The Salinas Californian
Fall is here, which means a couple of things: We can all start fretting about holiday planning and shopping, and the final IMPOWER luncheon of the year has taken place. While the holidays are sure to be hectic, the IMPOWER luncheon once again provided ample inspiration to make us all a bit more appreciative of all we have — and all we can do to help and support one another. As always, a sold out crowd attended the event at Corral de Tierra Country Club on October 16. A fabulous day to join together and celebrate the reasons we are all grateful to live in such a fabulous community.
The featured nonprofit organization was the Women’s Educational Leadership Institute (WELI). With several program participants in the audience, we had a chance to meet and mingle and learn more about how WELI provides more than a scholarship — it provides an opportunity for a new life. WELI is a Life Skills Program which increases leadership capacity, workforce skills and college completion of women, single parents, and first in family college students. Additionally, WELI provides each WELI Scholar with a mentor to continue their education and growth. Donations of school supplies were collected before lunch to help these deserving students be prepared as they work toward furthering their education.
A special presentation was made to Amanda Bakker from Tatum’s Garden. The August IMPOWER Gala was a fundraiser for Tatum’s Garden, and the $50,000 in proceeds from that event will help with continuing maintenance of the wonderful all-inclusive playground in Salinas.
As we’ve come to expect, the keynote speaker was a woman of courage and tenacity, with a story told through laughter and tears. Jackie Cruz, executive director of Institutional Advancement and Hartnell College Foundation — and a proud Hartnell alum — overcame tremendous obstacles to get where she is today. Jackie has been recognized for her work with the United Way Monterey County, Hartnell College Foundation and a multitude of nonprofit organizations with which she is involved. Having lived through hardships, Jackie has a passion for connecting people with appropriate resources to help lead them to self-sufficiency and success. As if her riveting story wasn’t enough, she then wowed the audience by singing a song in Spanish with a harp accompaniment. All in all, Jackie is a force to be reckoned with and we all benefit from having someone of her caliber on our side. And if you missed her dress, well, that’s a shame! A hand-crafted frock made by Lynn Merrill-Paduck out of men’s neckties.
As always, IMPOWER and the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce Staff, under the direction of president and CEO Paul Farmer, thank everyone who has supported IMPOWER over the past six years. From our fantastic vendors (Lizzie G And Me was October’s vendor) and raffle item donors to our major sponsors and in-kind supporters and committee members, we couldn’t do it without all of you so a huge thank you for all that you do!