Twenty years ago, a group of University of Mississippi alumnae leaders set out to use their resources and voices to help change the world – one student at a time. The Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy (OMWC) will celebrate its anniversary Feb. 14 with a dinner-dance and auction of unique experiences to raise funds for student programming.
The anniversary event will highlight OMWC scholars and generous scholarship, Global Leadership Circle and Rose Society donors. Leigh Anne Tuohy of Memphis, Tennessee – a recipient of the inaugural OMWC Legacy Award, interior decorator and the subject of the movie “The Blind Side” – will emcee the event at The Inn at Ole Miss.
OMWC Chair Mary Susan Gallien Clinton of Naples, Florida, said the scholarship endowment has grown to $15.7 million, and enriching opportunities accompany the scholarships, among some of the largest at the university.
“OMWC members have found our voice and a vehicle for making an impact. To work with students – to help grow and nurture them – is one of the most important things any of us can do. It’s absolutely amazing to see these students bloom through opportunities we offer, and working with them means the world to our council members and me.
“There’s a tremendous return on investment as our scholars become outstanding citizens, innovators and change agents. Look out, world – we OMWC members are just getting warmed up in our mission to enhance opportunities for students.”
The anniversary dinner includes a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by a buffet dinner by Tallahatchie Gourmet, program, auction and dance.
“A much-anticipated part of this vibrant celebration will be the auction of extraordinary experiences,” said OMWC anniversary co-chair Karen Moore of Nashville, Tennessee.
Auction proceeds, combined with dinner ticket sales, will be used to expand programming for OMWC Scholars and other Ole Miss students. Among the unique experiences found at https://www.32auctions.com/omwc20auction are:
- An evening with legendary entertainer Dolly Parton will include cocktails and dinner for 10 people in the Oxford home of Mary and Sam Haskell on April 17.
- An exclusive Oxford experience with Ole Miss and pro football great Archie Manning will treat 10 adults to his Oxford home where guests will enjoy drinks and some of Manning’s favorite stories before the group walks to the Oxford Grillehouse on the Square for dinner. Each guest will receive a football signed by all the Manning men – Archie, Cooper, Eli and Peyton.
- An ultimate tailgating tent, fare, drink and experience for up to 50 people in the Grove will take place before the Alabama-Ole Miss football game on Oct. 3. Consider this SEC matchup as a game not to be missed: new Ole Miss Coach Lane Kiffin versus his former boss, Coach Nick Saban.
- An entertainment-filled four-night VIP trip will take two people to Nashville on June 3-7 for the CMT Awards, the CMA Fest, hotel accommodations and more.
- Two different condo offerings in Aspen, Colorado, will provide relaxing vacation time in one of the most popular areas of the United States.
After all auctions end at 9 p.m., live music will be provided by the popular, high-energy cover band, the Spunk Monkees.
“The OMWC has had some amazing history on its 20-year journey,” said Moore, an active member and former chair of OMWC. “The vision of Ellen Rolfes, a Memphian who’s considered the architect of the Women’s Council, has given our students an opportunity to learn through travel and cultural experiences, engagement with mentors, and lessons on leadership, philanthropy and service. We plan to elevate our programs to even greater heights in the coming years.”
OMWC member Margaret Barker of Nashville also is co-chairing the anniversary event, which will honor all those who have provided support for the program.
“We are grateful to our donors who have supported our programs and allowed us to grow,” Barker said. “The OMWC has developed what we believe is the gold standard of scholarship programs, giving deserving students far more than just financial support – although that holds great importance.
“We encourage everyone to purchase tickets and enjoy Valentine’s Day for a most meaningful cause – a celebration of students and future leaders. The evening promises to provide a magical combination of inspiring stories, wonderful fellowship, spectacular food and drinks, a lively auction and contagious dance music.”
The OMWC began with a group of dedicated women committed to promoting philanthropy to sponsor innovative programs that would attract and develop students through leadership, scholarship and mentorship. Since its inception, 58 women have served on the OMWC and have contributed both financially and through their involvement as mentors and fundraisers.
The OMWC scholarships – among the top scholarships at Ole Miss at $40,000 each – have supported 147 male and female students to date. In addition to engaging with their career and life mentors, scholarship recipients meet weekly with OMWC staff members and once a month enjoy a Red Plate Supper that offers both a home-style meal and an inspiring speaker.
Scholarships can be endowed for $125,000 for a general scholarship or $250,000 for a scholarship designated for a particular major. Each scholarship is recognized with a dedication ceremony in the OMWC Rose Garden at the intersection of University Avenue and Old Taylor Road. The Mentor, a bronze sculpture at the center of the garden, watches over thousands of students as they walk, bike or drive by each day.
The Global Leadership Circle was founded to support OMWC scholars, and funds provided by donors enable students to study abroad or pursue internships on the national and international level. The Rose Society and Rose Bud Society were begun as support groups to garner additional resources for student programming.
Tickets are available now for $75 per person. For more information about the Ole Miss Women’s Council 20th Anniversary Celebration and to purchase tickets online, visit https://bit.ly/383orEa.
For more information about the 20th anniversary event, contact Alexis Lee, OMWC program coordinator, at 662.915.7273 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about establishing a scholarship, or joining the Global Leadership Circle and other support groups, contact Suzanne Helveston, development associate, at 662-915-2956 or email@example.com.
By Tina H. Hahn