The first SWL fundraising event of 2018 was a true celebration of sisterhood, held serendipitously on International Women’s Day. A huge thank you to La Trobe Financial and their generous and enthusiastic support in making an incredibly successful and fun event possible.
Keynote speaker Anne Carey left guests speechless at her horrifying, yet incredibly hopeful story of her hands-on involvement in the Ebola crisis. Her speech levelled everyone in the room as to why we were there and exactly why the Society of Women Leaders exist.
The event reached fever pitch as the lunch kicked off with a surprise gift for one lucky guest who found a ticket under her chair which won a spectacular 5-course dinner at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal with matching wines.
The raffle reached new levels of blackmail thanks in part to Kerry Blake’s persistence and Monica Brown’s Glaswegian threats. Thank you to Paspaley for the exquisite gift (won by one of our newest members, Natasha Norton), whose continued support of SWL is greatly appreciated by members.
The auction kicked off with two exclusive items up for grabs, both touching and personal donations. A huge debt of gratitude to Larry Kestelman who donated VEGAS, his private super yacht for an afternoon cruise with full crew. This started a frenzy of bidding between Lisa Blundell and Vaughan Bowen, who ended up joining forces to donate an incredible $65,000. Thank you also to Chef Andrew McConnell who donated himself, cooking personally at the home of Penelope Lane - not just as a private chef for an evening but an award winning Melbourne icon. And of course a massive thank you to Judy Slatyer, CEO of Australian Red Cross, as well as SWL Chair Anita Pahor for their empowering and motivational speeches.
It is no coincidence that the first SWL fundraiser of 2018 was held on International Women’s Day. A marvellous way to kick off the year, raising $156,000 - way over our estimated goal. March 8th is a day that speaks to all of us in different ways. To many it represents hope and how far we have come. To others it stands for the journey ahead and the courage and fortitude that we must muster to continue. We are living in changing times, in a world where equality, a basic right of all people is still denied. As women we speak on days like March 8th for those sisters who have been silenced. We speak amidst poverty and terror in the streets of Pakistan (Malala Yousafzai) and we speak in the opulence and wealth of the Oscars (Frances McDormand), but we speak.
At SWL, we stand united as a community of women and it is through our philanthropic heart that we heal. It is with great joy that La Trobe Financial recognised this day, and whilst we celebrated the energy and positivity, it was joyous to see so many brothers, husbands, fathers and sons join us in that celebration. So raise a glass to International Woman’s Day - may we empower the generations of men and women that follow. May we inspire and protect those we are dedicated to support. May we respect understand and value one another and above all in the words of Anne Carey, ‘may we find the courage daily to be kind’.