Bourbon, Cigars, and Stella

Women’s Fund Event on May 1 Will Launch 100 Good Men Campaign

Kate Kane

Kate Kane

The name isn’t what one would expect from an event sponsored by the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. And that, Kate Kane notes, is exactly the point.

“We have lots of women sponsors and donors, but not as many men,” said Kane, president of the Women’s Fund board, in explaining the rationale behind “100 Good Men – Bourbon, Cigars, & Stella,” an event slated for May 1 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow.

“This is a chance to broaden our scope of funders and reach out to people prominently attached to the business community in Springfield — to get more men involved in what, really, are critical issues for everybody,” she said, noting that key issues for the Women’s Fund include economic justice, freedom from violence, and access to education. “These are issues that affect the whole community, not just women.”

Thus, an event that appeals to men. Product sponsors include M.S. Walker for the bourbon, Williams Distributing for the Stella Artois beer, and Connecticut Cigar Co. Attendees will also enjoy an array of food stations, as well as live music. BusinessWest is the event’s media sponsor.

The goal, Kane said, is to get 100 professional men to pledge $1,000 — annually or over a two-year commitment — for WFWM projects.

“This is an outreach,” she said. “We have decided to put priority status on Hampden County, in particular men in the Hampden County professional community. Our ties in Hampden County aren’t as strong as they are in some other areas, and this should cement our connection to the community and hopefully broaden the base of people we can call on.”

The event is part of a larger effort, called the 100 Good Men Campaign, with several ambitions: to connect men in Western Mass. to the mission and impact of the Women’s Fund, to celebrate and publicly acknowledge men’s support of the women and girls in their lives, to educate the community about the cooperation between women and men in meeting social challenges, and to encourage men’s philanthropic support of the Women’s Fund.

The event runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and tickets cost $100. Like all money the Women’s Fund takes in, proceeds will be deployed in the four counties of Western Mass.

Michelle Depelteau, who chairs the Women’s Fund’s corporate committee, stressed that the evening is not just for men. “Women will be there as well. The idea is reaching deeper into the business community with hopes of spreading a greater awareness of what the Women’s Fund is doing.”

Ten ‘honorary hosts’ will be introduced at the event, essentially the first handful of men to commit to financially supporting the campaign. These include Jeremy Casey, president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield; Paul Doherty, partner with Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy; Jeff Fialky, partner with Bacon Wilson, P.C.; Bill Trudeau, president of the Insurance Center of New England; Bill Wagner, president of Chicopee Savings Bank; Anthony Cignoli, president of A.L. Cignoli Co., Michael Vann, principal at the Vann Group; U.S. Rep. Richard Neal; state Rep. Aaron Vega; and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

“It’s an idea the committee came up with to move our mission forward,” Kane said. “It’s a fun idea, a little different for us, not something we’ve tried before. We’re going to test it and see how it goes.”

Added Depelteau, “we’re hoping to open people’s eyes to the potential they have to make a difference in our region. This event is about creating a just community for the women and girls who work among us.”

— Joseph Bednar

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