Regardless of age or race, women in Merced County were encouraged to become stronger mentors, aware of their health and well-being during the ‘We Are Here’ Women of the Central Valley Women’s Symposium event at Gateway Gardens in downtown Merced.
The event, which took place March 23 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., was a one day gathering that aimed to motivate the advancement of women in the Merced community and inspire them to help promote the importance of alliance building and civic involvement.
Approximately 120 women participated in the symposium that included a day full of motivation, speakers, workshops and networking and was organized by Building Healthy Communities and Lift While You Lead Mentoring Network - UC Merced.
“The power of women collectively is unexplainable and remarkable,” said Sol Rivas, Merced BHC Hub Manager and one of the founding 4 mothers of the We Are Here Women’s Symposium. “This event brought together a diverse group of women throughout the Central Valley to build an alliance, share resources, encourage involvement and promote wellness.”
Building Healthy Communities Merced is a coalition of residents, young people, agencies, and community-based organizations working together to create and encourage thriving communities where all children and families can live healthy, safe and productive lives.
“The day was filled with extraordinary keynote speakers and workshops that elevated the important issues women wanted to talk about,” Rivas said adding, “Like someone said at the conference, a young lady, ‘I can feel the strength of women power!’ That what was felt that day...women of all ages and backgrounds came to together to share their stories and empower each other so we can grow stronger together.”
According to event organizers this is the first time the symposium takes place in Merced. The goal of the event was to showcase and highlight to Women of the Central Valley and the many accomplishments and movements they are making to better their communities as well as to provided a space for wellness, networking, and learning.
“This is the beginning of something bigger,” said Rivas, adding that organizers plan to have a series of learning opportunities throughout the year, directly focusing on what came about via the symposium, including mentorship opportunities in areas of health and wellbeing, financial and policy and politics.
The event featured guest speakers Virginia Madueño, former mayor of Riverbank, businesswoman and president and CEO of IMAGEN LLC and democratic candidate for California’s 10th congressional district in the 2018 primary and Whitney Pirtle, professor of sociology at UC Merced, who was awarded a prestigious Ford Postdoctoral.