Circle of Parents Moms Enjoy Fashionista Friday

Women United Clothing Drive Builds Self-Confidence, Connections

by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County

Eliza Doolittle passed for Hungarian royalty after perfecting “proper” English in the musical film My Fair Lady. But any young girl watching Ms. Doolittle’s transformation was undoubtedly more enthralled by the progression of actress Audrey Hepburn’s magnificent wardrobe throughout the movie than her linguistic skills. In fact, the black and white dress and hat she wore in the Ascot race scene is considered by many as the most famous outfit ever designed for film.

On Fashionista Friday, Circle of Parents moms were able to feel a little like Eliza Doolittle, dressing up in new-to-them clothes. Circle of Parents is a peer support group for young mothers who have struggled with abuse, depression and addictions. Women United members have supported this group from afar for some time and offered this event as an opportunity to share a more intimate morning of fashion and food – and fun! Women United member Kelly Dunson, of Habitat for Humanity, said of her experience at the event that it was like they were, “little girls playing in our mom’s closet again.”

The event brought together donated clothing pieces, volunteer personal shoppers and moms (some with children in tow) who were eager for new additions to their wardrobes. “You just feel good when you’re dressed up,” said Women United member Julie Price, of Bayfront Health, who brought the idea of Fashionista Friday to the Women United group and served as co-chair of the event.

While the stereotype is that women spend much of their free time shopping for clothes, shoes and makeup, that is often far from the reality for many young moms. One mom in attendance explained that she shopped for clothes regularly: but only for her children. This free event afforded her the opportunity to explore a variety of options for herself with the assistance of a personal shopper.

Women United members volunteered their time to help moms pair pieces together to make fashionable outfits. It was a win-win for all women involved. Women United member and event co-chair Belinda Campbell, of Pomegranate & Fig Gift Boutique, said she was excited, “to make these moms happy and see the smile on their face!”

This is what Women United is all about – women supporting other women.

All participants at the event enjoyed a delicious lunch donated by Marco’s Pizza followed by a discussion on fashion tips, trends and styling. And while fashion was the hot topic of the day, Women United has a bigger goal for partnering with Circle of Parents.

In addition to Fashionista Friday, Women United has offered advice to these young moms on preparing quick meals for a family, including creating a cookbook with healthy family meals, strategies for time management and tips for how to juggle it all (Fun Fact: Sometimes you can’t!).

United Way of Charlotte County’s mission is to mobilize the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty. Through our Women United affinity group, we are empowering the mothers of Circle of Parents to raise healthy children. As we work toward this goal, we are taking a step toward breaking cycles of generational poverty.

Women United member Geri Waksler, of McCrory Law Firm, stated, “Moms put themselves last.” Together we were able to allow the Circle of Parents moms to take a morning to put themselves first.

We are grateful for support from the community to make this event happen, including Dillard’s Port Charlotte who provided swag bags for each mom who attended. And special thanks go out to Women United of Charlotte County for giving of your hearts, time, talent and treasures. To learn more about Women United, visit or call 941-627-3539.

For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission: Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at