One of the best ways to forge connections is to sit people down to discuss a compelling topic. That’s why the Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund has gotten into the business of sponsoring salons. Bringing women together to gain new insights and exchange ideas, these events provide a chance to meet like-minded people and maybe make new business contacts or friends.
They also help gain more supporters for the Women’s Fund.
Like the intellectual gatherings that started in Europe in the 16th Century, the Women’s Fund’s salons mix pleasant conversation and education. The fun starts at 5 p.m. at a local restaurant, with drinks and light refreshments. Then it’s time for a presentation.
In November 2013, a salon in Binghamton featured a talk by Jennifer Wegmann of Binghamton University on how educated, powerful, loving women can combat the harmful messages the media send to young girls.
In June 2014 in Owego, Liz De Vivo shared the story of her heart and lung transplant to illustrate how each of us can help to create miracles every day.
Women who gathered in Norwich in October 2014 heard Colgate University professor Ellen Percy Kraly discuss her work with the Bwindi Community Hospital in rural Uganda, with the goal of promoting maternal health. (see photo above)
Each salon offers plenty of opportunity for in-depth discussion, says Cory Jacobs, chair of the development committee of the Women’s Fund, which organizes the salons. “Everyone is really focused on the topic at hand. When the subject is women, that impacts all of us personally.” It’s fun to see women who work and socialize in different circles start to bond over the presentation, she says.
The events held in Binghamton usually fill to capacity, as loyal attendees keep coming back for more. At the same time, salons in Owego and Norwich are helping to draw more women, from different communities, into the fold.
The hope is that women who discover the Women’s Fund through a salon will later attend the group’s annual breakfast, Jacobs says. “Then if they take it a step further and volunteer with the Women’s Fund, they can grow and nurture those relationships that started at the salons.”
Getting to know people with similar interests is always rewarding. For women who connect at the salons and other Women’s Fund events, those happy encounters often grow into something even greater—a chance to collaborate toward the goal of enhancing the lives of women and girls in our region.