Conferences seek to empower women

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Portageville event will be held tomorrow; Sikeston's on Oct. 10

SIKESTON -- Two upcoming conferences will seek to empower women and make them aware of resources available to take care of themselves.

"I think women tend to take care of everyone else first and themselves last. And these days, there's not a lot of time left" said Tonya Carruth, director of the Family Resource Center in New Madrid. The FRC is one of the sponsors of a women's conference set for Friday in Portageville. "We all need to take a minute, even if it's just five or ten, to take care of ourselves and make sure we're OK."

The Portageville conference will be from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church. A similar conference, themed "Less Stress, More Success," is set to begin with registration at 8 a.m. Oct. 10 at the First Christian Church in Sikeston, and will end around 3 p.m. Both events are free and include speakers, break-out sessions, lunch and door prizes.

Carruth said the conferences have "the same idea, with different people." In fact, she said her staff will facilitate the conference this Friday, but then attend the one in Sikeston as a staff retreat.

And that's something several businesses encourage women to do, said Maude Harris, who is organizing the Sikeston event.

"I have seen some organizations do that," she said. "For instance, at the Extension office, the administration staff is often off that day."

The break-out sessions include crime prevention, handling stress during the holidays, sleep disorders, advanced medical directives, how to make the most out of leisure, healthy cooking and exercise and dance demonstrations.

"There's something for everyone," said Harris. "Everyone will leave with something."

"It's a day all about women, for women," added Carruth. "Take a day off from work and come to the conference and to feel refreshed and rejuvenated so you are a better worker, thinker, mother and so forth."

Women who attend will also learn more about resources they have in the community, and there will be several health screenings, also free of charge.

"What we really try to do is make sure the participants are aware of the services that are in their area," said Harris. "By bringing people together, they'll be able to share ideas and concerns and be able to identify people they can ask questions."

At this Friday's event, the women will be able to really see the results through the motivational speaker, Lillie Kelley of St. Louis. "She starts out as an older woman who is not taking care of herself," said Carruth. "But then she comes back as a new person who takes care of herself and it helps the women understand how important it is to exercise and take care of your body."

The keynote speaker at the Sikeston conference will be Rebekah Schnurbusch of Senior Lifestyles at Missouri Delta Medical Center.

While this will be the fifth year for a women's conference in Sikeston, it's only the second for the New Madrid County event. Carruth said organizers started the conference there because several women had trouble getting to Sikeston.

Last year's conference had about 100 attendees. "And we hope for that and more this year," said Carruth.

About 250 attended Sikeston's women's conference last year, said Harris. She noted that all women are welcome at the event, even those from other areas.

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