A Message From The President

September 2013

Our annual retreat is an important tradition where we relax, spend time with close friends and bond with new friends. Last month we traveled to the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa for a memorable weekend. The Saturday program showcased two of our members, Bonnie Saks and Susan Steen, who spoke about intimacy, relationships and memory loss. Both skillfully mixed science with anecdotes to shed light on our relationships with others – and ourselves — throughout every stage of our lives. Listening to Bonnie and Susan’s presentations reminded me once again of the depth of our member’s expertise.

One of the highlights of the retreat was the scavenger hunt on the hotel grounds. Teams were randomly chosen during dinner on Friday night by selecting colored rings from a bag.   Miriam
Mason and I (the event planners) were concerned that the teams would not locate all of the items during the allocated hour for this activity. We certainly underestimated the competitiveness and creativity of Athena participants! Congratulations to the winning team of Edna Broyles, Jeanette Fenton, Yvonne Fry, Judy Ryan and Amanda Sansone!   Soon you will see photos on the Athena website of the winning team proudly wearing their gold medals and all the teams competing in the hunt.

Thanks so much to Amanda Sansone, Chair of the Retreat Committee, and her committee consisting of Margaret Matthews, Tina Tenret, Lara Tibbals, Yvonne Fry, Miriam Mason, Melinda Chavez, Bonnie Saks, Susan Dellinger, Mindy McLaughlin, Elaine Terenzi, Gail Holtzman and Maruchi Azorin for their fabulous job planning the retreat and the amazing
goodie bags. A special thanks to Maruchi for the beautiful Athena handkerchiefs and to Deborah Skyrms (Deborah Kent’s) and Winnie Marvel (Alvin Magnon Jewelers) for the generous gift certificates.

We begin our monthly programs by honoring the recipients of Phyllis Marshall Career Assistance Grants. These annual grants are one of the tangible ways that we come together as a group to assist women. All of the recipients are struggling to become educated so that they can improve their lives.  Many of them are single mothers raising children, working and attending school. They have desperate financial situations and little or no support from family and friends. We provide grants to these women from our fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. The fund was created in honor of Athena’s 20th anniversary as a meaningful way for us to help women. Currently our fund has a balance of approximately $85,000. Each year 10% of Athena’s unallocated fund balance is
added to the fund. Athena receives approximately 5% of the total fund balance each year to award grants. Another source of funds for the Career Assistance Grants is the Beth Waters Friendship Fund (BWFF). Beth Waters was an active Athena sister who lost a courageous battle to cancer in 2006 at the age of 45. Following Beth’s death, her friends and family formed the BWFF to honor and remember her. The BWFF currently provides grants to three organizations that were important to Beth: The Spring of Tampa Bay, Faces of Courage and Athena. This year we received a $2300 grant from the BWFF which we will present during our September meeting. Beth’s legacy continues by providing funds to educate and empower women.

Thank you to Adrienne Garcia for serving as Chair of the Phyllis Marshall Career Assistance Grants Committee this past year and to Rachelle Bedke for serving as Chair for 2013-2014. This Committee handles the grant application and selection process. Rachelle and I encourage you to join this committee and participate in this signature program.

JoAnn Urofsky has graciously agreed to serve as Chair of the Philanthropy Committee for the upcoming year. Under JoAnn’s leadership, the goal is to increase Athena’s Community Foundation fund from $85,000 to $100,000. This will enable us to provide more grants on an annual basis to deserving women in our community.