Recently, Excelsior Youth Center was honored to be one of the beneficiaries of the Helping Women & Changing Lives luncheon, hosted by the Alliance Foundation and the Alliance of Professional Women (APW). These organizations have been strong supporters of Excelsior for years and we are so grateful for their support and belief in our mission.
The tagline of the APW says it all – this group is dedicated to “connecting women personally, professionally and philanthropically”. Through the Alliance Foundation (founded by members of the APW in 1994), this group helps fund programs for women who are “courageously envisioning and pursuing a different life for themselves”. In other words, the APW supports women who are working tirelessly to change their lives, but could use a helping hand.
United together, the women of the APW make a huge philanthropic impact in the lives of women in our community and all over the world.
The Helping Women and Changing Lives Luncheon
With over 400 attendees, the Alliance Foundation’s Annual Fundraising Luncheon helps the APW widen the base of community support for the improved status of women and girls. Proceeds from this event support programs that improve the quality of life for women and girls by helping them achieve self-sufficiency and economic independence.
One such program is Excelsior’s canine therapy program, Canine Healers. This program was specifically designed to support girls who have been victims of trauma through the assistance of therapy dogs. Excelsior has been employing the use of canine therapy for years because of the proven benefits it can provide for at-risk youth, specifically regarding improvement in social, emotional and cognitive thinking. Studies have shown that youth in these programs experience less anxiety and tension when a therapy animal is present, as well as decreased stress, improved communication and social skills, and increased self-esteem. For more information about Excelsior’s Canine Therapy programs, click here.
Understanding the importance and benefit of the Canine Healers program in the recovery of Excelsior’s youth, the Alliance Foundation generously granted our Canine Healers program with $2,500 at the Helping Women and Changing Lives Luncheon.
Luncheon Keynote Speaker – Mary McDonough
Mary McDonough, perhaps better known by her character name Erin Walton from the television show The Waltons, delivered a powerful and inspiring keynote address at the Helping Women & Changing Lives Luncheon. She immediately tapped into the compassion and philanthropic motivation of the group by emphasizing how powerful women can be when they are united for a common cause – she declared: “we are a force of nature”.
Mary continued with an analogy describing the life of a woman as a mosaic, full of different tiles of varying sizes, shapes and purpose. Each tile of our mosaic represents a different piece of our life – they are all very different, but fit together to become one. Some tiles are more important than others, some tiles have been around longer than others, some tiles are really comfortable and some are not comfortable at all. Regardless, each of these tiles has shaped us into be the people we are today. The experiences and roles that make up our mosaic have empowered us, motivated us, and defined us. Together these tiles are what make each of us strong so it’s incredible when women band together and our mosaics merge – this is when we become unstoppable. And this is how the APW makes such an enormous impact in the lives of women.
United together, the women of the APW garner their collective strength to empower others. Through outreach, these women give a piece of their mosaic to someone who needs it, empowering them by adding a tile to their mosaic that they may never have thought was possible.
This is what happens when you give back – you give hope and opportunity to someone else, like the Excelsior student who told her story at the Luncheon. This young girl gathered the courage to speak in front of 400 people and explain how Excelsior has empowered her. This young girl lived through an incredibly tough childhood. Born by a 12-year old mother, then sexually and physically abused in nearly every place she called home (there were too many of those), she came to Excelsior broken and traumatized. The young girl had received treatment prior to Excelsior and all the other treatment centers had one thing in common: they made her believe it was her fault. Fortunately for her, Excelsior was different. It was at Excelsior she learned how to process through her trauma, manage her self-destructive behaviors and move on from her past. With the help of Excelsior, she said, “I am really happy now”.
The APW and Excelsior
Excelsior is so grateful for the incredible partnership we share with the APW. Not only have they supported our programs financially, but they have banded together to volunteer and directly impact the lives of our girls. From adopting a cottage to support during the holidays, to hosting Halloween drives that bring a touch of playfulness and fun back into their young lives, to meeting larger financial needs like funding our Canine Healers program, the APW has been invaluable to the success of our girls. We are eternally grateful for each and every member of the APW and the Alliance Foundation who have united together to make a difference in the young lives of Excelsior’s girls.