I just hosted the first Night Out With Meaning: Women & Giving on November 11th. Thirty-four women witnessed Peggy Dolan tell her story. Through family pictures, Peggy told the story of her family and their experiences caring for two of their daughters, Kelly Anne and Kim, as they battled aplastic anemia and a rare form of leukemia. Peggy and her husband Joe turned their tragedy into providing help and hope for families with seriously ill children through the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund.

Night Out is about learning, connecting and reflecting. It is my hope that attendees take away knowledge that they did not have before about the experiences of families in crisis. It is my hope that attendees will meet someone new or discover something about a friend that brings them closer. And it is also my hope that there are pieces from Peggy Dolan’s story that make attendees stop and reflect about their own lives and experiences.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to take a step back from what I was doing to figure out where I wanted to go professionally and as a mom. I started a journey that began with talking to people. With each conversation, which really was an exchange of stories, I was inspired. And from those conversations, I gained clarity about what would bring meaning to my professional life. The thing I thought would be really fun was working with women in my community around some aspect of charitable giving. I want to inspire women to take the time to think about their personal giving and I want to encourage women to align their passions with their gifts – both financial and non-financial. Then came the internal question – how exactly am I going to do this? I thought about what has given me great satisfaction and inspiration recently and I kept coming back to my meetings with people and hearing their stories.

And so Night Out With Meaning was created. It is pretty simple really, let’s enjoy elements of a typical Girls Nights Out – food, wine and friends – where women can feel comfortable and welcomed. Let’s pick a topic of interest to focus on like understanding the needs of families in crisis or why empowering women is so important to alleviating poverty. And let’s have one inspiring woman stand before us to simply tell her story. Stories, told well, have the power to transport us. Storytelling encourages exploration. It is a nurturing way to remind us that our spoken words are powerful, that listening is important, and that clear communication between people is an art. I am committed to inviting storytellers with different backgrounds and approaches to their chosen issue. I am also committed to helping make connections.

I witnessed women exchanging information, comforting each other, and creating an environment to allow those at the table to speak openly and personally.

My mission is to inspire others by helping them articulate their values and passions to be purposeful givers. Informed philanthropy can bring great satisfaction to a person’s life and has the power to transform communities, organizations and people.

I look forward to sharing future Nights Out with such creative, sensitive and inquisitive women!