By Jennifer Gaston
Women’s Fund of Smith County

When I was invited to chair the 10th Annual Power of the Purse Luncheon, it never occurred to me that I would have the honor of chairing the 11th Annual Power of the Purse Luncheon as well. But here I am; and what makes the second time around that much better is having ninety percent of the volunteers from last year with me – plus more! If there is anything that has been permanently ingrained in my consciousness since attending my very first Power of the Purse Luncheon, it is this:  being a part of the Women’s Fund of Smith County is a truly inspiring experience.

Every time I am with these women, I am inspired to do more, to be more, to help more. The reason behind that inspiration is the women themselves. These selfless volunteers take part collectively, regardless of age, race or political persuasion. The women of the Women’s Fund are each filled with a giving spirit and a commitment to helping others that is obvious whenever you hear any of them speak. Not once have I heard any of them complain. Not once has a task been too daunting for these ladies to conquer. Not once have they turned away from a challenge. Their pervasive determination to outdo themselves from year-to-year is the reason the Women’s Fund of Smith County has been able to provide help to so many deserving organizations. It is an incredible honor to work side-by-side with these women—whose compassion to think of others first and do what it takes to make a difference echoes throughout our community.

As we celebrate eleven years of collective giving, nothing could be better than filling Green Acres CrossWalk Conference Center to capacity! It is our hope that every member will take part in the luncheon: bring a friend; invite a co-worker; ask a neighbor; call your relatives. Tell them all that the Women’s Fund loves to welcome new members who can bring their creativity and talents to our group.

The most important thing to do is remind everyone to bring their purses! Who goes anywhere without their purse? But especially for this luncheon, it is important to tell everyone ahead of time how much the success of the luncheon depends on bringing our purses, and metaphorically speaking, opening them wide to make donations that will literally changes lives in our community.

As you invite your friends and neighbors to be part of our luncheon, be sure to let them know they will have the opportunity to hear Trisha Meili tell her incredible story of hope and possibility. She wrote the best-selling memoir, I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility. Savagely beaten and left for dead, her story is less about the attack than it is about her remarkable recovery. “There is real power seeing women from different backgrounds coming together, using their individual wisdom, talents and experiences to provide support to others in need,” Meili observes. “I know, because I received that support. Where there is love and support, there is hope; with hope, possibility emerges. No matter how dire the circumstances may be, that is what moves life forward. That is the soul of my story.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to share time with remarkable women from our community and to hear from another remarkable woman, Trisha Meili, as she shares her message of hope and possibility. I promise, you will leave filled with inspiration and motivated to do more, be more and help more!

The 11th Annual Women’s Fund of Smith County Power of the Purse Luncheon will be held on Tuesday, November 6th from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM at the Green Acres CrossWalk Conference Center. Trisha Meili will be signing copies of her book at the luncheon. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, please visit or call 903-509-1771.

Jennifer Gaston, editor of TYLER TODAY Magazine, is a member of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a giving circle with a mission of transforming our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children. Visit to learn more about the WFSC membership and mission.