a first fundraiser, the Appalachian Women’s Fund has set the bar high for its inaugural Women of Vision event.

Just six months old, this all-volunteer giving circle created by and for the women and girls of Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties raised $60,000 at their June 5 event.

The morning started with a screening of “From Homeless to Harvard,” a movie that depicts the story of Liz Murray, who found herself homeless at age 15, but persevered to win a scholarship to Harvard.

Intended to inspire attendees and illustrate the vision the Appalachian Women’s Fund has for the types of issues they wish to address in their community, the movie screening was followed by remarks from Murray, who received the inaugural Women of Vision award.

“She came out to speak and there was not a dry eye in the house,” says Nancy Ashline, President of the women’s fund. “People were shocked to learn that 1 percent of our student body is homeless. That was one piece of awareness that we were able to bring to the 200 people who were able to attend.”

A luncheon and auction followed at the Blowing Rock Country Club, where items like purses, spa weekends and girlfriend getaways led to the final fundraising totals.

With the event being 100 percent underwritten by sponsors, all of the proceeds will help the fund achieve its goal of being a philanthropic catalyst for social change and economic justice so that the women and girls of their community can reach their full potential.

As a granting making organization, the fund currently is taking applications from eligible area organizations proposing programs that will create social change for women and girls.

“There is a large female population that is under the poverty level in Boone,” says Ashline.  “I really feel like there is a strong need to lift these women and their children up to break the cycle so that they can succeed.”

Others agree with her.  Before the Women of Vision event, 75 women and girls had joined the organization in some capacity.

That includes the 25 junior members who are in high school or college and volunteer their time to the group, as well as the 50 members who contribute financially at one of five giving levels, ranging from $100 to $2,500 a year.

And Ashline believes many of the 200 people in attendance at the Women of Vision luncheon also will join the effort, which, beginning this December, will grant local organizations anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 a year for their women-centered programming.

While their model of staggered giving options is unique, their decision was deliberate.

“This community is so diverse, and we wanted to welcome as many women as wanted to be a part of creating social change for women,” says Ashline.  “We have a lot of educated women up here, and they all wanted to be involved.  We are very fortunate to have this group of women who are so talented and want to give of themselves freely.”

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