A Message From The President

May 2014

Magical! Inspiring! These are two comments I heard from Athena members about the 2014 Dr. Sylvia Richardson Young Women of Promise Program. As the emcee, Linda Devine quickly made the YWP recipients and their guests feel welcome. Once again the Committee did a fabulous job and their attention to detail was apparent. Ernest Hooper of the Tampa Bay Times attended the meeting and wrote a beautiful article about the ten high school students. In case you missed it, here’s the link to his article. Lenora Lake also wrote a wonderful article for The South Tampa News on April 16th. Click for a link to her article.

The YWP program becomes more meaningful to me each year. I’ve reflected on the reasons and concluded that the program is a strong reminder of the progress women have made since Athena was founded. A Young Woman of Promise delivering her remarks from the podium looks out into a room filled with very accomplished professional women, including local and national politicians, business owners, judges, lawyers, doctors, educators, financial planners, accountants, the Chief of Police, School Board Members and a geologist. I’m hopeful that being honored as a YWP has a positive impact on her life by empowering her and giving her even more confidence. My wish is that these young women graduate from college, return to Tampa and become Athena members! For those who choose to live in other US cities, perhaps the introduction to Athena encourages them to seek out similar women’s organizations.

In May we direct our focus to women who are in a different place in life than the YWP. These women struggle financially to care for themselves and their children and often lack a strong network of support. Many of them are single mothers working and attending school. They’re trying to navigate a shift in their desperate circumstances. How do these women find resources to allow them to pursue an education? Fortunately, Athena has a fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay dedicated to providing career assistance grants. We are giving five grants totaling $6,300 to deserving recipients at our May meeting.

As of December 31, 2013, we have $94,461 in our fund at the Community Foundation. Our goal is to grow the fund to $100,000 so that we can give additional grants next year. We’re so close to achieving our goal! Please consider making a tax deductible contribution in honor of your mother for Mother’s Day, a mentor or an Athena member who has helped you, taught you and supported you. This contribution and a handwritten note from you to the honoree will be an unexpected, thoughtful gift. As Maya Angelou said “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”

Thanks so much to Rachelle Bedke, Elaine Terenzi, Katherine Essrig, Jane Peppard, Ann Giles, Susan Leisner, Annette DeLisle and Anita Caballero for serving on the Phyllis Marshall Career Assistance Grant Committee. Thanks also to our former leaders who created the fund at the Community Foundation in honor of the 20th anniversary of Athena. Awarding these grants is one of the tangible ways we come together to support women in the community.