Regardless of the pandemic, the Interactive Community for Girls is having fun with a banner 12 months of native information
In early 2020, the National Interactive Network’s Federation for Women was ready to expand regionally, with new chapters in the counties of Washington, Westmoreland and Butler.
“Obviously this has been put on hold,” said Dawn Pomaybo, WIN executive director.
Everything seemed to go as planned when members of the networking and philanthropic organization met for their regular Wednesday meeting at the Walnut Grill in Collier Township last February.
A few weeks later everything changed. And WIN changed immediately.
“We went into this virtual world very well,” said Pomaybo. “We started a virtual lunch every first Wednesday of the month and had incredible support and attendance.”
Members also had the opportunity to meet online, for example for Friday happy hour and house party game nights.
Photo courtesy of Dominique Murray Photography)
Maria Allshouse is congratulated by Kim Adley, a nominated colleague, during the organization’s February event in Fogo de Chão.
“We also ran some virtual competitions on social media and called it the Rise Up Challenge,” said Pomaybo. “It was about promoting friendliness and supporting people in these difficult times.”
According to Kelly Frost, WIN Pittsburgh director in South Park Township, support was a key component from the organization’s perspective.
“Our goal was to really keep our members together because we saw a lot of different groups that kind of broke up and people kind of went down and out. So we wanted certain times that everyone was looking forward to, ”she said. “And I think that really made a difference.”
The membership structure of WIN has also been changed.
“Because of the pandemic, many people had financial problems and we decided to use a barter system. You could trade in your services or volunteering at some of our events, ”explained Frost in exchange for a 50% discount.
The so-called WIN exchange led to an unexpected milestone: “It was the best year of membership in the history of WIN,” reported Pomaybo.
By the summer the organization was able to hold a few personal events and those in charge decided to plan a Christmas party for December with the announcement of WIN woman of the year.
“And then we had to postpone February because of the pandemic,” said Frost. “Instead of ‘woe to me and what are we going to do,’ we just turned around and made it bigger and better. We had even more people signing up to be a part of it. “
The event at the Fogo de Chão restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh was another success.
From the left, you can see the WIN Woman of the Year nominees, Maria Allshouse, Kim Adley, Lori Mesta and Rachel Dayoub. (Dominique Murray Photography)
“It was a night of inspiration and a tremendous amount of support and love,” said Pomaybo, “just something I think everyone needed now.”
The Woman of the Year winner was South Fayette Township-based Maria Allshouse, a certified health and wellness trainer who teaches diet and behavior change toward a physically healthy lifestyle. She also goes for walks after converting her own lifestyle into significant weight loss and maintenance.
Allshouse was named the winner of the Rise Up Challenge that same evening.
The other nominees for Woman of the Year were Kim Adley, owner of Passport to Pittsburgh, a bespoke tour company; Rachel Dayoub, who owns Bella Bronze Airbrush Tanning; and Lori Mesta, Business Development Officer at USX Federal Credit Union.
WIN members received nominations based on several criteria, including personal and professional support from women and participation in the organization’s philanthropic causes.
“The women of WIN, we are all in a position in our life or career where we are ready, willing and able to give something back to one another, the community and the organizations we serve”, lives Pomaybo in East Deer Township explains. “Everything we do has a component of mentoring, networking and education and the charity component.”
For example, the Woman of the Year event benefited No Kid Hungry, the only national campaign to end childhood hunger in the United States, and the WIN Hardship Fund.
All of these types of efforts add to the overall mission of WIN, as Pomaybo said:
“We network with a purpose.”
Members of the WIN leadership team are, from left, Dawn Pomaybo, Managing Director; Rhonda Parkhurst, Alecia Suto, Lori Mesta and Dominique Murry, ambassadors; and Kelly Frost, WIN Pittsburgh director. Ambassador Monica Guercio can be seen on the screen behind it.