It was a packed house at the Rosen Centre on Wednesday as more than 700 prominent Central Florida business and civic leaders joined Heart of Florida United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council for the Seventh Annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon featuring keynote speaker and best-selling author Erin Gruwell. Thanks to the generosity of guests in attendance, the event raised more than $100,000, which will be invested in United Way’s local education and literacy initiatives. A video shown at the event demonstrates why the Council chose reading and literacy as its primary focus issue.
Gruwell, author of the New York Times best-seller The Freedom Writers Diary, described her journey as a teacher with 150 high school students who were labeled as “unteachable.” Her inspiring true story was the basis for the film Freedom Writers. From her career as a high school teacher to being portrayed by Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, Gruwell shared her experiences that led her to become an education advocate.
“When you look at the graduation rates we have been faced with across the country, it would be easy to get discouraged and lose hope,” said Gruwell. “But we have a great opportunity to improve that situation because of you. And Heart of Florida United Way is paving the way with their goal to create lasting, measurable change through a focus on education. It is truly a collaborative effort and every single one of us can help in some way.”
Thanks to our event sponsors, which included Tupperware Brands Corporation, Fifth Third Bank, Florida Hospital, Lockheed Martin, Orlando Health, Publix Supermarkets, University of Central Florida, BakerHostetler, Darylaine Hernandez Law Firm, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, McGladrey LLP, and Orlando Magic.
To see photos from the event, visit HFUW’s Facebook page