Power of the purse on display in Women’s Fund luncheon

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

If you couldn’t find a parking spot in Ronceverte on Wednesday, it was with good reason. The Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation (GVCF) hosted a Women’s Fund luncheon this week at The Sportsman Tavern & Flavor Mutt. Women from Greenbrier, Monroe, Pocahontas, and Summers counties turned out in force. 

Jennifer Jones of Flavor Mutt and Pat Withrow of The Sportsman Tavern, co-hosted the annual women’s luncheon this year. Photo by Erin Hurst.

Anne Bowling, Executive Director of the GVCF, began the event by telling attendees, “This is one of my favorite days of the year. Because women really drive business and philanthropy here in the Greenbrier Valley.” 

She described the Women’s Fund, which was created in 2012 and has grown into a $60,000 fund which supports women in business. Over the past eleven years, the fund has contributed more than $25,000 to 29 organizations serving women and girls. 

Photo by Erin Hurst.

Keynote address 

After enjoying a lunch together provided by Flavor Mutt, Bowling welcomed keynote speaker Amy Jo Hutchison of Wheeling, WV, to address the group. Hutchison began by sharing her discomfort. 

“I’m the person who receives help from philanthropy, not the one sitting at the table doling it out,” she said. “There’s never been a day in my life I’ve been financially stable.” 

From left, Michelle McFall, Amy Jo Hutchison, and Anne Bowling. Photo by Erin Hurst.

Hutchison described a “poverty bias” in today’s society which she believes is deeply flawed. “We are taught poverty is a character defect,” she told attendees. “They say we’re lazy and not loving. That couldn’t be further from the truth.” 

In an impassioned plea, Hutchison urged the women in attendance, “Use your privilege to learn about poverty and the systems that create it.” She called on them to ask the tough questions, “What can we do to turn charity into empowerment?” She said answering that question is the key to “really fixing things.”

Women’s Fund Awards

Last year’s awardee, Amy Hubbard with Healing Hands, updated the group on her progress. “It has been a dynamic year for Helping Hands,” she said. “The funds you gave are earmarked for daycare, and we will be helping our most vulnerable population.” Hubbard said she is working with the CIty of Ronceverte in relation to a new ordinance they’ve passed to begin operations on a community center in the former hospital located on Greenbrier Avenue. 

The Healing Home was awarded a grant this year to begin a baby pantry. Photo by Erin Hurst.

Then, Bowling welcomed this year’s awardee, Healing Home–a women’s recovery organization located in a residence with several acres across from Greenbrier Valley Medical Center. Shay Huffman said the grant from the Women’s Fund will allow them to develop a baby pantry for clients. 

For more information on the Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation and the Women’s Fund, visit https://www.gvfoundation.org/

All pictures are used with permission from Erin Hurst Photography. You can find her work at http://erinhurstphotography.com.


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