Michelle’s cheerful email lit up my Monday morning inbox. On behalf of the San Diego County YWCA, she was inviting me to be part of their upcoming fundraising and awards luncheon. A check with my calendar revealed Monday, April 16 was wide open. But what really sealed the deal? Michelle was hoping I’d agree to co-emcee the event with my longtime friend and former colleague, Channel 10 news anchor, Kimberly Hunt. What fun!
An on-stage reunion with my “blond sister” and 10News co-anchor for 17 years was reason enough to accept Michelle’s invitation. But when Kim and I learned more about the power-packed program, we agreed co-hosting the “In the Company of Women” luncheon would be an honor. Kim and I have been part of the YWCA’s mighty mission in the fight against domestic violence in our community for years…but this luncheon was to be extra-special.
This year, the YWCA took the best features of their two signature luncheons and created one spectacular affair. Nearly 1,000 packed the San Diego Marriott Marina ballroom for actress Ashley Judd’s keynote presentation and the honoring of this year’s Tribute to Women and Industry – the YWCA’s annual (TWIN) awards.
Left to right: Heather Finlay, Kimberly Hunt, Ashley Judd, Carol LeBeau and Alison Fleury
Ms. Judd mesmerized the audience with a classy and courageous account of her battle to recover from the horrors of abuse and neglect. With passion and yes, humor, the acclaimed actress bravely described her chaotic and dysfunctional childhood.
Not, however, content to live in the past, Ms. Judd then talked about her 47-day stay at a Texas treatment center….that led her to victory over depression, isolation and co-dependant relationships. Her elegant, articulate and heartfelt presentation brought the entire room to its feet.
Finally, a young lady took the stage and brought the abuse message home…where we live as she slowly described the events leading up to her escape from a life-threatening abusive relationship in San Diego.
As she spoke she was flanked…one at a time – by the individuals who helped her break free. From the 7-11 employee who loaned her cell phone to call for help, to the employer who provided protection as she walked to her car at work, to the YWCA case worker and faithful friends who saw her through the healing process – she was surrounded by nearly 20 strangers and friends who went the distance to save one woman from the cycle of abuse.
Today, that young lady is free of the bondage of an abusive relationship and now works to help raise awareness about domestic violence and the live-saving work of the YWCA.
It was a moving event and a stark reminder about the tragic fact that domestic violence remains a threat in our community. But the YWCA left us with a challenge as well – to be on high alert…ready to take action when we see someone in need.
Hope to see you at next year’s “In the Company of Women” luncheon event!
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.