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Published April 19, 2011
Volume 19, Number 4


Girls Night Out Networking Sponsors Blue Star Mom Care Package Drive   

Approaching its third anniversary, the Girls Night Out Networking group (GNON for short) is about to cross a major threshold. While steadily building the ranks of women attending its fun-filled monthly gatherings—from 12 at the first meeting to an average of 100 today—GNON is now blending a new ingredient into the mix: community outreach.

“At our next meeting, on May 12th, we will be collecting goods for the Blue Star Moms' Care Packages project,” says GNON founder and Pleasanton business owner Frances Hewitt. “This is the first time we are going beyond our usual format of women-to-women networking in an informal setting, and Blue Star Moms is a wonderful organization to start with.”

The gift drive integrates well with GNON's typical gatherings, which are designed “to provide an opportunity where women empower each other in a 'fun' and 'informal' setting for the sake of camaraderie and business development,” according to the group's mission statement.

The mixers begin anytime after 5 p.m. and wrap up by 9. While the structure is casual, introductions are usually held at 6:45. Attendees are encouraged to bring business cards, fliers, samples, raffle items, or any other information they would like to share with the group. Friends are welcome. “GNON’ers enjoy evening cocktails and yummy appetizers, and everyone socializes at their own pace,” Hewitt relates.

The Blue Star Moms is a local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America, which was started during World War II to support U.S. troops abroad. The self-described “non-partisan, non-political non-sectarian, non-discriminatory, and non-profit organization” periodically sends “a little bit of home” to male and female soldiers serving around the world.

The assortment of items that go into the care packages illustrates just how meaningful the donations are. GNONers who attend the May mixer can make their contributions from a host of different categories, from basics like socks and t-shirts to instant or pre-packaged foods and snacks like gum, beef jerky, and trail mix. Personal items like foot powder, sun-protecting lip balm, and double-A batteries are always appreciated. Especially welcome are the “day-brighteners”--silly putty, nerf and tennis balls, yo-yos, and crossword and soduko puzzles, along with the classic stand-bys, paperback books, CDs, and DVDs. Just as at home, bags of ground coffee from Peets or Starbucks (the brand names are special requests) are also in high demand.

Hewitt is enthusiastic about participating in the collection drive as an extension of GNON’s service orientation. “There are a ton of networking groups out here, but GNON is unique,” she says. “You can really feel the passion these women have for wanting to help each other out.”

The popularity of the sessions is confirmed not only by GNON's email list of 450-plus but the distance many attendees are willing to travel—from Brentwood and Discovery Bay to Castro Valley and Los Altos. Hewitt recently trademarked the GNON logo and, in response to several inquiries, is exploring the establishment of chapters elsewhere in the Bay Area.

The May gathering will be held at the Pleasanton Satellite Wagering Facility at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. In June, GNON will celebrate its third anniversary at Callipe Golf Course. For more information, visit www.gnontrivalley.com.  

 

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