This year’s Jackson County Women’s Conference had its highest turnout yet with almost 250 women in attendance.
The event, used to connect and encourage women, usually draws about 175 attendees.
“It was just a great day,” said Gerri Smith, membership services director with the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce. “It really empowered us to do better and kind of raised our goals in the workplace and at home and also how to balance both of them.”
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The 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. conference, organized and sponsored by the chamber, was at Celebrations Receptions and Events Center in Seymour. It featured nearly 30 vendors for shopping, door prizes, breakfast and lunch and speakers who told their stories of success and failure.
Smith credits the high turnout to Administrative Professionals Day on Wednesday, which is used to recognize the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists and other administrative support professionals.
“We encouraged employers to send a thank-you instead of flowers or dinners,” she said. “A lot of companies did that this year, and it kind of honors them for all their hard work and dedication.”
She also said the keynote speaker, Jennifer McKenna Weinbaum, who grew up in Seymour, brought in a large number of attendees.
Weinbaum, a 1988 Seymour High School graduate who now lives in Atlanta, told the audience she is on a mission to teach women to love themselves and find their feminine spirit in order to have health and happiness.
The change management consultant, strategic facilitator and empowerment coach for JMac Consulting also encouraged women to recognize their self-worth, particularly in male-dominated situations, such as the workplace.
“We shouldn’t have to be like men to make our way,” Weinbaum said. “We need to band together and take care of each other to change the corporate environment.”
Weinbaum shared her personal story, referring to her successes and challenges in her career, motherhood, diagnoses of breast cancer and fibromyalgia, financial woes and meeting her birth mother.
But even in the lowest and hardest moments, she said everything is in perfect divine order.
“Sometimes, our darkest moments are the only thing that lead us to our brightest time,” she said.
One Seymour resident who had attends the conference every year said Wednesday’s event was exceptionally good.
“It’s wonderful to get out and network with the women,” Jeri Burbrink said.
Burbrink also was inspired from Weinbaum’s speech. She said she often finds herself working herself so hard thinking that’s what she’s supposed to do or needs to do.
But Weinbaum advised women that working yourself into the ground to the point of exhaustion is not honorable, and they should take the time to focus on one’s health and wellness.
“It was empowering because she made us realize our worth,” Burbrink said.
The event also was a chance for vendors to expose their products to the community.
Alli Sparks set up a booth with items from her new store that just opened in Brownstown called Funky Junk. Located behind McDonald’s, the store focuses on handmade accessories, jewelry, hats, boutique clothing and home decor.
She said the event was an excellent opportunity considering she just opened a month ago.
“I feel like I met a wide variety of women, not just local but other places, too, which is good for me since I just started my business,” she said.