SAINT AUGUSTINE — The third annual Women of Vision Power of the Purse® scholarship fundraising luncheon was hosted on May 18 in Flagler College’s Ponce de Leon Hall. The event raises money for student scholarships and opportunities and strengthens connections between Flagler College and women in the community. This year’s luncheon, which drew more than 340 women to the college’s historic Dining Room, featured a silent auction of beautiful and unique purses, as well as a keynote address by entrepreneur Jenny Levison, owner of the Atlanta-based “Souper Jenny” restaurants.
During her talk, “Women Around the Table,” Levison recounted her path, from acting in New York City and Los Angeles, to opening her first restaurant in Atlanta. The two professions, though very different, shared similarities in the lessons they imparted to her: passion is the impetus behind any successful pursuit, and mindfulness of self and compassion for others are critical to living a happy, balanced life.
“I had no business experience when I launched my restaurant,” she said during her presentation. “I did it by the seat of my pants, but I realized that this – cooking soup for others – was feeding my soul.”
The realization not only fulfilled her personal dreams, but provided nourishment for her community, a mission Levison values above all else. For every bowl of one of Levison’s most popular soups sold, the chef donates a bowl to area children and families in need as part of the restaurant’s “The Zadie Project” initiative. “Souper Jenny” currently donates 300 quarts of soup every week to several non-profit organizations in the Atlanta area.
“We all have the power to create community — to touch someone, because you never know what they’re going through,” she said.
Prior to the main luncheon event, attendees had the opportunity to browse 99 auction items, most of which were designer purses ranging in styles, from small cross-body and large totes to satchels and evening purses. Seven vintage purses were available for the first time, and five jewelry items and a Fendi purse were raffled. This year, an Electra Townie women’s bike brought the highest bid.
In addition to auction items, the luncheon included the unveiling of the 2017 Women of Vision Tribute Book, a special publication featuring written tributes honoring women who have inspired or left meaningful impressions. Tributes were purchased in memory of a loved one or in recognition of a living person.
“This year’s Power of the Purse was a stellar fundraiser with great support from the community,” said Dr. Beverly Carmichael, vice president for Institutional Advancement and Women of Vision Board member. “There was a special energy in the historic Dining Hall as the event harnessed the collective power of over 340 women inspired by ‘Souper Jenny’ and the scholarship recipients.”
Proceeds from the event will fund future Women of Vision scholarships. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the number of scholarships increased from three to five. Those recipients included students Yasmeen Anis, Caitlin Croley, Chloe Petito, Thamara Trematerra and Faith Wyluda.
Flagler College and the Women of Vision Advisory Board extend a sincere thank-you to all the sponsors who helped make the Power of the Purse® event possible, including Bozard Ford Lincoln, Flagler Hospital, Leonard’s, Forrest, Inc., Burkhardt Sales and Service, Anh Vu, M.D., The Bailey Group, Fields Cadillac St. Augustine, Edward and Leigh Moorhouse, St. Johns Law Group, Old City Life, St. Augustine Media and St. Augustine Social and in-kind sponsors Beard’s Jewelry, Blue Water Jewelers, Hybrid Design, Inc., Island Life, Monarch Studio, Neff Jewelers, Nettles Fine Jewelry, Republic National Distributing Company and St. Augustine Distillery.
For more information on Women of Vision, visit www.flagler.edu/wov.