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Making a Difference One Person at a Time

What can one single person do to make a difference in a world filled with hopelessness? What difference can a small group make?

In 1988 Angela Meslans discovered the answers to her lifelong yearning to make a difference when she read an article describing how to create a private foundation with as little as $100,000. Her interest in philanthropy was high because she wanted to do something with the small inheritance she received when her mother died. She was motivated because she knew from personal experience when she was a young battered woman that something still needed to be done to help society take domestic violence seriously.

When Candice Slaughter Warmke, another woman who had been battered, crossed her path a couple of years later, Angela knew she had found the key to creating a program for her dream of creating a foundation.

Meslans is retired now, but Warmke is still going strong. She believes that Peacepower has a great future. According to a recent Boston College study, more than $41 trillion dollars will be inherited in the U.S. in the next 60 years. The bulk of the inheritance will begin to occur within the next 20 years.

Warmke feels that with society###s ongoing focus on technology and mechanization, people will demand to have opportunities that will be more connected to other people. She sees Peacepower as a vehicle to bring people together who are taking great risks to make life better for others, and people who have resources who want the world to be a better place.

Between 1988 and 1998 Peacepower was a private foundation mainly supported by Meslans. Peacepower had given out more than $160,000 in cash to 77 projects in 31 countries. The cash total does not include the time spent in teaching non-profits and volunteers how to manage their projects more efficiently so that they can raise money and achieve their goals. The money was given either as outright grants or in the form of Amigas Awards. The Amigas Awards carry a $250 prize and the offer of non-profit management training.

Today the foundation has a small office in rural Dade City, Florida in a renovated 1912-train depot. And in 1998 the Women###s Peacepower Foundation, Inc. was created to serve as a public foundation receiving money from a variety of donors, not just from one person.

The philosophy remains the same: Bring people together who want to see their time and money make a difference. The goal is still to place resources like money and knowledge in the hands of people who are spending their time bringing the message of empowerment to those who feel hopeless around the world.

Women###s Peacepower Foundation, Inc. will hold the St. Paddy###s Calypso Dinner and Fashion Show on March 18 in Dade City. The event will be their first fundraiser.

At first the staff was a little hesitant when Sara Christianson of Caribbean Wraps approached them about creating a fundraiser based on modeling. They decided to build the event around the idea that the folks that are serving as models represent the kind of people that are role models for the rest of society.

The event will also feature an auction and vendors selling items. Volunteers are soliciting goods from around the Tampa Bay area for the auction. Models will ask friends and co-workers to sponsor them by pledging money. There will be a Calypso contest, island food and a great opportunity to support a worthwhile project. All of the proceeds will go to benefit the grant and awards programs of the foundation.

The foundation also sponsors financial planning seminars for women, including one entitled Life Planning for Lesbians. A woman###s information fair is planned for the fall. The second annual media awards for outstanding efforts to impact violence against women and an annual delegation trip to a foreign country to learn about community organizing are also in the works.

As the year 2000 unfolds Women###s Peacepower Foundation, Inc., will be working hard to create more opportunities for people to get involved. And they will keep demonstrating that a little bit of money from individuals used wisely CAN change the world.

The Women’s Peacepower Foundation Inc.’s web site is at www.peacepower.org.