BY BROOKE ORR
Anything is possible when women band together to lift one another up. 2020 was a year of challenges and the members of Professional Women of Winston-Salem (PWWS) rose to the occasion, offering virtual learning opportunities tailored to the specific needs of professional women facing the fall-out of the pandemic. One member recalls a virtual luncheon where the guest speaker inspired her to prioritize self-care. “It is easy to become hyper-focused on the needs of others. The next thing you know you are in a self-sacrificing spiral – going through the motions. Our family, friends, and employers need our best selves, and practicing self-care allows us to give that to them. It is like on an airplane when the flight attendant instructs passengers to put their oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs.” Andrea Kimura, PWWS President, says that the organization provides an inclusive environment, a safe place to talk about professional and personal challenges. She says women in the group joyfully welcome new members into their close-knit circle, offering support as they do life together.
That unconditional support is why PWWS has continued to grow, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020. The first formal PWWS meeting was held during lunch in November 1990, and the organization continues to meet monthly during lunch for networking and continuing education. In addition to monthly luncheons, members also gather throughout the year for special events, providing ample opportunities for members to get to know one another and address concerns specific to their personal and professional journeys.
PWWS’s mission is to provide valuable personal and professional resources to a network of positive, supportive women that inspire and empower professional women of Winston-Salem. The members of this organization live out their mission through quarterly philanthropic focused initiatives. Past outreach includes a member clothing drive to support Dress for Success Winston-Salem, a global not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and life. Members look forward to a new initiative in 2021, partnering with The Shalom Project through their Flourish program. Flourish is a high-impact poverty reduction model aimed at supporting women and their families who are on their journey out of poverty. All participants gather weekly to share a meal and engage in a wide range of programming, which is provided by a Community Support Network. In addition to supporting community, women-focused, not-for-profits, the PWWS also provides a scholarship fund for single mothers in or attending school in Forsyth County. The PWWS Scholarship Fund provides $2,000 for tuition and books for one semester or a quarter of study at an accredited institution.
As the saying goes “it is better to give than receive” but members of PWWS have extensive opportunities for both. In addition to countless philanthropic projects PWWS members also receive a sponsored membership to the International Alliance for Women, an expanded network of potential clients, colleagues, employers, customers, friends, and associates, professional development, and access to at least 12 highly accomplished and inspiring guest speakers each year. 2020 was challenging, but PWWS and its members are resilient and their commitment to supporting women is an inspiration. 2021 holds lots of exciting things for this organization, and you are invited to be a part of it all through membership and/or sponsorship. Find out more at pwws.org. For membership or sponsorship information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,