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Fundraiser for women’s center set for Feb. 22 with designer purses and sunglasses

February 12, 2019

The Montgomery County Women’s Center’s annual “Open Your Purse for Change” event is set for next week. The event is the organization’s largest fundraiser and helps support the group’s work of assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Allyson Seder, the center’s vice chairman of the Board, started the event six years ago when she was asked to join the board.

“Before I joined the board, I wanted to learn more about the organization so I asked if I could tour the shelter. I was really impressed,” Seder said of the center. She hadn’t expected it to be an uplifting place filled with hope.

One of the stops on the tour was the center’s store, where shelter residents and their children can receive new clothes and shoes — things that they may have left behind when fleeing a dangerous situation.

“When I thought about that, I clutched my purse. I couldn’t imagine leaving (like that),” Seder said.

From that, an idea was born. Seder started collecting handbags and having new ones donated to begin the event and to raise money for the center.

This year’s event is scheduled for Feb. 22 at The Woodlands Country Club’s Legacy Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person, but there are also sponsorship opportunities available. This year’s goal is to raise $250,000 for the center.

“I’m just one person, but this idea was so big in my heart and it just grew. It’s empowering that I could have started something that could make a difference,” said Seder, who chairs the event with Shirelle Chimenti and Angie Signorelli.

At the event, there will be a silent auction of new and gently used handbags and designer sunglasses. The centerpieces of the tables, a cake that looks like a designer handbag, ties into the theme. An inspirational speaker will also give their testimony about surviving domestic or sexual abuse.

“They’ll talk about their struggle and how they overcame everything. It’s an uplifting and powerful story,” Seder said.

One of her favorite parts of the event are the times when women come up to her and tell her that they gained the courage to leave their abuser or get help because of organizations like the center.

“That’s the best reward I could have ever asked for. There are so many (women) in our own community—abuse doesn’t discriminate,” Seder said.

It’s also important, Seder said, for community members to know what the center does for the community in terms of providing shelter but also counseling to help women work through their situation. The center offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter, transitional housing, advocacy, counseling, legal services and community outreach.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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