United Way Women’s Leadership Luncheon Provides Inspiration to “Just Do It!”

From left: Women's Leadership Council Executive Committee Members Kathy Brown, Thumbprint Marketing; Samantha O'Lenick, Florida Hospital; and Sara Brady, Sara Brady Public Relations, Inc.

“Just do it.” I had been inspired by this phrase years ago when Nike first released this ad campaign in an effort to encourage the public to become more physically fit. But when I heard the phrase again last week at the 5th Annual United Way Women’s Leadership Luncheon, it touched me in a way that I was not expecting.

This time it wasn’t Nike telling me to “Just do it,” it was Sister Ann Kendrick, who leads community relations for the Hope CommUnity Center, a United Way partner agency. Before delivering the invocation, Sister Ann looked out over the 800-plus women who were attending the luncheon and she asked the attendees to reach out and hold their neighbor’s hand.

Sensing the hesitation in the room, she simply said, “Just do it.”  With that, my right hand found itself in the palm of a stranger.

It’s funny how a simple gesture like holding someone’s hand, can instantly break down barriers. When the invocation was over, the stranger and I immediately engaged in conversation. We talked all through lunch and I quickly learned that she was looking for employment in the hospitality industry. We exchanged business cards and I encouraged her to call me. I had a few people in mind who might have a job opening and I wanted to help her find work.

Our conversation wasn’t unique. Everyone at my table was connecting with each other. In fact, the entire room was buzzing. No matter where you were seated, it was evident that women were on a mission to help each other. With three simple words, “Just do it,” and a handshake, Sister Ann Kendrick had released the compassion and nurturing spirit within all of us.

The United Way Women’s Leadership Luncheon was conceived five years ago in an effort to provide additional support to the women and children in our community who are experiencing extreme hardship. In my eyes, the luncheon has far exceeded its mission. Not only does the event raise significant funds for those in need, but it also reminds each of us that whatever our own set of challenges and struggles may be, support, empathy and advice is always within reach.

If you have the chance to attend this event next year, or volunteer your time at one of the many United Way partner agencies, my advice is simple: “Just Do It!”

Kathy Brown
President, Thumbprint Marketing
United Way Women’s Leadership Council Steering Committee   


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