There really was a kind simplicity to it. Women, whose paths would unlikely cross, came together and simply talked. To a passerby, the afternoon lunch meeting at the Shepherd's Gate campus 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,"said Sima Alefi, chairwoman of the Alliance of Women Professionals.
Danville-based Alliance, along with Dr. Niele Maimone of Align Healing, held a workshop on Nov. 25 to assist Shepherd's live-in residents on their paths to independence and recovery. Established in May, Alliance brings together women business owners to establish local relationships in hope of bolstering their professional goals, while also giving back to the community. Alefi organized the workshop with members who possessed skill sets directly correlated with the needs of Shepherd's women.
"Today shows how many people care outside of the walls of this program," resident Jessica Standfield said.
Alliance members provided real-world advice to residents, often providing answers to tough questions. Real Estate agent Ester Langhofer helped resident Kathleen Reeves, who was working with a family attorney on a bankruptcy question, when she needed information on her ability to rent or buy a home.
In sharing their backgrounds and extending their support, the women of the Alliance of Business Professionals not only impacted personal lives, but also enriched relationships among community organizations.
"Successful women really inspire me," said resident Shannon Christiansen. "This the first step in the right direction. It might be late, but you have to start somewhere."
Many of the panelists are in the works of planning to return to continue to support the journeys of the women living here. Keely Coleman of Maurice Salon hopes to host a makeover day to celebrate the successes of the residents.
"I touched somebody's life today. That feeling is priceless," Alefi said of her experience.