Business Women plan wine festival
Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Deborah Gayle had no idea it would grow into a charitable organization with more than 70 members when she started a group for Suffolk businesswomen in January 2010.
“I had gotten together a small group of downtown businesswomen at the time to do social networking,” said the president of title insurance and closing services company TitleQuest, which she started in the same year she founded Suffolk Business Women.
“We had other business organizations throughout Suffolk and into Isle of Wight that showed interest. Two years into it, we started inquiries about donations for charitable organizations.”
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After gaining nonprofit status, Gayle said, the group began community outreach projects supporting causes like Suffolk Humane, ForKids and Toys For Tots, to name a few.
Now, the group is planning Suffolk’s first wine and beer festival, to be held at the former Tidewater Community College campus at the end of College Drive on April 25.
The Suffolk Wine Festival will be a “huge project,” Gayle said, raising money for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Suffolk’s Rotary clubs and her group’s scholarship fund for local high school graduates.
The Tidewater Community College Foundation voted to approve the event for the picturesque former site of the college’s Portsmouth campus, according to Gayle. Already signed up are 12 wineries and eight local brewers, while a section of the festival dubbed Cheese Board will feature different types of cheeses.
In another new project, Gayle said, a committee is taking applications for a sick local child whose wish will be fulfilled via donations.
“We have the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Social Services and some of the local School Board members helping select the child,” Gayle said. “We are taking donations from business owners to help fund it — tax-deductible, or course.”
Selecting the child will be hard, she said. “The most critical case” will ultimately be selected.
“We are trying to support our local community,” Gayle said, “and children are dear to all of our hearts.”
Suffolk Business Women is open to Suffolk women who own a business and women employed by a Suffolk business.
The group meets the second Tuesday of each month at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn. Networking is from 5 to 6 p.m. and the business meeting is from 6 to 7 p.m.
“Our goal is much larger than it was in the beginning,” Gayle said. “(Now) it’s to give back to the community. Obviously, we (also) do network, and there are times we have guest speakers.”
Gayle said her business has grown from two to five full-time employees. They’re a close-knit team. “My philosophy is: Treat an employee like family, and they will be family,” she said.
To inquire about sponsorship opportunities for the wine and beer festival or learn more about Suffolk Business Women, Deborah Gayle can be reached at 802-0388, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.