Posted by: getthenac | January 28, 2011

A lunch to honor extraordinary women, while helping moms and babies

from Wayne Wood:

The annual “Celebration of Women Mentoring Women” lunch is Feb. 25. This is an annual event that’s a fundraiser for Vanderbilt’s Center for Health Services’ Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW) program, which has been around for 28 years and is built on the principles of empowering women from low income households to gain confidence, self-sufficiency, and access to health and social services.

In other words, a good thing.

This year’s honorees are:

Mahalia Howard, the executive director of Grace M. Eaton Childcare and Early Learning Center, a North Nashville center dedicated to low income working families. Under Howard’s leadership, the facility has developed into a 3-Star center, the highest rating given by the State of Tennessee. Today, 85 percent of the children at the center are entering Metro Nashville kindergarten at or above an appropriate reading, compared to 40 percent before she came to the center.  Howard is a mentor to young women, encouraging them to graduate from high school and pursue higher education.

Minda Lazarov served as director of MIHOW from 1998 to 2006.  During that time, she expanded the MIHOW program to serve more rural, isolated, and low income areas; developed the current accreditation process and mentored site workers across the Southeast.  She has been a trailblazer for the health of mothers and infants through her leadership and dedication to a number of programs, including the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), UNICEF, and Wellstart International. Lazarov is writing a book about her life, which includes being diagnosed with cancer, first at age 15, and the lessons she has drawn from her experiences.

Candy Markman is an advocate for people needing to make good choices, whether they be incarcerated individuals ready to make a fresh start, or middle school-aged children, who are beginning to make important life decisions. In 1974, originating from the Vanderbilt Prison Project, Markman helped start the Nashville Dismas House, a transitional home supporting the reconciliation of prisoners to society through connections to students and community volunteers.  In 1985 she launched Better Decisions, a life skills program for incarcerated women. Markman now serves as the planning director for Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s after-school initiatives.  She is launching the Nashville After Zone Alliance which seeks to provide high quality after-school programs for middle school youth.

To purchase tickets, call Robin Baskin at 292-4674 or visit and print the registration form.

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