Women & Children First’s 10th Anniversary Woman of the Year Gala celebrating The Men Behind the Mission was held on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at the Little Rock Marriott. This year, WCF’s signature gala honored the men who have raised the most money for the organization’s event over the past decade: Mr. Chuck Erwin, Founder and President of Erwin & Company, CPA, P.A; Mr. George Gleason, Chairman/CEO of Bank of the Ozarks; Mr. Chip Murphy, Managing Partner of the Murphy Group; and Dr. Ricardo Sotomora, Pediatric Cardiologist and Neonatologist, Private Practice. The 10th Anniversary event raised a record-breaking amount, over $361,000.
The Woman of the Year Gala was first held in 2007, honoring Phillis Brandon, the Founding Editor of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s hugely successful High Profile. The event has grown tremendously and now raises close to a quarter of a million dollars annually for Women & Children First, which is Central Arkansas’ largest shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children. The monies raised at the gala allow Women & Children First to provide safe shelter, food, clothing, legal services, counseling, job training, child care and so much more to the victims of domestic violence and their children.
The 10th Anniversary Gala also celebrated some of the companies and individuals who have loyally supported the event since its inaugural year. The Presenting Sponsors, The Murphy Foundation and Verizon, are both long-time partners of the shelter. Sponsors such as Stone Ward, Tipton & Hurst and Glazer’s of Arkansas are examples of companies who have been a part of the gala since its beginning. Other companies and sponsors recognized for their decade of support were Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Bank of the Ozarks, Deltic Timber, Herren & Susan Hickinbotham, Chip and Cindy Murphy, Regions Insurance/Pure Insurance, and The Janet Jones Company.
This years’ event was chaired by Sandra Storment. Sandra has been involved with WCF for many years and is a current board member. Her dedication and leadership played a key role in making the gala a huge success. Sandra, along with Co-Chair Diana Smithson and the Woman of the Year committee, have been coordinating the event since last spring. Their hard work paid off and helped to produce a fabulous evening. Over 450 guests came together to celebrate and honor the Men Behind the Mission. Craig O’Neill and Dawn Scott from THV 11 co-emceed the event. Tipton & Hurst provided elegant floral arrangements, paired with a unique lighting design from Bylites. Guests enjoyed libations courtesy of Glazer’s of Arkansas and a delicious dinner catered by the Little Rock Marriott.
Caitlyn Mason, Peacekeeper President, along with Cindy Murphy, WCF Board Vice-Chair, presented the annual Peacekeeper Award, which honors a special volunteer who has made a huge difference in the lives of people in the community. This year’s well deserving recipient was Craig O’Neill.
Philip Hydron, WCF board member and domestic violence survivor, shared his powerful story of how he refused to become a statistic in the cycle of domestic violence. After hearing his story and watching an inspiring video produced by M-3 Productions, guests donated over $60,000 including two generous matches from Win Rockefeller and the Gleason Foundation.
Following the presentation of the evening’s Honorees, guests joined the Honorees and their wives on the dance floor and danced to music provided by Dizzy 7.