By Deborah Welky
The Women of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce (WOW) held its annual wine-tasting soiree last month. The event attracted more than 50 guests and netted more than $1,000 for the Talented Teen Club, so that the nonprofit can provide gift cards for teens at holiday time.
Hosted Oct. 13 at the Hive Suites on Fairlane Farms Road and sponsored by the JH Massey Group, the wine-tasting was led by Sunny Hawkins of Scout & Cellar, purveyor of “clean-crafted” wines.
“Scout & Cellar is a member of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, and, when we approached Sunny Hawkins about helping us with our fundraiser, she graciously agreed,” Event Coordinator Sherron Permashwar said. “We had 10 charcuterie boards around the room — everything from savory to sweet — and Sunny gave the guests samples of five different wines, while she explained the kinds of wine, the pouring of wine and the pairing of wines. Scout & Cellar also donated a dozen bottles of wine for a raffle, with the winners announced after the tasting.”
The guests also got to meet a grateful representative from the Talented Teen Club.
“That donation will help put some lovely smiles on faces at our Gifts for Teens event on Dec. 17,” said Shawn Ho-Hing King, founder of this local nonprofit organization. “We’ve been giving out gift cards for so many years to older kids who are sometimes overlooked by those donating to Toys for Tots. This year, we are estimating having more than 400 families at our Greenacres location. We are so, so grateful to the Wellington Chamber. They have really stepped up.”
Jennifer Massey-Hernandez, of the business brokerage JH Massey Group, was honored to be the event’s primary sponsor.
“We proudly sponsored this event to provide guests a rewarding evening out, coming together for an amazing cause of support and love, not only for Talented Teens, but also for women supporting other women and their businesses,” she said. The Women of Wellington is a collective group of like-minded businesswomen driven to make a difference in the community, while supporting one another’s business, thereby creating a network of sustainable contacts and resources.”
Formed nearly 10 years ago, WOW hosts approximately four philanthropic events a year, each with a different beneficiary.
“We love supporting our chamber community through supporting our chamber members,” Massey-Hernandez said. “Therefore, we always look for great ways to incorporate the various philanthropic types of nonprofits that are in our chamber. The Talented Teen Club has a great mission and was a perfect fit, especially leading up to the holidays. Teens are so often forgotten during the holiday season — and providing something to gift them for the holidays was our pleasure.”
The nonprofit Talented Teen Club was founded by King 17 years ago in an effort to build self-esteem and self-confidence in teens through various programs.
“I lost my mother when I was 10 years old and, to this day, it’s the biggest loss of my life,” King said. “But it was most difficult during my teen years. Fortunately, I was gifted the natural ability to do hair. I got into the beauty industry, and it literally saved my life. So that’s what I want our teens to do — go toward their natural gifts and abilities and use that vehicle to build self-esteem and self-confidence.”
She is particularly thankful for the ability to help teenage girls.
“In the beauty industry, I deal with so many women who don’t find their superpower early,” King said. “When I realized that, it really put the gas in my tank to form the club. What if I could give young girls and boys the ability to dream and to use their God-given gifts and discover their own superpowers earlier than I did?”
She works closely with her board to decide which programs to put in place by listening to what the teens’ dreams are. “We find a teen’s natural talents, and then get them a mentor in that area,” King said. “If they have leadership qualities, our Leadership Academy program will help them get into leadership roles at their school, or at least as a person, within themselves. Our Track-and-Field program is geared toward helping teens receive scholarships, as well as being good for their mental health and as an outlet for some physical activity as they navigate this crazy world. Our Youth Cosmetology program and the associated Cosmetology Apprenticeship program gives teens the skillset necessary to go into the beauty industry of their choice.”
The Talented Teen Club also works to make sure students, especially Title 1 students, have the school supplies necessary at back-to-school time and, of course, gift cards at holiday time.
“We make sure they get some love at Christmastime and throughout the year,” King said. “The families are so grateful. When you read the notes and letters that they write, just to get on the list… We try to open up our doors each year to new families that are struggling and really need our help.”
To donate in time for holiday giving, contact the Talented Teen Club at (561) 649-1234 by Dec. 10 so the group has time to wrap each gift. Volunteers are also always needed.