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Women-for-Women Giving Circle announces $450,OOO grant

CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas and featured speaker Maria Hinojosa chat at a coffee held before the luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Expo Center in Asheville.

By Dasha Morgan – At the 14th Annual Power of the Purse® luncheon held at the Crowne Plaza Resort in Asheville, a historic announcement was made. A $450,000 Women for Women Collaborative High Impact Grant to the Buncombe Partners in Prevention was announced. This is the largest award from the giving circle and the largest single competitive grant approved by The Community Foundation. Partners in Prevention concurrently address domestic abuse, sexual violence and child maltreatment. These Partners in Prevention are Helpmate, Mountain Child Advocacy Center, Our VOICE and Pisgah Legal Services. Representatives from these organizations came to the podium to receive a certificate.

The mission of Women for Women is to improve the lives of women and girls in Western North Carolina through collective giving by women. By banding together the impact is far greater on the community. Since 2006, $3.5 million has been given away in high impact grants to 18 counties in Western North Carolina. Women Helping Women is passionate about abuse prevention, which “is powerful work.”

They want to make sure people in the community have the skills and knowledge to deal with an abusive situation. Community Foundation Western North Carolina President Elizabeth Brazes said, “Every two hours, there is a report of child abuse.” Research has shown that education, transportation, childcare, life skills, jobs, housing and legal representation are factors inherent in the rescue, recovery and rehabilitation of women and girls to bring them out of violent and abusive situations.

Award-winning American journalist Maria Hinojosa was the featured speaker at the 14th Annual Power of the Purse® luncheon. As the first Latina correspondent for NPR, CNN and PBS—and recently on Meet the Press—her spirited presentation was timely. Maria was born in Mexico City and moved at a young age with her parents and siblings to Chicago, where her father began research for the University of Chicago.

She even proudly mentioned that her father had worked with a group of scientists on the groundbreaking procedure to help with severe-to-profound hearing loss, the cochlear implant. She also mentioned that her mother, who had not graduated from high school, was a feminist role model for her and had created the first domestic violence program for women in Chicago. She graduated from Barnard College and has won numerous awards for her journalism, a Peabody Award in 2015 for Latino USA, for the episode “Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras” and an Emmy Award for her talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One amongst others.

Maria then spoke of some of the problems she faced as a “first” for Latino journalists. “Yes, there is discomfort (being a first) but you just go ahead and start doing it.” On the September 11th terrorist attack, she was a correspondent who covered the story, almost for a whole year. From this, she suffered from PTSD. When she sought treatment, she found a healer who offered her a free Reiki-like healing method. Later Fiona Drunckenmiller, a New York philanthropist, became her supporter and helped her launch her own media company, The Futuro Media Group. She has reported on hundreds of important stories.

Maria considers herself an American journalist, not an activist. It is the journalistic responsibility to find the truth, and report it. She said, “We all have to open our eyes and talk to people in our community. At the core of our democracy is dialogue.” She challenged the crowd to love, to be inclusive, and to be careful with language. “Words can be dehumanizing.” She dislikes the words “slaves, minority and illegal” as these words are belittling and disempowering. Then she talked about specific situations regarding immigrants in North Carolina, such as the Smithfield Plant in Carrboro where recent ICE raids have detained many and the success of the bi-lingual educational program in Silar City and Chatham County.

The Power of the Purse® luncheon once again filled the Expo Center with approximately 1,000 attendees this year. Screens filled the Center’s walls, so all could hear and easily see the speakers. The proceeds from the luncheon benefit The Women’s Fund, a permanent endowment at The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Well known and powerful speakers and personalities have been brought in the past, such as Olympia Snowe, Dee Dee Myers, Anna Deavere Smith, Gloria Steinem, Jennifer Buffett, Cokie Roberts, Anna Quinlen, Piper Kerman, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. To learn more about the organization or to become a donor, go to

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