WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Rev. Noelle Damico, of White Plains, will be the keynote speaker for the first Westchester Women’s Summit, which she hopes will engage the 200-plus women signed up for the free event in identifying the issues that matter most to them.
The event is March 2 at the Yonkers Riverfront Library and is organized by the Westchester Women’s Agenda, a coalition of not-for-profits, corporations and individuals advocating for local women’s issues. Those include financial well being, housing and homeless prevention, violence against women, health, children’s services and immigration.
Cuts to social programs in the 2013 Westchester County budget drew Damico, who works with the Presbyterian Church, to this summit. In particular, the budget increases the parent share of subsidized child care from 20 to 27 percent, which Damico said could be a devastating blow economically to many families.
“That’s affecting people who already are working and living right on the edge of making it here in Westchester County," she said. “And it really puts them in an impossible situation.”
The poverty rate, defined as a family of four earning less than $22,113 annually, rose from 7.4 percent in 2007 to 8.8 percent in 2011 for Westchester County families, according to the U.S. Census Bureau . The numbers are even greater for families headed by a woman with no husband present.
The Westchester Women’s Agenda invited Damico to speak at the event, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., to inspire conversation among those attending, not only that day but going forward.
“We expect this summit to be very generative,” Damico said. “It doesn’t end at 1:30 p.m. on March 2. We are expecting from this to identify and build upon the capacity that we already have in the room.”
Participants will use interactive voting during the meeting to identify priorities for action going forward. When asked what comes after the summit, Damico said that will be decided March 2.
“This is not a summit where those who come will be talked at,” she said. “Rather, it’s a summit to engage all of us. And so, all of the presentations are geared around starting these conversations in that room”
After Damico speaks, groups will break out and talk about various issues. There also will be presenters who have been directly impacted by cuts to social services, like the percentage of child care that is subsidized by the county, she said.
Although the event has reached capacity, the Westchester Women's Agenda has kept registration open as it looks to accommodate more peoople.
Registration is free, but you must register to attend and can do so online .