Event Date: Octoer 24, 2021
Location: Royal Sonesta Hotel
No. of Attendees: 400
Money Raised: $200,000
Beneficiary: The Women’s Fund for Health, Education and Resiliency
Honorary Chair: Edna Meyer-Nelson
Chairpersons: Lara Bell, daughter Dylan Milam, Aliza Dutt, daughter Addie
Honorees: Martha Walton and Julie Catherine-Elise Hakim
Photography: Killy Chavez with Catchlight Group
the Women’s Fund “Knocked It Out” at Their Annual Rockin’ Resiliency Luncheon For the 11th Time!
Over Four Decades … Eleven luncheons … Four-hundred supporters … numerous sponsors … 20 unique shopping vendors … 12,000 women and girls served annually … great chairpersons … a generous honorary chair … important honorees … and most importantly, $200,000 raised to help ensure more adolescent girls and women lead happier, healthier, and more resilient lives. What do these have in common? Answer: The Women’s Fund for Health, Education and Resiliency and their Annual Rockin’ Resiliency Luncheon!
It’s been said that good things grow from small seeds planted. Over 42 years ago, several women friends saw a genuine need in the community. They gathered experts as well as more friends to help bridge the gap and began providing women and girls with the health information they need to make informed decisions that would resonate with healthy outcomes. Today, The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency serves nearly 12,000 women and girls annually.
Successful events occur when inspired and motivated supporters combine their efforts. Such was the case for this luncheon, titled “Knock Out. Stronger Together,” when formidable Co-Chairs Lara Bell with her daughter Dylan Milam (who has attended this event with her mom for 8 years) and Aliza Dutt with her daughter Addie, Honorary Chair Edna Meyer-Nelson, honorees Martha Walton and Julie Catherine-Elise Hakim, sponsors Plains Capital Bank (for the vendor shopping booths), Veritex Community Bank (“Power Bucks”), Kelsey-Seybold Clinic (the keynote speaker) Elizabeth Grimm (the Education session prior to the event), Paulina McGrath and Republic State Mortgage (the photo booth) and TEGO Jewelers (the champagne raffle). The union of these remarkable and dedicated people, along with those 400 supporters who purchased tickets, raised $200,000 to continue the charity’s mission.
Emcee Casey Curry got the crowd ready to rumble and “girl power” anthem songs played throughout the luncheon. Board President Kathy Johnson surprised the joyful crowd by informing them that Houston Children’s Charity (and its CEO Laura Ward) and Edna Meyer-Nelson gifted the amount required to launch the first Mindfulness Class in spring 2022.
The keynote speaker for this “girl power” event was Marlen Esparza, one of the most decorated female boxers, an Olympic Boxing medalist, the current WBC World Title Belt Holder and the embodiment of women’s empowerment. She eloquently shared her journey to be accepted as a woman in a man’s ring—a fight that Esparza was determined to win, inside and outside the ring, thereby creating a voice for women’s sports and inspiring young girls to go after their dreams, whatever they may be.
Entertainment was performed by Treble Choir of Houston followed by an impactful speech from Monica Fulton who asked guests to “punch up” and continue to support the operations at The Women’s Fund.
Chairperson Lara Bell loved the fact that her daughter, who had attended this event for many years—first as a tween and then as a teen—has grown to have a unique perspective for giving back to the community and one that will lead her as she goes through her adult life. Lara also remarked that another delightful part of the event was “Power Bucks,” where 100 underprivileged young girls (ages 9-16) get dressed up and attend the luncheon. Each girl gets twenty $1 bills of fake money that they are able to spend at the shopping area. The chairs stipulated that the vendor booth area be set up with very affordable items for sale that were geared towards the teens/tweens and that could be purchased with their “Power Bucks!”
Socially present (and not previously mentioned): Jane and David Braden, M.D., Martha Walton, Mary Beth Robinson, Amy and Kaitlyn Pierce, Leslie Blanton, Mimi Lloyd, Jenny Elkins, Emma Fulton, Kathy Johnson, Rebecca Johnson, Allie Sarahan, Bishop Scott Jones and Mary Lou Reece, Katherine Cabaniss Parsley and Brian Parsley, M.D., Susan T. Whitfield, Jillian Nel, Yemsi Ariyo, Ginny Kirklin, Brian Faulkner and Jackie Macha, Kim Williams Matthes, Wanda T. Mott, M.D., Donna Tyler, Laura Blount, Cheryl Byington, Frene’ LaCour-Chestnut, M.D., Patricia Sturdivant, Laura Ward, Rania Mankarious, Dr. Julie Hakim, Donna and Lia Vallone, Donae Chramosta, Laura Davenport and Janette Masten Gardner.