The effect of war on women has become a growing concern for Attitude & Attire™. According to A&A Founder/Executive Director Lyn Berman, they’ve seen more and more women, who have served in the military, accessing A&A’s services. Hundreds at the 17th Attitude & Attire Luncheon on Thursday, February 27, at the Dallas Trade Mart also learned that A&A is also becoming a resource for victims of human rights abuse.
But first guests like Caroline Rose Hunt, Charlene Howell, Laurie Sands Harrison, Billie Leigh Rippey and Sarah Losinger lunched and enjoyed fashions from Eileen Fischer and the A&A boutique modeled by both A&A volunteers and former clients. While some models waved at guests in the crowd, other drew applause by showing definite, positive attitude on the runway.
Following the show, A&T Founder/Executive Director Lyn Berman introduced Honorary Chair Christi Harris and then presented the 2014 Kim Dawson Award to Human Rights Initiative of North Texas Co-Founders Serena Connelly and Betsy Healy. For over the past 15 years, the two lawyers and their organization have provided services for people who have been tortured and imprisoned and whose family members have been murdered due to religious and political beliefs. In addition, these victims have lost their profession, culture and identity. In trying to make new lives for themselves, they have difficulty getting jobs and establishing a new life. As part of the healing process, A&A helped HRI clients get acclimated into their new lives.
To help promote A&A’s Boots to Heel program, keynote speaker (Retired) Brigadier Gen. Robin Akin spoke of her 30 years in the Army. Having served throughout the world (Korea, Desert Storm, Europe, etc.) it was the earthquake in Haiti that was the focus of her talk. It was this assignment that had her serving as commanding general for Operation: Unified Response and where she met a 23-year-old woman, who had lost most of her family to the earthquake. She waited for days to provide food for the remaining members of her family. That food came from the U.S. thanks to Robin and her crew. The young woman told Robin, “I have never seen an American before, but I will never forget.”
Wrapping up the luncheon, A&A Program Director Mary Pollinzi Brown introduced two women, who came from totally different situations but both benefited from the A&A program that had served over 1,500 people in the past year. First was Marguerita, who had served in the U.S. Army, but had a difficult adjusting to life away from the war zone. She suffered abuse from her husband, who suffered from PSDT. After a family tragedy, she realized change was needed and A&A helped her through that transition.
Following Marguerita was “Maggie”, who had been a reproductive health nurse in Cameroon. When she refused to perform illegal acts, she was imprisoned, tortured and abused. When she was released and again refused to cooperate in unethical actions, she was only able to achieve asylum in the U.S. thanks to the Human Rights Initiative and the Vinson & Elkins attorneys. Once again A&T provided the help to make her transition possible.
As some guests wiped away tears upon hearing the twosome’s stories, all rose to their feet as Marguerita and Maggie walked midway on the runway acknowledging the applause.