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Sarasota Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2020 1 month ago

Impact100 and Girl Scouts Gulf Coast Florida host suffragist celebration

The Equalitea event celebrated 100 year's of the fight for women's right to vote.
by: Harry Sayer Staff Writer

For years, the suffragist movement had hundreds upon hundreds of women toiling to ensure the women’s right to vote. One of those women was Margaret Hankey Curtis  in Michigan. 

 Three generations later, Curtis’ great-granddaughter Wendy Steele works as the CEO and founder of the Impact100 nonprofit, which has several chapters supplying grants to local nonprofits and encouraging female philanthropic activism. Steele said learning about her mother’s family lineage was receiving an unexpected gift

“I never knew,” Steele said. “Unbeknownst to me, that was this family legacy. And, and that made us think about, you know, the importance of sort of standing on the shoulders of the amazing people who come before us to give us these lights to empower us in this way.”

Impact100 partnered with the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida for the EqualiTEA celebration on Aug. 26, a virtual tea party event recognizing the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and women’s right to vote. 

To mark the occasion, 54 lmpact100 chapters and several Girl Scout groups joined various online members in bringing cups of tea to raise a glass in tribute to the suffragettes who toiled to make the 19th amendment a reality. Steele was joined by Impact100 SRQ president Jane Watt, co-founder Tilly Valls McFadden and other Impact 100 leaders at the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida building. 

The half-hour event looked to connect the past efforts of the suffragettes and countless other women to the work being done by woman today, and hopefully inspire the young women who will work towards equality.  

"(The Girl Scouts) is such a beautiful way to prepare young girls to be part of their bigger community,” Steele said. “It helps to see their place in the world as young leaders and young women involved in making change.”

Mary Anne Servian, CEO of Girl Scouts Gulf Coast Florida, spoke to the Girl Scouts mission and highlighted the impact of suffragist and original Girl Scouts board member Edith Macy.

“We have so many connections to the past,” Servian said. “Today, we continue to stand in solidarity with sisters everywhere that need help and support.”

The event proved introspective for Steele, who enjoyed seeing the connection between member’s daughters and young women and the more mature members of her organization. Her biggest hope is that the next generation will continue to fight for representation. 

“Don't make what all of our ancestors have done, be in vain by not voting,” Steele said. “Not registering to vote, not voting, not casting your ballot it might be inconvenient. It might be difficult, it might be you know, all of those things, but it is a right that a whole group of people fought very hard for and that each of us need to make sure we exercise.”


Harry Sayer is the Black Tie Reporter for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked the Black Tie beat for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs. 

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