Star's Corner

Star’s Corner: NAPW Local Chapters Pay It Forward and Give It Back

“It’s not what we say about our blessings; it’s about how we use them. That is the true measure of our Thanksgiving.” –Anonymous

We cannot choose our families, but we can choose our friends. Floating around since the dawn of time, this prolific statement may sound cliché, but it’s oh so true. Although I love my family more than anything and am grateful for their love and support throughout my life, family isn’t always about blood. Family are the friends who accept you for who and what you are. They’re happy for your success and lift you up in times of need… very much like the professional women of NAPW Local Chapters!

Like family, our Local Chapters are the heart and soul of NAPW. Their giving spirits, profound generosity and eagerness to stand up and cheer for each other’s success, while teaming up to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, made this past Thanksgiving truly special.

Let’s take a look at their creatively unique networking events that inspired hope, love and everlasting faith in the kindness of women.

Chicago, IL | Northern Regional Manager and Chapter President Megan Wessels
Giving thanks for their good fortune, great careers and networking success, Megan and her team held a Contest for a Cause, benefiting NAPW Foundation philanthropic partner Dress For Success. Throughout the month of November, two Chicago Chapter members led teams to see which team collected the most clothing donations, with all of the clothing donated to their local Dress For Success.


Pasadena, CA | Chapter President Ellen Chiang
Delectable delights were on the menu as Pasadena cooked up Thanksgiving in culinary style in celebration of each other. Through continued encouragement, friendship and support, Local Chapter members are always there for each other. Giving thanks took place at their local high school where a chef taught them how to prepare various dishes, while they expressed what they were most thankful for.

Augusta, GA | Chapter President Sue Pellerin
Everyone was family this past Thanksgiving as Sue and her team made the people of their local homeless shelter feel like part of their NAPW  family. Each member prepared a delicious holiday dish and brought their own family and friends to join in the special feast.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA | Western Regional Manager and Chapter President Ruth Garcia
To give thanks for each other and appreciate the blessings they received throughout the year, Ruth and her team cooked up a pre-Thanksgiving networking dinner, acknowledging their sisterhood of support and encouragement and celebrating all of their charitable accomplishments, personal achievements and the many professional connections created and cultivated during the year. Understanding that success is a team effort, Team LA also started planning their 2015 Chapter goals.

South Charlotte, NC | Chapter President Monica Wood
Children. Their smiling faces, bright eyes and delightful innocence made Thanksgiving truly memorable for everyone. But, there were some children too ill for Thanksgiving. With giant leaps of faith and love, Monica and her team served up Thanksgiving dinner to the children (and their families) at the local Ronald McDonald House. Thank you, South Charlotte for bringing the love and support necessary to make this a Thanksgiving to remember for so many ill children and their families!

San Diego, CA | Chapter President Rene Reyes
Honoring their US Troops this past Thanksgiving, Rene and her team prepared creative gift boxes at one of their networking meetings to say thank you to the military members of their local Miramar USMC base. It’s important to remember our Troops all year long, especially around the holidays, as many give the ultimate sacrifice for our country! Continuing to pay it forward, Team San Diego created their very own soup kitchen to help feed the homeless in their local community. Way to go with a double dose of giving back!

Merrillville, IN | Chapter President DeAnn Stephens
With an original Fashion Fights Hunger networking shopping event, Team Merrillville burst upon The Courthouse Shops in Crown Point to start their holiday shopping early. Even better, everyone had to bring non-perishable food items to help stock the food pantry at St. Mary Parish. Family, friends and colleagues attended this charitable event, which also included raffles, prizes and lots of fashion fun.


Pembroke Pines, FL | Chapter President Sylvia Doane-Ward
One in eight people in the world go hungry! Outraged, Sylvia and her team decided to do something about it. They collected canned goods and toys for Food For The Poor, whose mission is to uplift the poor in 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries struggling with poverty, hunger and a lack of opportunity. They also discussed the issues of hunger and poverty among the poor, especially children, with guest speaker, Maura Brassil, Executive Director of Business and Corporate Development, Food For The Poor at their Chapter meeting. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of women and girls around the world!


Ocala, FL | Chapter President Lisa Wyatt
Sharing the feast of Thanksgiving with their local community, for the second year in a row, Lisa and her team served up Thanksgiving Basket Give-A-Ways. Specially created for hungry families in need of food, all items in the baskets were donated by NAPW members and various local merchants. Way to go, Ocala!


Kansas City Metro, KS | Chapter President Susan Freeman
On a mission to feed the hungry, Susan and her team collected canned goods for distribution at their local City Union Mission, providing help, hope and healing to the hungry and homeless in the Kansas City Metro area. With a monthly meeting focusing on their life blessings, all Chapter members celebrated their passions, achievements and valuable connections made throughout the past year.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, FL | Chapter President Maurie Lung
A full plate of outstanding networking events this past Thanksgiving included a meeting featuring Lisa Elee Trunzo, founder of Hannah’s Homeless; special guest speaker, Lynn Schumacher, presenting Networking: the Process and Development of Nurturing Relationships and how building these relationships is key to your personal and professional success; and everyone donated clothing and accessories for Dress For Success so that women in need have the opportunity to interview for a new job and achieve their own success.

Gulf Coast, MS | Chapter President Adilah Curry
To celebrate the spirit of giving and all things blessed and beautiful about each other, Team Gulf Coast’s dinner was one part feast-ival and one part awards ceremony, honoring the professional women from businesses and organizations in their local community. These “unsung she-roes” received awards to say thank you for inspiring all women to achieve their own success.

Orland Park, IL | Chapter President Helen Morgan
With healing hearts, Helen and her team addressed the issue of the holidays being a time of sorrow for some people. Their special networking meeting focused on “Grief and the Holidays,” featuring special guest speaker and grief coach, JoAnn Michalik, who believes that grief happens and you must honor your emotions to… Heal Your Heart. NAPW members also paid it forward by dedicating a day of service to those in need, and everyone donated $10 to their local food pantry so that others could enjoy their very own Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you, Orland Park!

Philadelphia, PA | Chapter President Deanna Ransom
This Thanksgiving, hope reigned supreme with Deanna and her team. Their monthly networking meeting featured the Executive Director of the Bringing Hope Home Foundation, providing unexpected amazingness for families with cancer. Contributing their own “expected” amazingness, they adopted a family who received donations from their gift donation drive, allowing families taking care of cancer patients to enjoy a very special Thanksgiving together. Outstanding!

Essex County, NJ | Chapter President Christy Oliver-Hawley
Baby, it’s cold outside! So, Team Essex County warmed the souls of families in need by collecting canned goods and gently used clothing and coats that were delivered to the Willing Heart Community Care Center in Newark, NJ.

Putnam County, NY | Chapter President Marna Proscia
Green was the color of Thanksgiving this year as Team Putnam County hosted a networking “Green Panel.” Comprised of business owners whose organizations focus on eco-friendly initiatives, the panel educated everyone about why environmentally friendly cleaning products and alternative energy sources are important in our world and in our homes. Then they created gift baskets filled with all the fixins needed to prepare Thanksgiving dinner and donated them to the Putnam County Community Action program for distribution to low-income families.


Westchester County, NY | Chapter President Crystal Cutler
Payin’ it forward again and again and again, Crystal and her team created an off-the-charts monthly networking meeting with amazing celebrations of thanks. Highlights included a “Celebrate One Another” Holiday Fair, an inspirational presentation, speed networking, professional photo opportunities, heart-healthy refreshments and a “Pay It Forward” Turkey Fundraiser to benefit The Food Bank of Westchester. Everyone gave thanks for the blessings of the year and honored each other for their dedication, support and teamwork in achieving their Chapter goals. Way to go, Westchester County!

Thank you to all NAPW Local Chapters for giving as good as you get… and even better… this past Thanksgiving AND every day of the year!

What do you do to give back to those less fortunate? How do you celebrate the blessings in your life? Share your comments below.


Megan Bozzuto

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