Celebration of Womanhood 2015

Healthy Women Are Leaders and Super Achievers! 

Enthusiasm was in the air as hundreds of teen girls, ages 13-17, starting filing into the Renaissance Hotel last Saturday (May 30th) to attend the United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC) - Celebration of Womanhood Conference.  

Highlights of the day included keynote speakers, Jennifer Velez, Senior Vice President, Barnabas Health, and Kym Hampton, WNBA Basketball Legend of the New York Liberty team.  

Ms. Velez opened the day with words of encouragement for the nearly 300 girls in attendance, citing that “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in mind and body and pursuing your dreams go hand in hand for women.”   Velez was formerly the longest-serving Human Services Commissioner for the State of New Jersey.

Ms. Hampton led the afternoon luncheon keynote with the national anthem showing off her many talents as not only an athlete but as a singer and talented motivational speaker.  Hampton encouraged the girls with words of wisdom, “A good education is very important and when paired with confidence, one has the tools to go far. We were all created with our own unique DNA, therefore created to SHINE as ourselves! Keep an open mind and take advantage of opportunities to grow. ”  Ms. Hampton, an All-star power forward/center with the WNBA NY Liberty, also played 12 years in the European league thus completing a 15-year professional career.

The theme for the day was “Healthy Women Are Leaders and Super Achievers,” where healthy breakfast and lunch foods were incorporated into the menu and mentors and girls participated in two sessions of challenging, yet fun, Zumba classes.  

The afternoon keynote speaker was Makeba Green.  Serving as a great example as a young achiever, Makeba pursued her dream to open her own photography business at a young age and later pursued her other dream of becoming a lawyer. Her inspiration came not only from friends and family but from the various programs she attended throughout her childhood and adolescent years. She often states that these positive outlets showed her that her dream of becoming a business owner at a young age wasn’t as farfetched as many people believed it to be.

“It was amazing to see every girl get up and dance. And they also got a chance to learn from some great workshop presenters. We were very pleased with the results of the day,” stated Debbie Ann Anderson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, who also served as emcee for the day.

For the 6th consecutive year, UWGUC was the recipient of the 2014-2015 Annual Celebration of Womanhood Grant from the NJ Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (JJDP) Committee, administered by the NJ Juvenile Justice Commission.  The conference was FREE for the girls, who traveled from NJ counties including, Atlantic, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Union.   

Prior to the conference, UWGUC, local high schools and partner agencies recruited over 40 young girls to assist in planning, building and executing the conference. During the pre-conference planning sessions, the JFA’s put their leadership skills to work and developed the workshop themes.  Mentors then helped locate panelist and presenters for the conference themes and workshops.

The UWGUC staff would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our volunteers, mentors and presenters who worked so hard to make the conference a complete success.  Workshops and presenters  #No Filter On My Selfie by Dorothy Ward; Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You by Laura Dello Russo; Be Healthy By Choice, Not By Chance! by Dr. Ginja Massey; Why Isn't Everyone like Me? Understanding the Challenges of Living in A Diverse Community by Tracy Cooper; Don't Be Cooked in The Pressure Cooker of Peer Pressure by Shalena Broaster; Dream Big, Dance Hard! by Patricia Bridges; Managing My Emoticons by Saby Cevallos; Show R.E.S.P.E.C.T, You Are Worth It! by Charlotte Roberson; Talk Isn't Cheap, The Power of Your Words by Alycia Banks; The Colors of My Life by Tracy Saia; The Year is 2030, Yikes! by Jodi Burroughs; In My Dreams (Adult Workshop) by Valerie Pyles.

Also, the UWGUC team extends a special thank you to the conference leadership sponsor, Ernst & Young, and to the other sponsors Comcast, PSEG, Provident Bank and TD Bank.

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