Monday, May 21, 2012

ABWA Sunset chapter has raised $250,000 in past decade

Left to right: ABWA Sunset officers Francine LoCrosto, Jeanne Hardman, Lynn Luken , Val Filipksi and Victoria Roberts
By Nick Williams

Each year for the past 11 years, the American Business Women's Association Sunset chapter (Bradenton-Sarasota) has raised an average of $22,000 at its annual dinner for scholarships serving Manatee and Sarasota area women. From time to time, men will also be awarded scholarships.

 In that span, the chapter has raised $250,000.

"I can tell you from experience, if you're really kind to women and support them to get educated and get better jobs, they will take care of their children," said Victoria Roberts, president of the Sunset chapter. "When you get women to take care of their children, you turn the community into a more productive place. It shows the affects western women have on the community and this country."

The yearly scholarships have ranged from $100 to $1,000, depending on the financial need of the student.
In 1992, Barabara Kiracofe created the Sunset Chapter. Since its creation, she said the organization has helped dozens of local women. One in particular, Kelly Tellis, has truly benefited from the organization's funding.

Tillis was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri, a condition which mimics a brain tumor and causes intracranial pressure to build. The pressure can cause, among other things, swelling of the optic nerve and result in blindness. She has had multiple surgeries.

When the chapter learned of her story, it funded her education through her years at the University of South Florida and then Barry Law School.

"I can't tell you how proud we are of her," Kiracofe said.

Kiracofe has been a member of the ABWA for 47 years. The work she and her fellow members put into the annual fundraiser is strenuous, but fulfilling.

"We know how much good is being done."

For more information on the chapter, visit

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