WOW, last night was truly Beautiful: Inside and Out!
Indeed, it was an evening to remember. More than 450 women (and a few very special men) came to celebrate the power of women's philanthropy and volunteering at Choices 2017. It was standing room only! More than 150 women attended Choices for the first time, and we hope that it will become an annual tradition for them, just as it is for so many women in Orlando.
Last night, we brought the community together by honoring eight beautiful women nominated by our local Jewish agencies. The entire audience stood up to honor and cheer them. If you weren't able to attend, you can watch the Women of Choice tribute video online.
Choices is the biggest women's philanthropy event of the year. It's a great party and a chance to see old friends and make new ones. But it's also Federation's biggest fundraising event, and the preliminary results are very encouraging. Stay tuned for a more detailed update!
The make-up mogul Sonia Kashuk impressed us with the story of her life, challenges and accomplishments. We are very grateful to Sonia for agreeing to be our celebrity guest and for donating hundreds of her signature cosmetic bags and other valuable items as giveaways for the attendees.
It was wonderful to see the two groups of "alumnae" of the JWRP Israel trips. Indeed, as Annual Campaign Co-chair Danielle Krise said in her excellent speech, the community now has 40 women who are newly inspired and more involved! As an example, both Choices co-chairs are Israel trip participants.
I must acknowledge several people who made this event such a resounding success:
First of all, the co-chairs Leigh Norber and Heidi Zissman who worked tirelessly to secure corporate sponsorships and raffle items, to Faye Novick for her party-planning know-how, and a huge thank you to the amazing Federation staff -- with special acknowledgment to Office Manager Marisa West for taking supreme care of all the details before, during and after Choices. And a special thank you to Congregation Ohev Shalom for hosting us again this year and for providing a perfect venue for this celebration.
Thank you to Federation President Rhonda Forest for her leadership and encouragement. Here's what Rhonda wrote to me this morning: "What an amazing event! Last night was a huge success from start to finish. ... I only heard positive comments. People loved the program. Numerous first-timers were so enthusiastic when dropping off their pledge cards."
On that note, I look forward to having a quiet Shabbat and to an opportunity to rest and relax.
I wish you a peaceful and restful Shabbat