By Joel Hall
Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon brought together more than 70 local women from all walks of life on Thursday, to network, bond, and celebrate the creation of the Riverdale Women's Commission.
The mayor hosted a brunch at the Shamrock Community Use Building in Jonesboro to introduce the commission. Its focus will be on reviewing existing laws and regulations that apply to women, and creating support networks for women in the greater Riverdale area.
The "A Rose for You" Brunch was attended by a number of politicians, state lawmakers, prosecutors, businesswomen, community leaders and female residents.
Wynn-Dixon said she wants the commission to be a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural effort to deal with challenges that impact all women.
"You are all women that share the same joys and burdens," she told an audience on Thursday. "We are going to get together and talk about our universal problems and work things out. Let's put our heads together.
"We really want to annihilate apathy in the community, and it is going to start with women," Wynn-Dixon added. "I want the Korean, Latino, and Haitian communities all to be on the same page. When you have strong women working in the background, things change."
The brunch featured live music, lyrical poetry, personal stories, commentary by state Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro), and a performance by Antonio Allen, saxophonist with the rhythm-and-blues band Five Men on a Stool.
State Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) said while women have made significant strides in the last century, many inequalities still exist. She said the commission will provide "a support system" within which women can help each other.
"In this time of recession, [women] are harder hit because we are newer to the important roles, newer to entrepreneurship," said Seay. "I'm just so excited that the vision was given to our mayor to bring all of us together. All of those things are an enhancement to what we can do."
Yulonda Beauford, president and CEO of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has made similar efforts to help women succeed. She believes the Riverdale Women's Commission may be able to help women outside of the realm of business.
"Our chamber has had our Women in Business Council for the last three years," Beauford said. "What the mayor is doing is bringing [together] people from all sectors of life, not just business. She is reaching out beyond Riverdale.
"It's going to be an opportunity for all of us to prosper, even those who have been around for awhile," Beauford added.
Riverdale City Clerk Stephanie Thomas will serve as the commission's board secretary. She said the commission will eventually include board members and officers who will host financial, business, and personal development seminars.
"There are a lot of women, not only in Riverdale, but in Clayton County that are looking for direction," Thomas said. "It is my hope that people will look back at the footprint we have made."