Philanthropy is an impressive virtue. Donating one's time, money, resources or energy to improve someone else's quality of life is a worthwhile investment. And typically, the reward is just that: a good feeling from having contributed. Like wisdom says, "It's better to give than to receive."
That's why it's a lovely surprise when a charitable event also gives something back to the giver. It's an even better surprise when the charitable event gives participants the opportunity to partake in two fun leisurely activities: drinking delicious wine and shopping for quality (and sexy) shoes.
While it may seem ridiculous that a person could help citizens of Tulsa by stocking up on footwear and becoming a wine connoisseur, that's exactly what Tulsa's YWCA is doing this year.
The third annual Wine, Women and Shoes event starts during the second weekend in June, giving ladies (and any interested gentlemen) the opportunity for a good time and possibly some good shoes, all while giving back to women in the community.
Wine, Women and Shoes is a national event that began in 2005 when Elaine Honig of Honig Wines "attended a typical fundraiser with girlfriends when she lamented that a fundraiser should have shoes and wine and help women."
The event began in Napa Valley and proved so successful that Honig spread Wine, Women and Shoes throughout the country. In its first two years, the event raised $3.4 million for women's charities. Three years ago, the event made its way to Tulsa, hosted by YWCA of Tulsa.
In Tulsa, the three-day event, touted as a "celebration of women designed to benefit women's causes while educating patrons about wine" starts on Thursday, June 11 with Wine and Shoe Pairing 101.
Taking place at Pearl Gallery, 1201 E. 3rd St., the class features vintners comparing shoes and wine. The tasting's lighthearted approach was initially fostered by Honig. Citing an example, "Honig compares 'silver sandals to a racy, metallic and versatile Sauvignon Blanc and classic pumps to Cabernet Sauvignon where the backbone of tannin supports the wine just as the heel supports the shoes."
Robin Cook, the YWCA's director of marketing and special events, noted that the wines served at all of the events normally sell between $60 and $100.
More than just enjoying a fine happy hour, participants of the first night of events can also experience the exhibit at the Pearl Gallery. Cook said that the works of art on display will also be auctioned off, with part of the proceeds benefiting the event. Wine and Shoe Pairing 101 will be from 5:30-7:30pm and costs $40 per person.
The following night, Friday, June 12 will showcase "A Taste of Wine Country." Festivities will be held in three individual homes, those of Bryan Close, Paula Marshall (this year's Wine, Women and Shoes Honorary Chair) and Marla and Steve Bradshaw.
Participants who purchase a ticket for $150 per person will be assigned one of the homes. Local chefs will prepare food created specifically to pair with the wines served. Throughout the course of the three-day event, ten Napa Valley vintners will share their creations, including Adi Coqurerelle Family Wine Estates, King Estate, Hahn Family Estate, just to name a handful.
Local wine retailers also participate.
In addition to Friday night's food, wine and company, participants can bid on live auction items. Cook said that two of the auction items include a girl's trip to Napa Valley and the opportunity to stay in a house on Grand Lake and enjoy a wine tasting.
The last day of the Wine, Women and Shoes event weekend includes a luncheon, fashion show and marketplace on June 13 at the Tulsa Renaissance Hotel, 6808 S. 107th E. Ave. From 11:30am-3pm, visitors can snack, chat and drink the spirits created by ten Napa Valley vintners. There are also opportunities for shopping. The latest styles of shoes and accessories will be available from local retailers in the Wine, Women and Shoes marketplace. Boutiques and shoe retailers like Flirt, The Glass Slipper, J. Cole Shoes, Terri's, Miss Jackson's, Moxie, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Angeleigh Anastasio will be set up for the marketplace.
Beyond shoes, accessories from Nattie Bleu and Cunningham Fine Jewelry will also be featured. Twenty percent of all proceeds made from the marketplace will be donated to the YWCA of Tulsa.
There is also the footwear fashion show. The fashion show, emceed by Fox 23's Chera Kimiko, is what Cook is most enthusiastic about. Ten of the models participating in the fashion show are high school sophomores from the YWCA's "Becoming a Professional Woman" program. This program is "for young girls that are successful in high school but do not have the support or parental guidance to encourage and support them to further their education and attend college ... The successful program matches young women with professional women that serve as mentors."
With YWCA's slogan being, "Eliminating racism. Empowering women," the non-profit initially began by mentoring African American girls and now mentors Hispanic young women as well.
In addition to helping with the event, these young women receive a makeover and walk the runway. Other models participating in the fashion show will be two senior citizens, local community leaders and YCWA board members. Tickets for the luncheon, fashion show and marketplace are $75 per person.
This fun event is also opportunity to give back to a local organization that supports Tulsa women. Its Web site boasts, "For more than 90 years, the YWCA Tulsa has worked to empower and unite women of all ages through programs that create self-sufficiency, enrich families and promote racial justice. The YWCA Tulsa is a cornerstone of community life."
Its benefits enrich the lives of women and their families, by providing "high quality, affordable child care for working families", child development programs (like the Becoming a Young Professional Woman), opportunities for "health, wellness and fitness education," programs for the community's senior citizens and "community building programs in east and north Tulsa."
The money earned at events like Wine, Women and Shoes will not be handed to nameless faces, but the citizens of Tulsa.
Although some may think that enjoying a nice glass of wine while shopping for something as fun as shoes would be a guilty, selfish pleasure, the Wine, Women and Shoes event proves that philanthropy, too, can be fun and fulfilling.
I've heard that even in economic hardship, it's still important to give back to the community and continue to remain charitable. To find out more information about YWCA Tulsa, the Wine, Women and Shoes 2009 event or to purchase tickets, visit www.ywcaoftulsa.org.
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