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Fundraiser showcases fashion, communitys leading ladies
Shirley Jones strolls the catwalk with a new outfit at the Chattahoochee Country Club during a fashion show at the annual Power of the Purse fundraising event for WomenSource.

Fashion week starts a few days early for a few lucky women able to attend tonight’s eighth annual Power of the Purse.

Ladies from all walks of life are getting together today for the event that only comes around once a year at the Chattahoochee Country Club, 3000 Club Drive, Gainesville.

Anyone can come to the WomenSource event, not just members of the organization; however, tickets are selling out fast and only $50 individual tickets are still up for grabs. For next year’s event, program coordinator Kim Smith suggested buying tickets at least 45 days in advance to secure your spot.

Those attending can purchase items at the vendor marketplace, buy raffle tickets and enjoy a dinner buffet before the show at 5:30 p.m. The fashion show will begin by 7 p.m.

Getting glammed up for a good cause is always fun, but the purpose of this event is beneficial for women everywhere.

“This is an opportunity to recognize the women of Northeast Georgia,” Valerie Simmons-Walston said.

Simmons-Walston is the president and board chairwoman of WomenSource and the dean of students at Brenau University. She has been a part of WomenSource for the past four years, but this is her first year as president.

All funds raised from the event provide local women with educational programs in areas like health, finance and legal issues, and other WomenSource events.

By setting aside body image for a day and focusing on the purpose of the event, these women will send an important message of volunteerism and philanthropy to younger generations and other women.

“The purpose of the event is to recognize women in the community who have contributed significant time or community service,” Simmons-Walston said. “People who have done extraordinary things to make this community what it is.”

Fashion week, take notice.

Unlike the real modeling world, this event features women of all shapes and sizes from all across Northeast Georgia, strutting their stuff in the latest fashions from local retailers and department stores like Belk.

Seventeen models will walk the runway of the Chattahoochee Country Club, but these models aren’t your average supermodel.

Community heroes like Haydeé Anderson, Holly and Addi Bales, Angie Caton, Daphne David, Katie B. Davis, Christie Grice, Amanda Lammers, Brenda Martin, Donna Mayo, Jennifer McCall, Lindsey McCamy, Ann Nixon, Marcia Price, Wanda Vance, Brandee Thomas and Jody Wall will be walking the catwalk.

“There are several community heroes who are going to be recognized this year who would have not been otherwise recognized. Unsung heroes who do a lot of things behind-the-scenes,” Simmons-Walston said.

From attorneys to an oncology nurse, each model represents an area of women’s philanthropy with their volunteerism efforts or career choices.

“We have been in contact with several vendors in the area. What they do is they allow us to keep the clothes for the community hero fashion show part of the event, and then those clothes have to be given back immediately after the event is over,” Simmons-Walston said.

“We have built a relationship with them over the years. We do not purchase them, but they are available for purchase.”

Heroes don’t always wear capes; sometimes they wear Belk, The Bradford Pair, CAbi-Carol Anderson by Invitation, Christopher’s, Dress Up Boutique, Elizabeth’s Clothing Company, ETCETERA-Magnolia Proper, Gateway Thrift Stores, J.R. Crider’s, Mena Mae Children’s Boutique and Saul’s.

In order to help facilitate the needs of the community, United Way of Hall County commissioned a community needs assessment, which led to the formation of WomenSource.

WomenSource is a community organization that reaches out to women of all ages, backgrounds, races and socioeconomic levels in order to help them achieve success in their personal and professional lives.

WomenSource also serves as a network of resources for women. It’s a place for building friendships or relationships, and a way to network among professional women.

“Although it’s not a business networking organization, that’s exactly what happens,” Simmons-Walston said.

“She needs to get her taxes done, so she needs an accountant. She needs some advice because she’s going through a divorce, there are attorneys there. Or, she might be looking for another job, so maybe she needs someone to look at her resume,” she said.

“We get together, we discuss whatever our needs are, and whatever they need is, there is a woman at WomenSource who is an expert in that area.”

Brenau University, Longstreet Clinic and North Georgia Community Foundation teamed up to sponsor this year’s fashion show, and all of WomenSource’s events are only made possible by fundraisers, grants, memberships and sponsors.

For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, check out the WomenSource website at, email, or call 770-503-9060.