The Lane Center for Service and Leadership at Wesleyan College will be hosting their first Women with Purpose Festival on Saturday, October 21, 2017, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the campus of Wesleyan College in Macon.

The event will feature musicians, artists, vendors, inflatable bounce houses for children, food vendors, and informational booths. Children ages 16 and under will get in free, and adult admission is only $10. The proceeds raised at the event will be donated to the Crisis Line & Safe House in Macon.

The Lane Center for Service and Leadership at Wesleyan College coordinates community outreach and leadership opportunities for college students. They have partnerships with forty local organizations, ranging from homes for the elderly and schools to animal shelters and children’s homes.

2017 Wesleyan Women with Purpose Festival 2016 photo by Jessica Whitley
Participants in 2016 Women with Purpose Festival. Photo by Jessica Whitley.

“We do a lot of community service projects throughout the year,” explains Jill Amos, the Lane Center’s Director for Service and Leadership and a 1987 alumna of Wesleyan College.

When the Lane Center opened at Wesleyan nearly a decade ago, one of the first partnerships they supported was with Anthony Homes, one of the Macon Housing Authority’s largest low-income housing projects. Wesleyan students went into Anthony Homes to tutor and mentor children living in the community.

Changes in federal guidelines meant that the Wesleyan students no longer had a space at Anthony Homes. Amos came up with the idea to start a Saturday school for the children, and she brought the partnership, called Aunt Maggie’s Kitchen Table, onto the Wesleyan campus under the direction of the Lane Center.

“The children who participate are immersed into all of our social, cultural, and education activities on our campus,” Amos says, “They go to the art gallery and they attend sporting events, and we do learning through those activities.”

Aunt Maggie’s Kitchen Table also partners with the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Stratford, and various social services agencies who help to provide experiences and resources to the children of Anthony Homes and their parents. There is also a community garden where the children learn to grow vegetables and later, harvest them and prepare them in healthful meals.

The Lane Center also hosts two big events on campus which are called WOW! A Day. One WOW! A Day event is held in the spring, and the other is held in the fall. The event is a large-scale effort to coordinate a day of off-campus community service by Wesleyan’s students, faculty, and staff. The goal is to get as many members of the Wesleyan community as possible actively engaged in service in Macon’s neediest communities. These include shelters, schools, neighborhoods, and more.

“WOW! A Day is led and run by our student Servant Leaders at Wesleyan with the help of other student volunteers,” Amos explains. “We usually have 200-250 volunteers that we send out, sometimes to 25 to 40 different locations. Sometimes, we send a larger group of fifty or more volunteers to one location, and they get to see how much a big group of volunteers can accomplish in just one day when they work together.”

The Servant Leaders are women who go beyond individual volunteer experiences. They learn how to plan, organize, fund, market, staff, and implement large-scale philanthropic events for the benefit of other organizations in the community.

“To give you an idea of how committed our students must be,” Amos continue, “to be a Servant Leader at Wesleyan, the students must complete fifty hours of community service each semester to maintain their status as servant leaders.”

One of the most meaningful relationships for the Wesleyan students is their partnership with the Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia, which is located in Macon. The Crisis Line helps victims of domestic violence and their children to obtain legal protection from abusers, as well as providing a safe shelter for women and families to escape abuse and other resources for families in crisis. They also provide support to victims of sexual assault.

For their fall 2017 WOW! A Day project, the Servant Leaders decided that instead of going into the community, they would partner with Crisis Line host a large public service festival and bring the community to Wesleyan. The event is called the Women with Purpose Festival.

Wesleyan student SaVana Cameron is a talented local musician who has participated in other music events in Macon, such as Bragg Jam. She is also a student leader on the campus. In 2016, she started the Women With Purpose Festival in downtown Macon at the 567 Center for Renewal.

SaVana organized the first Women with Purpose Festival, and she enlisted many other talented local performers to participate in the festival, along with visual artists and poets.

“I really wanted to bring female musicians and artists together in the community in a space where we could perform together to promote sisterhood and community among the female artists, and to provide a safe space for them to share their stories and experiences,” explains SaVana. “Advocacy and education was also an important part of it, which is why all of the proceeds went to the Crisis Line & Safe House.”

Without Wesleyan’s support last year, SaVana said, the event would not have flowed as smoothly, and this year, SaVana has allowed the Lane Center take full control of the event and she is working as the stage manager for the event. She will also perform, along with Chance Mormon, Louise Warren, and Sophie Lyann. The Wesleyan Washboard Band and the Wesleyannes will also perform.

“This event is really about empowering young women in the community,” says Amos.

She hopes to have many locally-owned, women-led businesses represented at the festival, including women whose businesses are still emerging. “We have invited women whose businesses are just launching and women who run nonprofit businesses to come, get their names out, get the word out about what they are doing in our community,” Amos says.

For nonprofit businesses and agencies, there is no cost for booth space.

The Women with Purpose Festival is not only for businesswomen, though. Informational booths will help provide educational materials. Among the education, providers will be a lactation consultant. Social service agencies, counselors, and nonprofit organizations will help connect families in need with services available in Macon.

There will be plenty of activities for families with children to enjoy. There will be three bouncy houses for children to bounce in. Wesleyan student volunteers will be painting faces, creating henna tattoos for children and adults, and painting nails at various stations. Vendors will have shaved ice treats for purchase from Pinkie’s Shaved Ice. Throughout the day. local musicians will entertain the crowd from a main stage, and there will be room for families to bring blankets and spread out on the lawn.

The proceeds from the event will be donated to the Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia. The Women with Purpose Festival will be held from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Wesleyan College, which is located at 4760 Forsyth Road, Macon, Georgia, 31210. The cost of admission is $10 per person over age 16, and it is free for children age 16 and below.

For more information about the Women with Purpose Festival, please visit the Women with Purpose Festival page on Facebook.



Published by Lauren Deal

Lauren Deal is an attorney-at-law with the Deal Law Firm, LLC. She is also a wife, mother of two, a former teacher and assignment editor for Macon Community News.