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Seven scholarships awarded at Power of the Purse fundraiser

May 22, 2019

The annual Flagler College Power of the Purse® fundraiser was once again an unparalleled success, attracting over 340 enthusiastic supporters to the College’s historic Ponce de Leon Hall on May 9. The sold-out event kicked off with a cocktail/mocktail reception, a silent auction of designer purses and a jewelry raffle and culminated with a luncheon in the Grand Dining Room, including memorable comments from several noteworthy speakers.

Two ladies - Robin Cooper and Beverly Carmichael, standing shoulder to should for the camera.

Co-founders Robin Cooper and Dr. Beverly Carmichael, '72.

In its fifth year, the Power of the Purse® serves as the signature fundraising event for the Flagler College Women of Vision Advisory Board, which is comprised of philanthropic women focused on ensuring scholarship opportunities for female students at the College. Seven scholarships were awarded this year, the number having grown each year since the inaugural fundraiser at which two scholarships were given. Funds raised from the Power of the Purse® are also used to grow the Women of Vision endowment fund. 

This year’s event was dedicated to the Women of Vision co-founders, the late Robin Cooper and Dr. Beverly Carmichael, the latter recently retired as Flagler’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

“These two remarkable women spearheaded the effort to launch the Women of Vision Fund in 2014,” said Women of Vision Advisory Board Chair Kathi Keller.  “No one ever imagined it would be such a success.”

Power of the Purse® Chair Linda Allen-Hawkins expressed her gratitude saying, “We would like to thank all the active participants in today’s event, including the Women of Vision Advisory Board, committee members, donors, sponsors and in-kind sponsors.  We are so blessed with your generosity.”

Featured speaker for the event was Sylvia Longmire, an accessible travel writer, travel agent, author and entrepreneur who is also a service-disabled veteran, single mother and the former Ms. Wheelchair USA 2016. She travels around the world in her power wheelchair, usually solo, and writes about the accessibility of her destinations on her travel blog, “Spin the Globe.” 

In her speech, entitled “How Fear, Laughter and Travel Will Set You Free,” Longmire asserted that traveling alone is the most liberating thing she has ever done. 

“I can go where I want, when I want and how I want,” she said. “But the real gift of solo travel is the interaction you have with people that you wouldn’t normally meet when you have a companion for constant conversation. And I consider my wheelchair to be the instrument that provides me with freedom of movement, not a limitation.”   

Longmire offered her audience her favorite travel tips which included:  have zero expectations of your destination; don’t be a tourist, be a traveler; be positive and make the best of any bad situation; venture off the beaten path; let people help you and allow people to be kind; ask to be taken to where the locals live and work – beyond the “Disneyland” façade; don’t judge others based on the actions of their governments.

She concluded by saying, “I implore you to go forth and venture into the world. You will be afraid, but go anyway. Soon, your soul will be on its way to real freedom.”  

Power of the Purse® luncheon attendees were also treated to inspiring comments by rising senior Morgan Hutchison, winner of the newly created Robin Cooper Memorial Scholarship. Hutchison is a media studies and sociology double major whose principal focus is to increase awareness of the problems associated with mental illness and to help eliminate the stigma which surrounds it.

Since arriving at Flagler College, she has helped found a chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, setting up meetings, expert panel discussions, mental health first aid training and a mental health fair. As president of the organization next year, Hutchison hopes to carry on this mission.

“I hope to use my degree in communications to learn how to use television, film and social media to help the users’ mental health,” said Hutchison. “I’d like to earn my master’s and doctoral degrees in media, communications and cultural studies and someday return to Flagler College as a professor to share what I have learned.”            

“Morgan Hutchison exemplifies Robin Cooper’s legacy of generosity and genuine concern for others,” said Kathi Keller. “She is an ideal recipient of the new scholarship named for Robin.” 

Flagler College and the Women of Vision Advisory Board wish to thank the following Power of the Purse® sponsors, including Bozard Ford Lincoln, Leonard’s Studio, Flagler Health+, Forrest, Inc., The Bailey Group, Florida East Coast Railway, Diane and Skeeter Key, Declaration & Co., Burkhardt Sales & Service and Matt and Lisa Bond. In-kind sponsors include Future Friends, Monarch Studio, St. Augustine Distillery, The St. Augustine Record, St. Augustine Social, Whetstone Chocolates, Fabulizz Design Studio, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Constellation Brands.

For information about supporting the Women of Vision Fund, visit

Additional photos of the event can be found here.

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