The Rochester International Event Center was a very busy place Tuesday, as the 13th annual Power of the Purse event was in full swing.
Power of the Purse is a signature event presented by the United Way of Olmsted County Women United.
"Women United, which is a group of women from around of community, come together to host an event to help our children succeed in school," said Jerome Ferson, United Way of Olmsted County President.
The goal of each Power of the Purse event is to raise money for children's literacy initiatives and awareness for area youth to reach their full potential.
"Entering kindergarten ready to learn and being able to read at a third grade reading level in third grade." said Ferson. "But it's about helping our children be successful in their lives, which starts with a strong foundation in education."
Before the luncheon, there was a silent auction of donated new and gently used brand-name purses.
This year's keynote speaker was Shannon Huffman Polson.
"I think it's a real honor to be here with everybody that's here today supporting the United Way and the really important work that they do in this community and others," said Polson. "I feel like it's an honor to have a chance to give a message that hopefully they will be able to take back to their work with some renewed enthusiasm and excitement."
During her time in the military, Polson became one of the first women to fly the Apache helicopter in the U.S. Army.
"Really the focus of the speech today is drawing on the stories and the lessons learned during those eight years in uniform," said Polson. "I feel like it's an honor to share those experiences, the challenges that I faced, the ways that I found my way through them, how I learned from my own failings as well. And I hope that would be something that would be inspirational to those who are facing a number of challenges in their work with United Way."
Polson's story includes a lot of grit and determination, something United Way says are two qualities that people experiencing poverty must conjure up.
NewsCenter's Caitlin Alexander served as master of ceremonies for the event.