By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — Women Who Rock Nashville (WWRN) is holding its gala after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, honoring over 50 influential local women from all walks of life.
The event takes place June 11 from 3 p.m.- 10 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt hotel, benefitting A Love of Hope, a transitional house supporting up to 14 women as they navigate from a place of pain and uncertainty to one of prosperity and stability.
Honorees are Vice Mayor Brenda Haywood, Sandra Sepulveda, Senator Brenda Gilmore, Metro councilwoman Zulfat Suara, Yolanda Hockett, Angela Taylor, Dr. Annabelle Morgan, Denotra Sneed, Yolanda Morgan and Jacqueline Kelly. Hosts and presenters include Vicki Yates, Mayor John Cooper and Pastor Howard Jones, among others.
Founded by Tanya Davis-Thirkield, the 501c3 organization hosts events throughout the year to engage, network and acknowledge women, with a benefit concert series taking place August 7 and a benefit 5k Walk/Run September 24.
Davis said she was inspired by every name on the list for the gala but was particularly moved by nominee and local entrepreneur Arica Fowler Eggleston, whose cleaning service was one of many essential occupations operating during the pandemic.
Kierra Perkins, one of Middle Tennessee’s youngest CEOs, is also a nominee this year. Kandles by Kierra served as a vendor at the 2019 WWRN gala and was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and in the New York Times for her wildly successful candle making startup.
Davis tapped Perkins to create a “Timeless Luxury” candle line to benefit A Love of Hope.
A Detroit native, Davis came to Nashville after a tumultuous life. She describes that time, in which she was an addict, as “plagued with drug use, prostitution, domestic violence, and homelessness, which led to crime and subsequent jail time,” according to the WWRN website. Now, she’s an author, consultant, beauty maven, producer, and publisher of WWRN magazine.
Without skipping a beat, she’ll tell you her saving grace was finding faith as she spent her days in jail. It took a lot of inward reflection and effort, but she began to work her way toward freedom— Not just physically but mentally, she said.
These days she uses her gifts to help others, and the transitional house is an endeavor close to her heart. She knows all too well the complex web of addiction and abuse, and A Love of Hope is one tool in her arsenal to help other women get out of those situations and start anew.
While spiritual growth is a core component of the vision of A Love of Hope, Davis said that the house will welcome women who need its programs regardless of differences in faith, including group and individual therapy, education and skills training, especially in the realms of entrepreneurship, technology and money management.
The goal, Davis said, is to provide an individualized, holistic approach to helping each resident tap into their gifts and talents and manifest prosperity in their lives while connecting them with the resources needed to not only get their foot in the door but to thrive.
Too often, she said, women in difficult situations are given the bare minimum in terms of tools, and often are at a disadvantage from the very beginning.
According to A Love of Hope’s mission statement, “Working with our treatment team, they will begin to shape a recovery plan fortified with proven clinical best practices that leads toward the life they want to live.”
To donate, or for information on the organization, its vision and/or events, visit womenwhorocknashville.org.