By Darla Childress
Women’s Fund of Smith County

If you know me well, you know that Ilove a unique bag for evenings. I don’t feel my wardrobe is complete until it’s complemented with that special little purse.  However, whether it be my cork clutch, beaded crossbody, a straw rattan bag, the contents that I carry in it are what are most important to me. I must be able to include the essentials:  lipstick, phone, keys, license and cash.

As I begin thinking about this year’s Power of the Purse Luncheon, I ask myself, “How do I pack my purse for serving others? What are the essentials I include?”  Once again, just as I pack very few, yet extremely important items for evening, I realize that for my ‘Purse of Service’ I need to include basic, necessary essentials: my ideas, my energy, a positive attitude, a monetary gift and my love.  Only five basic items needed to make such an impact on others’ lives.

Thankfully to the many women involved in the Women’s Fund of Smith County, their purses have blessed twenty-seven agencies and countless lives with grants totaling $1,672,293 since 2009. This year, four impactful grants were made to PATH, East Texas Crisis Center, Discovery Science Place and Next Step Community Solutions – Suicide Prevention and Counseling Expansion.  With the heartbreak of more suicides evident, this new program is designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and cultures, ultimately preventing suicide, bullying and substance abuse at two Smith County public school campuses.

I hope you will join us for this year’s Power of the Purse Luncheon to learn about the major impacts being made in Smith County and to be entertained and inspired by our special guest, Sandra Joseph.  As a history-making Broadway star now inspirational keynote speaker, her legendary run as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera” spanned ten years, more than 1,500 performances and earned her the record as the longest-running leading lady in the longest-running Broadway show of all time. 

How grateful I feel to be serving, alongside the 300 plus members of the Women’s Fundof Smith County, by opening my ‘Purse of Service’ to help those less fortunate and in need.  If I may ask…have you ‘packed your purse’?  If not, I hope that you will consider doing so by joining the Women’s Fund of Smith County.  I can assure you, you will be blessed!

The 12th Annual Power of the Purse Celebration Luncheon will be held Tuesday, November 5 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Green Acres CrossWalk Conference Center in Tyler, featuring history-making Broadway star, bestselling author and TEDx speaker, Sandra Joseph. Ms. Joseph will be signing copies of her book “Unmasking What Matters: 10 Life Lessons from 10 Years on Broadway” at the luncheon. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, please visit or call 903-509-1771.

Darla Childress serves as Chair of the 2019 Power of the Purse Luncheon, celebrating philanthropy in our community. She is an active 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.