Walking through the stunning historic downtown of St. Augustine, passersby will usually find students of Flagler College busily making their way to campus or a taking well-deserved break from studies under the shade of a tree on the green. But as these promising youth laugh in the warm sun and rush off to class, there are a select few amongst them who have been singled out for a gift that will allow them to more easily live out their dreams and impact the world. The Women of Vision Fund of Flagler College is the giver of these gifts.
Led by Dr. Beverly Carmichael and Robin Cooper, The Women of Vision Fund provides scholarships and educational opportunities for exceptional female students at Flagler College. The fund uses the strength of local women to celebrate and encourage the success of their young beneficiaries.
As the board liaison, Beverly has both a personal tie to the scholarship as well as the college that operates it. An alumna of Flagler, Beverly greatly appreciates her role in catapulting new generations into the society that awaits their unique gifts and talents. “I’m a graduate of the 1972 first class of Flagler College,” says Beverly. After graduating along with a class of thirty-two students, Beverly was asked to stay on as a Resident Supervisor of the Dormitory and later as the Assistant Dean of Students. After leaving Flagler College, Beverly continued her education to attain her Master’s and Doctorate Degrees and moved to Wisconsin to raise a family with her husband. In 2013, Beverly returned to her Alma Mater as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement. The work she accomplished in this position inspired the birth of the scholarship, “In advancement work, my responsibilities include fundraising, development, and alumni. One of the priorities is to expand our donor and friend base of Flagler College. That’s what gave me the idea to start The Women of Vision Fund. That was the spark!”
It was then that Beverly met with Robin Cooper, an active member of the community already giving her time and resources to charitable work. Robin – who is now the board’s chair – was quite interested in the idea and was more than happy to join Beverly in the great endeavor. Their meeting was the founding of The Women of Vision Fund.
It takes a great deal of work and proceeds to keep The Women of Vision Fund growing and moving forward successfully. The fund’s most substantial support comes from an annual event called Power of the Purse. Power of the Purse is an event that hosts over three-hundred and fifty guests. Each year of the event’s three-year history has seen it quickly sold out. Attendees of the luncheon are seated at tables where purses of many styles and designs are placed for a silent auction. Along with the funds that are garnered by the silent auction for the purses are those received by purchases of art pieces and beautiful orchids.
“We truly couldn’t have accomplished our goal each year in Women of Vision,” Beverly shares warmly, “without the service, leadership, support, and vision of the women who serve on the advisory board. Working together we have been able to furnish scholarships for deserving and needy students.”