By Coshandra Dillard
Tickets are still available for this weekend’s Women of Elegance gala, an annual event benefiting the organization’s mentoring program, Inspiring Minds. It’s the group’s largest fundraiser of the year.
About 15 school age girls—known collectively as GEM (Girls Empowerment Movement) —are partnered with mentees to help them navigate through the challenges of teen life, learn to become leaders and receive encouragement.
In its third year, the gala also marks the anniversary of the organization.
“This is kind of like a celebration,” said founder and president, Tywanna Miller. “It’s a party with a purpose.”
The first gala was created to get Inspiring Minds off the ground, which launched the following spring.
Organizers hope to raise at least $1,000 to help expand the mentoring program. In the years to come, they want the group to serve even more girls with more tools.
“I really hope to have a facility where we could hold seminars, tutoring, and an after school program for our girls,” Miller said.
Miller said they aim to help girls build self-confidence and enhance leadership skills through community service and real life experiences. The women also offer assistance with senior pictures and prom night by providing makeup, photography and styling.
“They look forward to that,” Miller said. “Some look at prom as a burden because they know they don’t have the funds for what they need. They’re so deserving of it. To see their faces, it just makes me feel like this is what I’m suppose to be doing.”
The organization also takes the girls on college tours and field trips, help with college preparation, and teach the girls about etiquette.
“We try to assist whatever their need is at the moment,” Miller said. “We want to inspire them to be successful young adults.”
The vision for the Women of Elegance grew from a need to fill a void that Miller felt as a child.
“When I was younger, there were a lot of things that I was going through but I didn’t have anybody to talk to,” Miller said. “I had a mother and sister, but I didn’t want to talk to them about those issues.”
Since its inception, the group has helped nurture a stronger bond between Miller and her sister, Timikia Miller, who is also a member of Women of Elegance.
“We’re a sisterhood so we try to set an example,” she said.
Membership in the organization is open to women who have an interest in serving the community, mentoring, and networking. In January, Women of Elegance opens a membership drive and hosts an interest meeting.
They offer opportunities for members to connect through professional development workshops, group mentoring activities, and health and wellness awareness events.Volunteer opportunities also include participating in charitable events, cleaning up Fun Forest Park and partnering with local organizations to raise funds.
IF YOU GO:
What: Women of Elegance Diamonds and Pearls Christmas Charity Gala
When: 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday
Where: Hollytree Country Club, 6700 Hollytree Drive
Info: Visit Eventbrite for ticket information.