Last year, our Women United Luncheon was the last in-person event we hosted at Heart of Florida United Way. We heard Bonnie St. John’s powerful message of getting back up when we have fallen, and that the difference between winners and losers is how fast you pick yourself up and get back to work. We never expected to be under quarantine just weeks later. Yet, our community needed us, so we picked ourselves up and began planning our first ever Virtual Women United Luncheon.
We know the past year has been challenging for our community, our friends and family members. That constant fear and uncertainty has plagued us as we worked from home, protected our families, and worried when things would be back to normal. This prompted us to do more than just pick ourselves up. After a year of hardships, we needed to be motivated to push through these trying times and help our sisters and brothers who may be struggling and experiencing the worst. Lisa Nichols, this year’s keynote speaker, gave us all that she had and more. She inspired us to share from our soul, leave everything on the table, and be strong, TONKA STRONG!
And we did just that.
Leading the Way
Hosted by Orlando Health and led by our two wonderful Women United Luncheon Co-Chairs, Tracey Powell, The Walt Disney Company, and Anne-Marie Hayward, Coached by Design, we set out to bring our guests the same experience they have come to expect for the past 13 years, even in a virtual environment. Guests had an opportunity to hop from table to table to network with friends and colleagues in our virtual ballroom. Our luncheon welcomed nearly 400 guests from Central Florida and beyond, including Lisa Nichols, who joined us safely from her home in the Bahamas.
Sponsors were able to speak directly with guests and feature branded content in virtual booths. DoorDash donated a percentage of every order made during the luncheon to Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) families in Central Florida. Lisa offered an interactive question and answer session in which guests had the opportunity to speak directly with her on our virtual “stage”. In total, Women United helped raise over $125,000 for our community.
Lisa Nichols captivated the audience from the moment she said, “Hello everyone!” Flanked by two large bright colorful paintings, she was a beacon of hope and positive energy that felt like she was standing beside us, pouring into us the secrets we needed to hear. “I am good enough. I am brave enough. I can do this,” Lisa also reminded us to pour into others from our overflow, to give unconditionally to help others thrive. This overflow is what it means to LIVE UNITED.
Finally, before her time was up, she reminded us to be strong, to be TONKA strong. That there will be times when we get picked up and dropped and have to keep moving forward. Picked up, dropped, “Vroom,” keep moving. Picked up, dropped, “Vroom,” keep moving.
As mothers, daughters, sisters, parents, and professional women in Central Florida, we have all experienced similar stories as Lisa’s. We know what it is like to give from our overflow, leaving it all on the table, questioning our worth, “Are we good enough? Are we brave enough? Can I do this?” Through her wisdom, we all found the answers we needed to hear, a resounding, “Yes, we are brave enough, we are strong enough.” We can come together to work on pressing issues in our community, even if virtually, because we always find a way. We are WOMEN UNITED.