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Power of the Purse
Power of the Purse 3
Carissa Phelps, author of "Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets", will be the keynote speaker at the Womens Leadership Councils seventh Power of the Purse Luncheon. - photo by Photo Contributed

This year marks the Women’s Leadership Council’s seventh Power of the Purse Luncheon. An annual event that brings together like-minded women in the community, this year’s luncheon will once again focus on providing support to women and children in crisis.

WLC, a group of United Way of Stanislaus County, brings together business women and those who are philanthropically-minded for an annual luncheon in order to strengthen the lives of others in the community, specifically those of women and children. What once started out as one woman hosting others in her home in order to raise funds for nonprofits has now evolved into an organized event that attracted over seven hundred women just last year.

“We want to bring to light and mind the really critical issues,” community and donor relations specialist Sarah Jamieson said. “We want to see what we can do to create a better life for women in the community.”

Each year, WLC chooses its keynote speaker based on the issues they believe are applicable to the community at large. This year WLC selected Carissa Phelps, whose story highlights the prominence of sex trafficking in the area.  Now a successful attorney and the author of "Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets", Phelps will share her story about how she overcame a life of drugs, sex trafficking, and other hardships in the central valley.

Guests will be given the opportunity to network with other women who share the same philanthropic vision of helping others and identify with people who are like minded. Participants are also encouraged to purchase raffle tickets for a selection of designer bags that have been donated by businesses and individuals in the community, including handbags from Kate Spade and Louis Vuitton.

Last year, the Power of the Purse Luncheon raised an estimated $32,000, a portion of which went towards providing Christmas presents to the Center for Human Services’ Pathways program, a transitional living facility for emancipated minors and adults. Considering items that Pathways’ participants either wanted or needed, WLC donated everything from headphones to bed sheets. With the money raised from this year’s event, WLC will benefit another local individual or organization.

 “It really is a nice breath of fresh air to stand in a room with over 100 women who share the same goal of helping people,” Jamieson said. “We all want to see what we can do to create a better life for women in the community.”

This year’s event will be held on Sept. 17 at the Gallo Center of the Arts in Modesto. For more information on tickets, visit