Women Helping Women

Group to hold clothing sale fundraiser

The Highland Women’s Collaborative is a loosely knit group that supports one another, learns from one another and tries to do some good in the community, according to Diana Polack of Garrison, who organized it in 2018.

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, it will host its second annual clothing swap and sale, with proceeds directed to a program in Malawi, Africa, through the nonprofit Women Together Global.

The sale, at Create Community in Nelsonville, will include clothing donated by members and their friends, including designer pieces, priced from $5 to $40. Bargain items will be $20 for a bag.

Polack says she created the collaborative because, after moving to the area several years ago, with her children grown and her business having only a few employees, she felt isolated.

A meet-up between the Highland Women’s Collaborative and Hudson Valley Women in Business (Photo provided)

“Helping women connect is my thing,” she explains. “When I lived in New Jersey for eight years, I facilitated a chapter of a women’s entrepreneurial group and I met so many amazing women. I loved being able to bounce ideas off them. I don’t think women are always good at asking for things, but when it becomes collaborative, that’s a different story.”

In Garrison, Polack connected with Jen McCreery, director of the Desmond-Fish Public Library. While talking “about the idea” at Barber & Brew in Cold Spring, they realized they were sitting in a perfect spot to host the meetings. Co-owner Tara Caroll not only liked the idea but said she wanted to attend.

“Our space was relatively new, and it had turned out to be a great place for the community to gather,” Caroll recalls. “It had started to feel like our living room! The group has become very special to me. Not only have I connected with many other women in our community in a professional way, but also on a personal level that provides a strong network of support in everyday life. Even when we are not gathered together, we are still together.”

The group meets for two hours once a month, on a Monday night. There is often a speaker or activity, plus time for “networking, philanthropy and just having a safe space,” Polack explains. (At the next meeting, at 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Barber & Brew, Gail Kreitzer will share practical ways to manage, prioritize and distill the relentless onslaught of tasks and demands.)

The women who attend the gatherings run the gamut. “We have store owners, nonprofit leaders, health and wellness coaches and other professionals, plus a retired woman and a divorced woman who comes with her daughter,” says Polack. “The age range is early 30s through 70s, and most of the women come from Beacon, Cold Spring and Garrison, with a few from Wappingers and some from across the river. This group is not about handing business cards to each other right away. Women like to do business with those they trust.”

Dani Locastro of Cold Spring says she found the group invaluable as she transitioned from a New York City job as a textile designer into opening her own business, Heartful Yoga. “It is an amazing resource of intelligent, supportive women who want to empower other women,” she says.

Philanthropy is a component, too. Women Together Global, which will benefit from the clothing sale, was founded by Dr. Natasha Anushri Anandaraja, a pediatrician at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital, to aid girls and women in developing countries. The clothing sale last year raised $1,000, Polack says, and this year the goal is $5,000.

“One of the best medicines for me is to make a new connection — not a business one, but a human one,” Polack says. “To be able to do this with the amazing women of Malawi, and to feel that we are able to help — with real and direct impact, has been deeply gratifying.”

Create Community is located at 11 Peekskill Road in Nelsonville. The cash-only sale will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31; noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1; and noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2.

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