In a crowded ballroom in Deer Valley, members and supporters of the Park City Women's Business Network mingled, cocktails in hand. The event that pulled them together, the annual Fall Fashion Fundraiser, was underway, and women were carefully eyeing their silent auction bids as they said hello to friends.
The event raised money from the silent auction, tickets and a live auction where items were sold during the fashion show. The total amount was still being worked out Friday morning, but event coordinators were optimistic that the event did well, with more attendees and items than last year, which raised $15,000.
"The event is growing up, especially this year," said Melissa Hagen, the Fundraiser Chair for the PCWBN.
"I'm an event designer and was able to get friends on board to help. This year we stepped it up, and it feels special, a lot more fabulous."
Lori Harris, the President of PCWBN, agreed.
"Our mission is for women, to network, promote and support the women in our community," Harris said. "There are so many opportunities offered throughout the year."
"This year, we've rejuvenated the fashion show, but it is still meant to be a fun night out, a reason to get together and support our scholarship fund."
On tables lining the ballroom, attendees bid on items from local businesses such as Skullcandy and Canyons Resort. Even hotels such as The Venetian in Las Vegas and Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City offered getaways. Whether it was a spa package, a custom pair of boots or handmade, local jewelry, women were picking up their pens and writing down a number.
The silent auction closed, ushering attendees to take their seats for the show. The lighted runway stood in the center, around which women sat down at their tables and chairs, carefully tucking their evening dresses underneath themselves, auction cards at the ready.
Every year, the organization announces it Woman of the Year, an award dedicated to the memory of Park City local Candy Erickson. The 2012 Woman of the Year Award was presented to Insa Riepen, the Executive Director of Recycle Utah, a Park City-based nonprofit that collects 200 tons of recyclable goods every month.
Following the award, the fashion show began. From winter wear to Main Street merchandise, waves of models came onto the runway. Strut. Stop. Pose. Event coordinators opened the bidding, and a second wave of donations poured in to the organization, all to support a high school student in her first year of college.
"When you are graduating high school and getting ready for college, something like this lets you know there are people out there supporting you," Hagen said. "You get to go to college knowing you are supported, and that makes a difference."
One student who received a scholarship was unsure of when she would graduate from high school due to medical complications, but it was because of the scholarship that she motivated and finished school to start at the University of Utah this year.
"She told me this scholarship transformed her life," said Nancy Michalko, the PCHS Scholarship Adviser, "that she felt stronger, better because she was given an opportunity."
"That's what these scholarships are capable of," she added.
The event supports Park City High School women, and last year the $15,000 was split between five candidates, among them Mary Lamphier. Currently attending Brigham Young University, Lamphier, 18, hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatrician. When she found out she received a scholarship, she was surprised. Lamphier applied for every applicable community scholarship at the high school, receiving one from the PCWBN, and when they called her name, she said she was "sweating bullets."
"I was the third candidate whose name was called," she said. "It was such a blessing. I was so excited, so happy my hard work in high school added up.
"I was recognized by someone, and not just anyone, the women of my community."
This year, the PCWBN hopes to add an interview process to finalists for the scholarships, adding to the needs-based and academic criteria already in place. Scholarship applications are taken in the spring and more information can be found at the PCHS Scholarship Office.
For more information on the Park City Women's Business Network, visit www.parkcitywomensbusinessnetwork.net.