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On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club (LWRWC) hosted its annual Speakers Series Fundraiser Luncheon that raised over $2,000 and 825 books to benefit HOPE Family Services Children’s Reading Library, “The Book Nook.” The luncheon featured internationally acclaimed author, Lucetta Zaytoun.

The event was held at the LWR Golf & Country Club with more than 80 women in attendance, opened with beautiful music by gifted violinist, Margot Zarzycka, who plays with the Sarasota Orchestra. After a warm welcome from LWRWC President, Kathleen Cleveland, and Event Chairs: Cheryl Breining and Eileen Buzzard, HOPE Family Services CEO, Laurel Lynch, expressed her gratitude to LWRWC for the donation and for bringing the joy of reading to children and their mothers at HOPE’s Domestic Violence Shelter. Laurel explained that inspiring children to read will positively impact their futures. The original idea of the LWRWC was for mothers in the shelter to read to their children, but it is just as valuable (if not more so) for children to read to their mothers.

Keynote speaker, Lucetta Zaytoun, was deeply moved by the mission of HOPE Family Services because she is a courageous survivor of domestic violence. Lucetta shared her own horrific story of her escape with two toddlers from a physically abusive husband, with only two trash bags filled with clothing and toys. After finding the strength to overcome her trauma, she married a man with four children and became a devoted mother to all six kids. When the children were grown, she discovered that her husband was in love with another woman. Finding herself with no career, Lucetta turned tragedy into triumph with a remarkable global journey, backpacking through third world countries, and learning to overcome her fears and find her true identity. When she returned to the US, she became a certified life coach, a bestselling author and an international speaker.  Lucetta wrote a best-selling memoir of her incredible solo journey around the world entitled “It’s Already Tomorrow Here: Never Underestimate the Power of Running Away.” By conquering fear, Lucetta gained remarkable success in her personal and professional life.

The giving women of Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club consistently raise awareness and drive community support for organizations like HOPE Family Services. We cannot thank them enough for their donation of 825 books and $2,000 for HOPE's children's library in our shelter. The donation could not have come at a better time because they will help enhance our summer reading program, which helps children in our shelter overcome the summer learning slide, who are at an even higher risk of the summer slide. Our new Children’s “Book Nook” will help decrease the summer slide by providing the tools needed to achieve their academic goals. We are so grateful for HOPE Heroes like the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club.

Below are some photos from the book drive fundraiser and the finished Book Nook in our safe shelter!

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       Book Nook 5.15.19 1    

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