10. Eat, Drink and…Be Awesome!
It’s a Tuesday evening in February and that means yet another lovely sunset outside the window of the beautiful Courthouse in downtown Georgetown, TX. I am sipping a glass of white wine, eating strawberries and some sort of ridiculously rich ‘Death By Chocolate’ cookie, and trying to figure out how far I’ll have to walk to burn off all the calories if I eat one of everything from the amazing spread on the ‘Chocolate’ table. This is the ‘Wine, Women, Chocolate & Giving’ event sponsored by Seeds of Strength, a group of local Georgetown women whose motto is ‘Women Coming Together to Make a Difference!’
My friend Sherry Ellis is a member of ‘Seeds’ and she invited me to tag along to this yummy and fun event because she knows I am interested in learning more about the cool things happening in the community. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’m glad I went along anyway. Not only were the food and wine delicious, but more importantly, I met so many fascinating and kind ladies who are, through the power of collective giving, doing some real good in the world…and I think we need alot more of that, don’t we?!
Seeds of Strength started in 2009 with just a small group of Georgetown women who joined together to form a ‘Giving Circle’, which allows individuals to come together, combine their dollars in a shared fund, decide collectively where to give the money, and learn about their community and philanthropy. Seeds member Leslie Ford says, “I joined because I liked the idea of the power in collective giving. We’ve had so much more impact on the community than we would as individuals giving on our own!”
When Seeds of Strength started out, there were 55 members who were required to give $1000 each to join. Seeds awarded their first grants in 2010, totaling $55,000. Then, in order to encourage more women to become involved, they began allowing smaller sub-groups of 4 people giving $250 each to join as well. Membership is now up to 223 people and growing every day! In 2016, they awarded $154,000 to 7 nonprofit organizations. So far, SOS has awarded at total of $813,000 in grants to worthy causes like the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center, the Georgetown Palace Theater, Brookwood in Georgetown, and Capital Idea. Nice work, ladies!
Carol Burke, who’s been a Seeds member since it started in 2009, used to work as a family law attorney and says this group is particularly important to her because “Some of us lived through a time when women were discriminated against much more so than today. I love that we are able to come together and help so many women and children through groups like The Boys & Girls Club, Hope Alliance, and CASA.” Gwen May, who moved to the area from Dallas, joined Seeds because “I was interested in learning about the community and I liked what this group was doing.” She is now the group’s webmaster.
Chair of the Giving Circle, Linda Foster-Smith, says she’d “love to get the total grant money up to 1 million dollars by the end of this year.” From the looks of the turnout at this event, I am pretty sure the ladies at Seeds of Strength are well on their way to making that wish a reality! They certainly know how to throw a lovely party. How can you go wrong with wine, chocolate…and some pretty swanky raffle prizes, too?! But, I think these wonderful women get their real pleasure from the good that they are able to do together. Leslie Ford says “I get so much more out of this organization than I give!”
Seeds of Strength holds several Annual Membership Events throughout the year. In addition to the Wine & Chocolate Party, there’s a September Luncheon, a Lifelong Learning Event in October, a Holiday Tea in December, and the Finalists Presentation and Grantee Awards Ceremony later in Spring. If you’d like to get involved, just go to the Seeds of Strength website.