by Monika Templeman, LWRWC Publicity Chair
On Thursday, January 14, 2021, Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club (LWRWC) celebrated donating $65,100 in cash and in-kind to their four 501(c)(3) adopted charities at their January Meeting via Zoom. Attendees were inspired by moving presentations from HOPE Family Services, Solve Maternity Homes, SMART (Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy), and Children’s Guardian Fund (CGF) highlighting how LWRWC’s generosity made such a difference! The Charities Executive Directors, Laurel Lynch (HOPE), Peggy Kerwin (Solve), Rebecca Blitz (SMART), Svetlana Kaminsky (CGF), and Kristin Poolman (CGF Program Director) expressed their appreciation and collectively thanked LWRWC for stepping forward when so many supporters are pulling back during the pandemic. The donations marked the culmination of an innovative year in charity fundraising led by LWRWC Philanthropy Co-chairs, Eileen Buzzard and Trish Newman. In addition to significant cash donations from no-contact fundraisers and a successful Fashion Show Fundraiser held early in 2020, in-kind donation vehicles included a Smart Barn Drive, a school supplies Backpack Challenge, and a virtual Baby Shower. LWRWC also donated clothing, toys, handmade blankets sewn by LWRWC Blankets for Babies, and 3500 handsewn masks by the LWRWC Sewing Angels.
Video clips and testimonials by each charity illustrated why the support received improved lives. CFC, an organization that immediately responds to the needs of children removed from abusive or neglectful homes, presented a thank you video on behalf of the children they serve in Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit. Since November over 1,970 children in foster care, teenage victims of sex trafficking in a group home, and opioid-addicted babies benefited. CFC was able to provide emergency needs, tutoring, summer camp and activities, cribs, beds, school clothes, and so much more. HOPE Family Services presented a poignant video featuring the heart-wrenching stories of courageous survivors of domestic violence whose lives were saved by HOPE. Domestic violence is an epidemic that claims a victim every 9 seconds! Hope offers a safe place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for survivors of domestic violence. In addition to Emergency Safe Shelter, Hope provides advocacy, counseling, and children’s services. Due to the pandemic, HOPE had to pivot like never before. To facilitate immediate communication, they added a text line and can be reached by texting “survivor” to 69922. Solve courageous speaker, Laurie, a lovely young mother accompanied by her adorable baby daughter, told how Solve Maternity Homes enabled her to get her GED, pursue a college education and have a brighter future. Solve has been assisting pregnant women in need and their precious babies for over 45 years and established a new EVOLVE Program for mothers like Laurie who are pursuing higher education. The LWRWC financial gift to Solve sponsored the Educational Center in the new Solve Sarasota Home. The presentations culminated with a testimonial by a SMART parent sharing how SMART made a huge difference in the life of her child! Since 1987, SMART fills a crucial need for effective therapeutic horseback riding and carriage driving programs for children (ages 5 and over) and adults with a wide range of physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities (including veterans suffering from PTSD and SELA trafficking victims) regardless of their financial circumstances.
Co-presidents Helene Levin and Cheryl Breining thanked the speakers and shared that the LWRWC members are thrilled to be able to help such worthwhile local charities that do so much for our community, especially at a time when the need is so dire! For more information about LWRWC, or to join, please visit www.lwrwc.org
Pictured: Eileen Buzzard, LWRWC Philanthropy Co-chair.