Oh, what a night it was as members and non-members of Valley of the Sun United Way’s Women Leadership Council (WLC) recently gathered at The Camby Hotel in Phoenix for a Women Unite fall event.
“Women network in different ways,” said WLC co-chair Sarah Zelhart from UMOM. “And it’s so important we support each other. But our mission is to connect women in philanthropy. All of the women here have self-selected to give up their time, of their talents, of their treasure in order to better our community.”
Breakfast in the Classroom costs $4,000 to set up the infrastructure in each school. What’s nice about it is no child is singled out or has to make a choice between eating breakfast in the cafeteria or playing with friends. “It makes all those kids equal,” said Kristy.
“If kids are hungry, they can’t focus,” said WLC member Andrea Scott from Vanguard. She’s a big fan of the program. “We need to start with the basics. And providing food is one of the basics so that kids can start off on the right foot.”
But once WLC reaches the goal of 130 schools, their mission won’t be done. “If we do it in the next 6 months, if we get there, we’re going to turn around and pick the next classroom hunger initiative,” said Sarah. “So we’ve made classroom hunger our cause.”
Former 12News Anchor and now Hospice of the Valley Director of Community Engagement Lin Sue Cooney got the WLC crowd motivated with her life story.
Lin Sue was the oldest of four kids, growing up in Great Falls, Montana. Lin Sue’s mom got a job and did the best she could to support the family and worked hard to make ends meet.
After graduating from college, Lin Sue moved to the Valley where she was with 12News 31 years. But she feels more rewarded in her current job, helping others. She told the crowd that a job doesn’t define you, it’s your service!
Lin Sue admits it was hard to feel rewarded in her television job. “It’s a machine. And it feeds itself on tragedy and sensationalism a lot and not enough on the beauty, kindness, and compassion in the world.” Her only regret is that she didn’t leave media sooner. With two sons now in high school, Lin Sue is enjoying having most evenings free to spend with them.
Lin Sue encourages everyone to volunteer and has admiration for those who already do. “So everything you do goes right to your heart. And it comes from your heart. You’re doing it because you’re a volunteer, probably. You’re certainly giving of your time. People give of their pocketbooks. They’re doing it for the right reasons.”
Andrea came away feeling more inspired. “I think it's great hearing someone’s life story and what makes someone want to pay it forward in a community.”
Kristy describes the event as powerful. “I thought it was great. I love being in a room full of women. It’s really empowering to be around women and to hear the story of the teacher (valley kindergarten teacher Ms. Crawford shares her personal story in a video and talks about the importance of Breakfast in the Classroom), to hear Lin Sue’s story, and to see how we all work together.”
The whole evening can be summed up with Lin Sue’s message that if you want a life of purpose, you should have a life of service!