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Women in Partnership for Progress luncheon raises money for scholarships

By ErinPradia
Dec. 10, 2011 at 6:10 a.m.
Updated Dec. 11, 2011 at 6:11 a.m.

Community members Elinor Gaskin, right, and Barbara Williams  take a quick peek at auction items before the Women in Partnership for Progress luncheon begins.

Some members of the community bidding on donated items Saturday morning at the 46th annual charity luncheon for the Women in Partnership for Progress got a little feisty.

"I ain't playin' with you. Bring it on!" Hazel Wilson, of Houston, challenged her competitors as she announced her final bid for a bamboo Christmas angel during the auction. "It's all for the kids, all for the kids."

Each of the 16 members of WIPP donated two items for the auction at One O'Connor Plaza, which was open to the public.

All proceeds from the auction and the raffle support the scholarships that WIPP gives to students wanting to attend college.

"We are to be commended because we showed restraint," WIPP President Deborah Branch said, comforting the Rev. Fred Hobbs, of Mount Nebo Baptist Church, as contenders graciously conceded to Wilson in the heated auction over the Christmas decoration.

The members of WIPP come from a variety of professional backgrounds, pay dues and meet once a month in members' homes.

"We enjoy each other's company. It's kind of like a band of sisters who share and make a difference in the community," Branch said. "The focus of the organization is to assist children who are in school and wanting to go to college. This brunch funds our scholarships."

For the past two years WIPP has awarded three $500 scholarships to children from various ethnic and social backgrounds. In previous years, they have awarded two $500 scholarships.

"We want to reach out especially to students who are at-risk," said Ileen Foley, who has a doctorate in education and has been a member of WIPP for 30 years. "We also make other contributions to the community through donations to organizations such as Mid-Coast Women's Crisis Center, Boys and Girl's Club and Hospice, among others."

In addition to scholarships and donations to local organizations, WIPP sponsors an educational program for students each year, which is publicized through local churches and schools.

"We take kids to local colleges so they can see what it's like," said Carol Tippins who has been a member of WIPP for 20 years. "For me WIPP is a point of community outreach. I see us as a bridge or a liaison for local youths, so they are aware of what reality is like."

Members of WIPP try to pass on their life experiences to the youths as well, Tippins said.

Educational programs sponsored by WIPP bring in experts from the community and cover topics such as the dangers of bullying and how to be safe on Facebook.

"We talk about finances - why you shouldn't spend what you don't have - and the need to save," Branch said. "We want children to know early on what life is like, not after they decided they don't want to go to college or work hard in middle school."

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