YWCA’s In the Company of Women Luncheon Encourages and Inspires

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Staff Writer – Photography by Picture Bakery

On Tuesday, April 25th, hundreds of men and women gathered in downtown San Diego for the YWCA’s “In the Company of Women” luncheon, celebrating the strength, courage and spirit of women and their extraordinary achievements.  For the last 19 years, this benefit luncheon and tribute to women and industry awards, has served as a fundraiser and tool to raise awareness about domestic violence and the effects it has on its victims and their families. “Annually, more than 8,400 individuals are serviced through the organization’s gender inclusive programs, offering safe housing, case management, therapeutic counseling, legal support, housing assistance, employment development, financial literacy training and children’s and youth services,” according to the organization’s literature.

Hosted by Lynda Martin, the program opened acknowledging the accomplishments of (19) women who have contributed to those around them as visionaries, humanitarians, and mentors. The honorees included: Dr. Amy Adome of Sharp Healthcare, Dorothy Amundson or Cavignac & Associates, Marianne Barth  of Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, Councilwoman Barbara Bry of District 1, Rachel Collins of Pardee Homes, Kathy Crocket of Torrey Pines Bank, Joyce Glazer who is a philanthropist and media consultant, Patricia Hill of UTC Aerospace Systems – Aerostructures, Kimberly Howard of Solar Turbines Incorporated, Jaime Howe-Stolis of Bill Howe Family and Companies, Cecilia Kucharski of Balfour Beatty Construction, Jennifer Litwak of Housing on Merit, Traci Mizogucki of Deloitte, Barbara Moreno of the San Diego Convention Center, Tina Knight of Hapa Yoga, Virginia Rodee of the University of San Diego, Kathy Russo of the University of California, San Diego, Teresa Schrader of Solar Turbines Incorporated and Deborah Williams of BAE Systems. The Mary Lou Washatka Award for Dedication was given to Sara F. Moser for her activism and philanthropy.

They keynote of the afternoon was the incomparable Grammy Award winning singer, activist and humanitarian, Ms. Angelique Kidjo. During her energetic combined delivery of singing and encouraging, Kidjo shared what life was like for her as a child, and the things that ushered her into being the woman that she is today. Hailing from Benin in West Africa, born into a family of ten, Kidjo began performing with her mother’s theatre troupe at the age of six years old, learning the business of theatrics, then singing and instruments.  With both her parents and grandmothers nurturing her every step of the way, Kidjo says that her father was her compass. “He was a great believer in the freedom of women and men… [and he believed that] if we know what is good we should act on it.”

She left her country due to a communist takeover, and with her roots deep in what she was taught as a child, she fled with her voice, in which she used to sing, inspire, and fight for what is right.  As one of The Guardian’s 100 most inspiring women in the world, Kidjo speaks out for human rights and gender equality as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. With a dozen albums and three Grammy’s under her belt, Kidjo has topped the Billboard Charts and sold out Carnegie Hall.

Founded in 1908, the “YWCA of San Diego County empowers women, men and children to break the cycles of domestic violence and homelessness and achieve self-sufficiency. The organization is committed to helping individuals and families secure immediate safety and stability, recover from trauma and abuse, improve their economic status, obtain permanent housing, and achieve lasting independence.” For more information on the YWCA please visit www.ywcasandiego.org or call (619) 239-0355.

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