Hats entertainment! Women’s Club ‘par-tea’ funds scholarships

GYAC students De-Arrah Swoope, Tyjah Warner and Melania Warner. PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

Adorned in everything from fascinators to full-on Easter bonnets, ladies showed off their individual fashion styles during the fourth annual Mad Hatter Tea Party, held at the Vero Beach Women’s Club to fund scholarships for local students.

The historic gem of a building, which dates to 1915 and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, was the perfect backdrop for the delightful afternoon tea.

Tables had been decorated with lovely, mismatched teapots and teacups, and centerpieces of tulips heralded Spring. Guests nibbled on delicious finger sandwiches and petit fours during the whimsical affair as they listened to a performance by members of the Gifford Youth Orchestra.

“Our focus is on music education,” said Casey Lunceford, GYO executive director. He noted that the orchestra, founded in 2003 by Rev. Dr. Crystal Bujol, currently has 79 students, ranging from ages 4 to 18.

“We’re using music education to help students improve their lives and improve their opportunities,” said Lunceford, explaining that students also learn poise, dedication and self-assurance.

Proceeds from the event go toward scholarships for young women at the Gifford Youth Achievement Center to aid in their pursuit of a college education. It is all part of the Vero Beach Women’s Club’s commitment to preserve heritage and empower future generations of women through education.

Noting that GYAC has celebrated 26 years of “Changing lives. Changing futures,” Angelia Perry, GYAC executive director, said, “We’re more than an afterschool program.”

In addition to its afterschool and summer programs for children in grades K to 12, she said they now also provide paid internship programs, an engineering program, college scholarships, and services for adults and seniors.

Several students spoke of the impact GYAC has had on their lives, including Tyjah Warner, who said it has helped her to feel more confident and comfortable talking to others, and Melania Warner, who spoke of being active and engaged in the various clubs she is involved in.

“GYAC has been very beneficial to my life, not only at school but also at home,” said De-Arrah Swoope. “If you were to tell me five years ago that I would be speaking publicly right now, I would have giggled.”

Later, in true “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” style, guests in a variety of fantastical hats decorated in a kaleidoscope of colors, vied for the title of top chapeau in a stiff competition.
The Mad Hatter Tea Party exemplified the commitment of the Women’s Club to celebrate its rich history while actively engaging in philanthropic endeavors that make a difference in the lives of others.

For more information, visit VeroBeachWomensClub.org.

Photos by Joshua Kodis

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