Women opening their purses to buy more purses sounds like a typical day in Atlanta, but at 6pm on Tuesday October 16 at the Georgia Aquarium, these bags will benefit the YWCA of Greater Atlanta’s Women in Transition program at the ninth annual Open Your Purse Fundraiser. WIT is designed to assist women who are transitioning from homelessness. Emily Ellison, CEO of the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, says the program is unique in many ways.
“At any given time there are 3000 women in the Atlanta area that are homeless who have children,” Ellison says. “What differentiates us from other shelters is we are the only shelter that takes women with large families and the only shelter that takes teenage boys with their mothers.”
The WIT program helps women navigate social services and provides them with mentoring, job training, and financial literacy to help them manage their households once they are fully independent. Ellison says it is for women who have somehow found themselves in a position with no job, no home and no safety net.
“It’s good because you’re not funding an emergency, but giving a hand up,” Ellison explains. “It’s giving women training, access to resources, job interview skills, food, a clean safe place to live while they’re getting on their feet. It is life altering.”
WIT was established in 1987 as a 90 day to six month program to guide women into self-sufficiency. The Open Your Purse Fundraiser is presented by Belk and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The event gives women of Atlanta a chance to have a fun night out all while giving to a worthy cause. This year, Ellison says there are about 400 people expected to attend and bid on more than 200 purses and other auction items including two business class tickets to Hawaii courtesy of Delta Airlines. Belk donated 100 purses and many of the remaining bags were donated by celebrities and board members, and committee members. Bags include Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada and more. Bags include a Gucci purse donated by Shirley Strawberry from The Steve Harvey Morning Show, a Louis Vuitton bag donated by Lucille O’Neal, mother of Shaquille O’Neal, and two clutches donated by actress Demetria McKinney among others.
The co-chairs for the event are Charmaine Ward and Kristin Hannah with honorary co-chairs HGTV Property Virgins host and radio personality Egypt Sherrod and author Becky Blalock. The evening includes a live auction, silent auction, dinner and dancing. Ellison describes it as guilt free shopping.
“It’s a really fun evening and a way to address a big concern in our city,” Ellison explains. “It is one way the YWCA serves, the underserved and underestimated.”
Tuesday October 16
Open Your Purse
$200 per person
For more information go to YWCA of Greater Atlanta