Inspiration Tea raises awareness of local shelters while collecting donations

November 10, 2018

The fashion statements were big, bold and colorful at the Women’s Leadership Council’s third annual Inspiration Tea on Friday.

Women wearing hats decorated with silk flowers, feathers, ribbons and even artificial butterflies filled the Community Room at Aiken Electric Cooperative’s headquarters.

“I think we’re stylin’ today,” said United Way of Aiken County President Sharon Rodgers as she welcomed attendees to the lunchtime event.

One of the purposes of the Inspiration Tea was to raise awareness of shelters operated by the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, Mental Health America of Aiken County, Helping Hands and the Salvation Army of Aiken.

“Without those agencies, the people they serve would not have proper care and would not become better citizens,” said Leadership Council Chairwoman Stephanie Franklin. “They provide wonderful services, but they have a lot of needs.”

And meeting some of those needs was another reason why the Leadership Council held the Inspiration Tea.

The organization provided a list of suggested donations to the women it invited. This year the items requested included pots and pans, rolls of toilet paper and paper towels, napkins, plastic cups and diapers.

In addition, several women spoke about the assistance they had received from local shelters.

They included Carrie Walker and Carolyn Creveling.

After losing her job and becoming homeless earlier this year, Walker said she was “living a life of quiet desperation” and suffering from depression before she found “stability and a place to reflect” at Mental Health America’s Nurture Home.

She called the facility’s program “one of the best things that has happened to me in my life.”

Walker also announced she was getting ready to move out of Nurture Home and become self-sufficient again.

“I am happy to say that I am no longer depressed,” she said. “I look forward to being able to advocate for others in similar situations and tell my story.”

Creveling, who was a victim of domestic abuse, turned to the Cumbee Center during her time of trouble.

“They brought me in, and they have counseled me,” she said. “They are wonderful women who gave up their time for me. And now, I can sincerely say, that I am on the road to recovery. I have learned to make better choices and put myself in safer situations.”

Also during the Inspiration Tea, there was a presentation of a proclamation from Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon and Aiken City Council that recognized the work of the Leadership Council, which is affiliated with the United Way.

The document also declared that Friday was “a Day of Inspiration” and encouraged women to “inspire each other and work together to change lives.”

Osbon and City Council members Gail Diggs, who is the Mayor Pro Tempore, and Andrea Gregory participated in the ceremony.

Ladonna Armstrong of Aiken Hattery and Sissy Brodie spoke about hats, and Brodie offered tips on how to select and wear them.

In addition, some of Armstrong’s creations were available for purchase. Franklin said 50 percent of the proceeds would go to the Leadership Council.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Bechtel, South State Bank, Jacobs, Savannah River Remediation and Aiken Electric Cooperative were the Inspiration Tea’s sponsors.

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