Women United's Power of the Purse helps turn woman's life around

Helena Girouard said she could not have succeeded without the help of numerous charities funded by Women United.

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  • | 6:46 p.m. August 17, 2018
  • Ormond Beach Observer
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From the drapes to glitzy shoes, everyone and everything sparkled at the 15th annual Power of the Purse event on Friday.

However, that couldn’t outshine Women United’s philanthropic goal for 2018.

Last year, the Volusia chapter raised more than $38,000 in grants for 18 charities in the county.

This year, the goal was to double it.

Chapter president Jessica Fox Sznapstajler said it was possible.

Thirty seven people are on the chapter’s board this year, and more than 570 people attended the luncheon.

“We haven’t been this big in a long time,” Fox Sznapstajler said.

Women United hosts charity events throughout the year, but Power of the Purse, which kicks off the organization’s philanthropic season, is among the largest.

Attendees purchase tickets for a chance drawing of big ticket items, primarily designer handbags.

Money raised at the luncheon is granted each fall to organizations driven to helping women and children in the community.

Among the organizations was The Healthy Start Coalition of Flagler and Volusia Counties, which pulls together resources from the area to help pregnant women, infants, young children and their families.

Helena Girouard, of Port Orange, was among the many who sought help from the organization.

In high school, Girouard was a straight-edge teenager with good grades, but fell down a slippery slope in college, where she became a drug addict and alcoholic.

While in college, she also was assaulted and became pregnant.

She crossed paths with physicians, law enforcement officials and judges, who all saw her potential and gave her a second chance, she said.

The support led to the birth of a baby girl.

When her daughter was two weeks old, Girouard decided a new start meant turning herself in for multiple arrest warrants.

Through counseling, help from Family Renew Community, The Healthy Start and more organizations in the county, she got back on the right track.

Girouard returned to The Healthy Start as an intern, and she continues to raise awareness for the organizations that help women and children.

She has since received two culinary certificates from the University of Florida, two degrees from Daytona State College and is currently working on a third degree at Flagler College.

She said it would not have been possible without the resources available to her in her time of need.

“I assure you, it’s life changing,” she said.



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