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Girl Power Fundraiser Brings Out Crowds

Hundreds of Women from across Westchester, and even a few men, came out to support girls empowerment on Wednesday night, at the Girls Inc . Westchester's "Power of the Purse" fundraiser in Ardsley.

Jean Chatzky, the best selling author and financial editor for NBC's Today Show, was emcee for the night. It is easy to overlook poverty in affluent Westchester but there are plenty of girls in need in the county, Chatzky told the crowd of almost 500 people  who had gathered in a cavernous reception hall on Lawrence Street.

Despite the perception of wealth "20 percent of girls live in households with income of less than 25 percent," Chatzky, a Briarcliff resident, said. "That's an estimated 33,000 girls ages 9 to 18."

The event raised money for programs to help girls succeed.

In addition to a silent auction that offered things like a weekend at the Jersey Shore and a behind the scenes tour of The Today Show, the event featured a live auction of 11 designer handbags. Each bag was created to reflect the personality of  one of 11 high-achieving Westchester women and were cleverly called "Purse-o-Nality" bags.

State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers), who is known for sporting a signature scarf, was the model for Purse-o-Nality bag Number 3. Like it's namesake, the Andrea Stewart-Cousins bag, which was designed by Shell Roberts,  came draped with pretty silk scarf.

The real stars of the night were fifteen girls who took turns strutting down the runway and displaying the purses. Sabrina Standard, of White Plains, was the "Ambassador" for the Andrea Stewart-Cousins bag, which was auctioned for $450.

"When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer," Sabrina said. "Invest in girls like me."

It seemed that girls like Sabrina had already heeded the advice of Sally Baker, Girls Inc Westchester's executive director.

"A man is not a financial plan," Baker told the crowd, to much applause.

Girls Inc. was founded almost 150 years ago as a national organization.  Girls Inc. Westchester was founded in 2007 with the aim of helping underprivileged girls reach their full potential. Wednesday's event was Westchester's first annual "Power of the Purse" fundraiser.

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