by Lee Anne Denyer:
There really was a kind simplicity to it. Women, whose paths would unlikely cross, came together and simply talked.
It was raining on in downtown Livermore, but the large windows in the dining area of the Shepherd’s Gate campus allowed for plenty of natural light. To a passerby, the meeting could have appeared to be a book club or any sort of getting-know-you social, but what happened on that rainy afternoon was more, much more.
“I had a vision, women working pro-bono to help those in need,” Sima Alefi, chairwoman of the Alliance of Women Professionals, explained to me as we packed up the placards and waited for the last of the massages, administered by Dr. Niele Maimone, DC, of Align Healing to begin. That Friday at Shepherd’s Gate included an afternoon workshop geared toward assisting some of the live-in residents on their paths to independence and recovery. This was the first professional panel held, and resident Jessica Standfield noted, “Today shows how many people care outside of the walls of this program.”
The purpose of the Alliance of Women Professionals, established in May of this year, is to bring together women business owners to establish local relationships in hope of bolstering their professional goals, while also giving back to the community with events like the panel hosted today. Alefi recognized the symbiotic opportunity in organizing the event. The skill sets of the group directly correlated with the needs of the women who live there. “Successful women really inspire me,” resident Shannon Christiansen said as the women paired off. “This is the first step in the right direction. It might be late, but you have to start somewhere.” She darted away as a question popped into her head.
It was clear the goal of the workshop had been met when a resident, hashing out the details of bankruptcy from a legal perspective with family attorney, Kathleen Reeves then asked, “How does that impact my ability to rent, or maybe one day buy a house?” That’s where panelist and real estate agent Ester Langhofer piped in, “I can help you with that.”
The range of skills and background of the panelists complimented each other allowing for thorough explanations to tough questions.
In sharing their backgrounds and extending their support, the women of the Alliance of Business Professionals in partnership with Shepherd’s Gate, not only impacted personal lives, but also enriched the relationships amongst community organizations. Many of the panelists are planning to return to continue to support the journeys of the women living at Shepherd’s Gate. Keely Coleman of Maurice Salon hopes to host a makeover day to celebrate the successes of the residents.
The organic conversation between women made for an empowering afternoon, and opened the door for countless more opportunities.