Birthday party benefits YWCA’s Women in Transition program
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Saturday, Feb. 08, 2014

Birthday party benefits YWCA’s Women in Transition program

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/04/09/37/YOtyC.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - HOPE YANCEY
    Kirsten Sikkelee, left, CEO of the YWCA Central Carolinas on Park Road, said Allyson Siegel, a volunteer celebrating her 50th birthday, is the embodiment of the Women in Transition program.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/04/09/37/eknmB.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - HOPE YANCEY
    Ligia Mason, left, director of the Women in Transition program, receives a hug from Kirsten Sikkelee, CEO of the YWCA Central Carolinas on Park Road.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/04/09/37/Ps3Zv.Em.138.jpeg|210
    - HOPE YANCEY
    Guests at Allyson Siegel's 50th birthday celebration enjoy a dinner party at the YWCA Central Carolinas on Park Road. There was birthday cake and live music after the meal.

Allyson Siegel was planning to celebrate her 50th birthday with a vacation in Europe.

Instead, she decided to use funds she had been saving for that trip to benefit the YWCA Central Carolinas on Park Road in south Charlotte, where she is a regular volunteer.

Siegel, who turned 50 this month, hosted a catered dinner party Feb. 1 for participants in the YWCA’s Women in Transition program, which offers safe and affordable transitional housing and comprehensive support services to single women. About 50 of her friends and acquaintances from the community also attended.

“I think when you sit and have a meal with someone, it makes a difference,” said Siegel, who lives in the Mountain Island area.

Guests dined on salad, vegetables, chicken, lasagna, birthday cake and assorted desserts, and were entertained with live music.

Siegel is a licensed professional counselor with a practice in Charlotte. She also is executive vice president of Tru-Pak Moving Systems, a family-owned business in Conover.

She volunteers with the WIT program, teaching a financial curriculum called “Money Habitudes,” which addresses spending habits and attitudes about money in a nonjudgmental manner through use of a card game.

“The WIT program, for me, is a program in which I find the most joy, because I get so much from them,” she said.

In addition to hosting the party, Siegel made a $5,000 contribution to the WIT program – the amount she had designated for the international trip she didn’t take. She also asked friends to consider making donations in lieu of bringing birthday gifts.

Siegel also recently donated new fitness equipment to the YWCA.

“For me, the WIT program and volunteering, this is kind of a home for me, and I would do anything I could do to keep it going,” Siegel said.

Ligia Mason, director of WIT, said Siegel makes classes fun and informative and connects with participants.

“She’s just turned out to be so open to assisting us in any way she can,” Mason said.

Kirsten Sikkelee, CEO of the YWCA Central Carolinas, has known Siegel a couple of years.

“I think our mission around eliminating racism and empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people, really captures the essence of who Allyson Siegel is,” Sikkelee said. “She is very much about women’s empowerment.”

Brenda, who asked that only her first name be used, is a graduate of WIT at the YWCA. She said WIT helped her become self-sufficient. She said the program gave her support and encouragement and held her accountable.

Brenda, 53, now is a staff member at the YWCA, working as a resident adviser for other transitional housing participants.

“I can really empathize with the women that are here,” Brenda said.

A current WIT participant Brenda recently: “Your story has given me hope.”

Brenda said the woman said she would like to be a resident adviser herself one day. “You can,” Brenda said she told the woman.

Hope Yancey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Hope? Email her at hyanceywrites@gmail.com.

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