Young speaker charms audience at Power of the Purse luncheon

Photographer Anne Geddes was the keynote speaker for the Power of the Purse Luncheon May 3, but a local girl charmed the predominantly female audience of 850 and earned a standing ovation for her speech.

The annual $100-a-plate luncheon is a fundraiser for the philanthropic Women for Women of Pitt County organization.

Adiyah Yisrael, a 12-year-old student at H.B. Sugg School in Farmville, spoke about her involvement in Character and Manners Matter, a program that received a grant from Women for Women this year.

Adiyah, wearing a pink dress and displaying poise far beyond her years, told the sold-out luncheon crowd that the lessons she has learned in the program -- including table manners and public speaking -- will serve her well throughout her life.

"The Women for Women grant is making a positive difference in our class," she said. This year, $74,000 was awarded in grants to fulfill Women for Women's mission, "to give hope, change and a brighter future for the women and girls of Pitt County."

"Group philanthropy is such an effective means for accomplishing our goals," said board member Laura Nelson, who asked the women in attendance to join in the luncheon's annual salute by raising their purses over their heads.

Geddes, a internationally known photographer who specializes in whimsical portraits of infants and young children, shared her dedication to her philanthropy that has raised nearly $6 million to help prevent and raise awareness of child abuse and neglect. She also is an ambassador volunteer for March of Dimes and the United Nation's Every Woman Every Child Initiative.

"Little children do not have a voice," she said. "We are responsible for all the children, all the time."

Membership in Women for Women is open to all women with the heartfelt desire to give back and to make a lasting impact on the lives of women and girls in the community. All member contributions are placed in the Women for Women Endowment Fund.

Editor's note: Adiyah's age was incorrectly reported; we corrected her age to 12.

Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, is a former staff writer for The Daily Reflector, where she was editor of Her... magazine and Greenville: Life in the East and several other niche publications. Email her at