By Amy Woods
The Women of Grace Luncheon will celebrate its 20th anniversary next month by recognizing four female volunteers for their philanthropy.
The 2019 honorees and their nominating charities are Kirsten Blazek, American Association of Caregiving Youth; Laura McCutcheon, Best Foot Forward; Dr. Barbara Golden, Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health; and Jill Weiss, Susan G. Komen Florida.
“We like to acknowledge women who are out in the volunteer world,” honorary co-chairwoman Karen Phillips said. “For many of us, in an era where we weren’t working all the time, that’s how we spent our days.”
Phillips served as the luncheon’s first chairwoman in 2000 and has championed the cause ever since.
From its humble beginnings in Bethesda Hospital’s Clayton Conference Center with catering by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, to a ballroom at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan with a chef-prepared meal, the event has generated nearly $2 million for the Center for Women and Children.
“I’ve been to every single luncheon,” Phillips said. “I am happy that we started to raise an awareness of how much it’s grown over the years.”
Organized by the Bethesda Hospital Foundation, the luncheon’s primary sponsor is The Magnolia Society, a membership of women supporting women, spearheaded by Eileen Augustyn.
“I had a vision of more women participating in funding the women’s and children’s section of the hospital,” Augustyn said.
She recruited one dozen the first year, two dozen the second year and four dozen the year after that, with everyone giving $250 apiece. The donation level later was raised to $500 and eventually $1,000.
“This has gone on to the point where we are the primary sponsor of the Women of Grace luncheon,” Augustyn said. “I was hoping that we would be, and we are.”
Now that she has achieved her goal, she has set another one.
“The goal that I have now is to increase the membership,” Augustyn said. “The more you get involved with the hospital, the more it becomes a part of you, and you want it to get stronger. I just think it’s a sign of the good woman.”
If You Go...
What: Women of Grace Luncheon
When: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 4
Where: Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan
Information: Call 737-7733, Ext. 84428, or visit www.bethesdahospitalfoundation.org.
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