INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Adversity can often lead to even greater resolve, as Planned Parenthood supporters have learned throughout the 90-year history of the organization.
The most recent incident in Vero Beach came when the Oak Harbor Club pulled the plug just one day prior to a scheduled Planned Parenthood fundraiser, seemingly concerned about a threatened demonstration.
But the affront has only strengthened the determination of its advocates. After the cancellation, a number of individuals offered to open up their homes for small gatherings embracing what has turned out to be an outpouring of community support.
Close to 100 Planned Parenthood friends, re-energized rather than discouraged, gathered at the exquisite riverfront home of Nancy and Byron Sugahara Friday evening for a festive celebration of encouragement.
“I am re-inspired after getting the boot from Grand Harbor,” said Nancy Offutt, echoing the opinion of many of the supporters.
“It has re-stimulated a lot of peoples’ interest,” agreed Mary Nation. “It is a very serious loss if we lose women’s rights; there’s no going back.”
“People are outraged,” added Silvia Cancio, pointing out that Planned Parenthood is primarily about education and family planning. “Never underestimate the power of an angry woman. These people are attacking birth control. Do they have air conditioning in their caves?”
It was a perfect evening, with a full moon sparkling on the river, as guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while milling outside around the couple’s gorgeous pool. Nobody seemed to miss the entertainment that had been scheduled for the event at Oak Harbor Club, relishing instead catching up with old friends, and meeting new like-minded acquaintances.
“It is such a wonderful organization; it does so many things for so many people,” said Nancy Sugahara, the party’s gracious hostess. “The people who are against it only focus on one small piece of it.”
There was a sense of camaraderie, bonding and kindred spirits among the group, and all seemed to be re-energized with a sense of purpose. And, despite the seriousness of the subject, there was a great deal of levity and relief, along with gratitude for the outpouring of community support following this latest attack.
Briefly addressing the gathering, Lillian Tamayo, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast, commented on the increasing fight to protect women’s health initiatives, especially in light of recent attempts to cut funding.
“You got mad and you took matters into your own hands,” said Tamayo, likening the efforts of the Vero Beach’s Planned Parenthood supporters to The Little Engine that Could. “I’m honored to stand with you.”
A soft spoken Byron Sugahara stepped up saying, “When Oak Harbor cancelled, it made me so angry. This is America. If you want to believe what you believe that’s fine, but don’t go creeping around the bushes to stop others from having their say.”