Detroit’s Female Leaders Partner with Gleaners to Fight Hunger in the D

By: Amber Ogden | March 31, 2015

Hunger is still a tragic reality in some Metro Detroit communities, and over 200 of southeast Michigan’s most powerful female leaders are coming together to help the cause.

The 2nd Annual Women’s Power Happy Hour takes place this evening at The Zenith, a retro-styled restaurant located inside the Fisher Building, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event serves as a launch for Gleaners Community Food Bank’s Million Meal Match Month, a campaign that aims to raise one million meals for hungry local children. The culmination of this project will be on Thursday, April 30, after the 22nd Annual Women’s Power Breakfast takes place on Wednesday, April 22.

“Both events are great opportunities to network with Metro Detroit’s established and up-and-coming women leaders—and it’s for a great cause as well,” Kathleen McCann, CEO of United Road Services and co-chair of the Women’s Power Breakfast, said. “Attendees will have an opportunity to visit with Gleaners staff and volunteers about the immediate and long term suffering associated with childhood hunger and why tackling it now is so important to all of us.”

At the breakfast event on April 22, women whose lives have been touched by hunger and helped by those who cared will share personal stories.

“We hope this motivates additional women to learn more and then become actively involved in ending childhood hunger in southeast Michigan,” McCann said.

The Women’s Power Happy Hour event will feature cocktails, appetizers, socializing and a silent auction. According to McCann, the Power Breakfast will help provide a significant portion of the funds needed to provide one million meals. Additionally, Gleaners will participate in a telethon on Fox 2 Detroit on Monday, April 20, and pump the campaign on email and social media communications throughout the month of April.

Women's Power Happy Hour 2014

(Charlie Gandy Thompson, Lisa Sullien & Danielle Todd at the 2014 Women’s Power Happy Hour, photo provided by Natalie Fotias of Gleaners)

“(For this year’s Happy Hour event) we added some live entertainment, a longer list of signature cocktails and worked with two renowned and very generous local designers to design specialty items for this year’s Women’s Power events,” McCann said.

Two items that will be available for a donation to Gleaners are a charm bracelet by custom jewelry maker Link Wachler and a silk scarf by Dominic Pangborn. Attendees will also have the chance to bid on auction items including weekend getaways, dining and entertainment deals, fashion items and spa packages.

McCann expects double the turnout from last year’s inaugural happy hour event, and says the breakfast will bring in over 650 individuals.

“Generous business, civic and community leaders of the female persuasion will be in attendance—as well as a few courageous fellas, I would guess,” McCann said.

Last year alone, Gleaners helped to provide meals for approximately 435,000 hungry people in southeast Michigan. While Gleaners does an excellent job with its main mission of feeding the hungry, McCann points out that the organization does much more than just that: it also teaches people how to shop and prepare nutritious meals and makes sure children have food over the weekend when they are at home and not at school.

“Gleaners has a futuristic view and focuses on both the short term and long term needs of families and children. This type of comprehensive support is critical to the health and success of our next generation and beyond,” McCann said.

Women's Power Breakfast

(Sheu-Jane Gallagher, Terry Campbell at the 2014 Women’s Power Breakfast, photo provided by Natalie Fotias of Gleaners)

It may be hard to believe, but nearly one quarter of Michigan children live at or below the poverty level today, and even more of those children live in households that are on the brink of poverty. According to McCann, there are many reasons why hunger still exists in our community, including the breakdown of the family, the recession and the slow economic recovery, challenges in the education system and the continuing cycle of generational poverty.

“Even though the economy is improving and there are many in the area feeding the hungry, the need is still very real… Working families don’t have the same earning power that they did before the recession. Parents who have to choose between food and other essentials will typically pay those other bills first, and make the food stretch by skipping meals or reducing meal portions,” McCann said.

All of the funds from the Women’s Power Happy Hour and Breakfast events (including ticket sales and auction items) will go directly to Gleaners and count toward the Million Meal Match goal to provide a million meals for children in southeast Michigan.

Donations are also accepted and will be matched dollar-for-dollar. That means, for every $1 you donate, six meals will be provided to hungry children in southeast Michigan. If you are interested in making a donation, please do so at www.gcfb.org/millionmealmatch or by calling 866-GLEANER.

Tickets for the Women’s Power Happy Hour and Breakfast events can be purchased online, and range in price from $120 to $150 (for tonight’s event) and $85 to $100 (for the Breakfast event). For more information, please visit Gleaners Community Food Bank’s official website.