It takes vulnerability

Circle of Parents moms get pampered at Fashionista Friday

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

If we didn’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we might miss out on incredible, fulfilling opportunities. I remember feeling a little vulnerable two years ago when presented with the opportunity to begin writing weekly columns to be published in the Daily Sun.

Did what I have to say matter to anyone besides me? Would I be able to articulate the message I wanted to get out to our community? Could I make change through this forum?

But knowing that our community could benefit from learning more about what happens behind the scenes at our area nonprofit organizations, I decided to do it scared.

That’s the name of the book by Punta Gorda resident, Ruth Soukup, that she recently donated to our Fashionista Friday event.

The full title, “Do it Scared:  Finding the Courage to Face Your Fears, Overcome Adversity, and Create a Life You Love”, now rests on the bookshelves of a dozen women from across Charlotte County who are members of the Kids Thrive Circle of Parents group. These women have allowed themselves to be vulnerable in order to take strides towards creating a life they love.

This event is put on by Women United, offering hope to young women who are overcoming setbacks in their journey through motherhood. This year’s event had its own setbacks, thanks to some storms you probably know by name. Ian forced us to reschedule. Nicole forced us to relocate. Despite our own adversity in event planning, Women United made it happen.

In preparation, we put a call out to the community to gather new and gently used clothing items. A committee volunteered their time to sort the clothing. Others took time to set up prior to the event and clean up after the event. We had personal shoppers, greeters, childcare, food (thank you IHOP!)… It was quite the undertaking and took a big effort to mobilize.

On Friday, Nov. 11, we put a sign on our office door that said HOPE Boutique, and a dozen women stepped into our office, vulnerable, but looking for hope.
Shirts and dresses came off the hangers. Laughter bounced off the walls. Even the daughters were modeling oversized princess dresses. And most importantly, self-confidence grew.

These mothers give of themselves day in and day out for their children. But according to Ruth Soukup’s book, “It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be there for others.” Through a team of Women United members, United Way of Charlotte County staff and generous community donors, we were able to help these mothers take a little time to take care of themselves.

In addition to receiving new outfits, each mother took home a reusable tote bag donated by GenesisCare. Each bag was filled with items donated by Ruth Soukup, including a copy of her book, a Do It Scared t-shirt, a planner, as well as salon gift cards donated by Nix and Associates. Pomegranate & Fig Boutique, Julie Lang Health & Lifestyle coach provided gifts among many other partners.

After the event, one mother told us, “I know for some people, they’re just clothes. But for us, they represent so much more. They are a symbol that someone believes in us; that people still care. A symbol of hope!”

A picture is worth a thousand words, and I pray you will view the photos on our Facebook page ( of this beautiful event. The images tell the story better than my words ever could.

It takes vulnerability to publish a book, to publish a weekly newspaper column, to share your struggles, to ask for help. No one is asking you to be fearless. But we encourage you to do it scared. I am honored to know women who can be brave and vulnerable like Ruth Soukup and especially our Circle of Parents moms. To learn more about the Circle of Parents or Women United, please visit:

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