On an ordinary afternoon in St. Augustine, Fla., a group of extraordinary people met at a local restaurant for a single purpose - to celebrate their accomplishments, share inspiration and encourage each other while enjoying a meal.
They came for their weekly Friday lunch from all walks of life: parents and realtors, mortgage brokers and doctor's assistants, life coaches and flower shop employees. Many represented their own entrepreneurial ventures such as jewelry making, business coaching, spas and health clubs. Regardless of where they came from, they were there for each other, to spend an hour in support and fellowship.
These weekly luncheons are held in five other cities, sponsored by the organization Women Celebrations and attended by both men and women. Each luncheon has a theme that suggests the independence and success to which all people aspire, according to founder Sheryl Lynn. Themes have been as varied as "magnificence," "confidence" and "work." At an "applause" themed gathering, each attendee explained to the group why he or she deserved applause.
Members talked about moving from out of state and changing careers, business successes and personal joys. Each of the speakers received heartfelt applause as they took a moment to "stand in their power," Lynn's expression for people's ability to find success and empowerment within themselves.
It was the need to celebrate everyday things that inspired Lynn to create Women Celebrations. Despite success as a mother of three and an entrepreneur, at the end of the day she felt exhausted and disheartened.
"I was not patting myself on the back upon the completion of these marvelous things. And certainly no one else was either," Lynn said.
In starting Women Celebrations, she created an environment in which support and encouragement played a vital role.
Today, Women Celebrations has a strong presence in northern Florida and more chapters, or "loops," are appearing across the country. The organization is open to everyone wishing to celebrate their lives, share their experiences with others through positive interaction and build a sense of community.