Empowerment dinner to auction off art for scholarships

On Friday, May 15, the Women of Color Empowerment Dinner will be held for the 17th year in a row to raise money for the WWU Women of Color Scholarship and to increase communication about issues involving women of color.

“[The event] is really for women of color and our allies to come together and hear each others stories of successes and struggles,” Joan Ullin, WOCED chair, said. “I think that is is one of the most powerful components of the event.”

The pre-event will begin at 5 p.m. where attendees can chat with each other and bid on items in the “Short ‘n Sweet Silent-Art-Auction.” The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., and the events, which include speakers and the presentation of the scholarship, go until 8 p.m.

The keynote speaker is Karen Lee, who was appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire to the Western Board of Trustees in 2010 and is the chief executive officer of Pioneer Human Services, one of the nation’s largest social enterprise organizations.

Unlike the past four years, when a variety of quilts would be auctioned off to raise money for the scholarship, this year an open call for art has been made. Local artists are encouraged to donate work of any medium to be auctioned off in the silent art auction. Ullin said they expanded the art auction because, while it was wonderful to see the results of the quilters’ efforts, there just weren’t enough quilters.

Any artist can donate work to the auction with the only restriction being that it must be able to be carried home by the auction winner. All pieces must be dropped off with a donation form (which can be found on the WOCED website) to Student Outreach Services in Old Main 387 no later than May 8.

There is no theme that the artwork must follow, but the theme for the dinner is “Bold Steps: Pushing Beyond Boundaries.”

Anyone that wishes to donate in another form can also do so by purchasing a ticket for the event at $25, sponsoring an entire table for $500, or sponsoring a student’s ticket for $15 at the WWU Box Office.

Each year, a majority of the attendees are students from Western and other colleges in the area. With the donation of student tickets most students do not have to pay to attend the event, but the student tickets are first come first serve from Student Outreach Services.

“Students can be sponsored for the event so they can listen to the message and feel empowered,” Ullin said. “This is a social justice event. That’s why we empower each other.”

This year, an image of a lotus was chosen for the poster, which unlike the past years does not include an image of a woman.

The symbolism of the lotus can be related to many people. The flower blossoms in a swamp where it is difficult to grow, but despite going through all of the mud it blooms beautifully.

“It’s been muddy for us (those of underrepresented communities) too.To break through the mud and be successful,” Ullin said. “We’re all in this together.”