by Alessandra Selgi-Harrigan | 0 comments
They call themselves Coronado Women Who Wine. The name may give a different impression of what this group of women is really all about. Yes there is wine involved but it’s much more than that. Once a month one of the women hosts a get together at her house and chooses a charity from the San Diego area she will like funds to go to. The members bring food and wine and enjoy an evening of socializing. A representative from the charity chosen usually speaks about the organization. “It’s not uncommon for us to be laughing and 10 minutes later we are crying,” explained Hope Baker founder of Women who Wine.
Baker, who moved to Coronado from Arizona four-and-a-half years ago, was inspired by her friend who lives in Las Vegas who had a similar group going. She quickly got to work and now Coronado Women Who Wine is celebrating its fourth year. Baker explained that she always wanted to give back but didn’t have a local charity since she was new to the area. So she thought if a group of women got together once a month and the hostess chose a charity then more people could benefit.
Usually the group raises an average of $500 at each event with people donating between $ 20 to $25. Although the venue is usually a member’s home there have been times when the women held a shopping event which combined Lily’s and Blue Jeans and Bikinis, or another time at the Coronado Yacht Club.
Women Who Wine recently got inducted into the Give Together Community Circle and they are the third organization so far.
The first time Baker held an event she chose Kiva, a micro lending platform for women and men who are trying to start a business. Since then the group has donated to Coronado Young Life, El Nido, EOD Warrior Foundation, Bundles of Courage and more. “We’ve donated to 40 at this point,” she said. Baker’s personal favorite charity is El Nido, a transitional living program for homeless battered women with children.
The last meeting was held on a recent Thursday night at Baker’s home. The Wampler’s Foundation was chosen as the charity for this month and Elizabeth Wampler was the guest speaker of the evening. The women raised $800 that night. Baker said as usual the hostess provides the main dish and everyone else brings wine, side dishes, appetizers and desserts. The meetings usually start at 6:30 p.m. and last a couple of hours. “Sometimes if we are having too much fun it can be 10:30 p.m.”
Kim Umansky has a favorite charity - Bundle for Courage - she chooses when she is a host of Women Who Wine. Umansky is a nurse who with her husband who is a doctor, travel to Mexico twice a year to perform free plastic surgeries for kids. Their daughter Elise founded Bundle for Courage a 501 (c) 3 not-for profit organization which provides bags for the children after they receive surgery. When Umansky is the host one of her children is the guest speaker.
Umansky looks forward to Women Who Wine events. “It’s a wonderful way for women who come together and make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. Umansky also enjoys finding out what each host feels passionately about which charity. “We learn about a variety of charities...it’s very empowering for women to do this,” she said.
Members of Women Who Wine is truly a varied group whose members include professions like teacher, dental hygienist, nurse, reporter, and Baker herself who is a national Vice President for Arbonne. About 15 women attend the meetings on average and those who can’t make it still send a donation to the charity chosen that month.
Jill Lehr, a member of Women Who Wine who volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children (CASA) chose that organization as her charity when she hosted the event. She said one member was so touched by the speaker at a Women Who Wine meeting she was inspired to become a CASA herself. “I really love the like-mindedness of the women giving back to the community. It’s eye opening to me the amount of need out there. I’m much more aware of the needs of the community now,” explained Lehr.
“Everyone loves it. It’s more meaningful than just going out to dinner. We all feel good and are making a difference,” said Baker of the group. “I love to learn about different causes. [The group] has allowed us to develop amazing friendships. We have a connection on a deeper lever. The women love the friendships and making a difference,” said Baker.
“I wasn’t sure what it would look like four years later,” said Baker about starting the group. “I’m very excited and it thrills me to know we’ve done some good.”