YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – This week, our In-Depth segment focuses on a group that’s more than 100 years old. WKBN Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford has more on the Youngstown Business and Professional Women’s Club.

Crawford talked with Dee McFarland and Jessica Foster about how they’ve been able to sustain the organization for so long.

“I think it’s just been a group of committed ladies. A good group of strong women. I would accredit it to the fact that the ladies who become members of this organization become friends and it becomes something you want to do. A place you want to go. You want to go see your friends and make a difference with your friends,” McFarland said.

The group is multi-generational, multi-ethnic and includes businesses of all professional levels, but what is a professional woman?

“Well, a professional woman is really any woman, right? You know, there have been a lot of strides for women in the workplace over the last 100-plus years, right? But there’s still opportunities for growth and the need for individual mentorship, education and networking for women,” Foster said.

McFarland discussed the motivation behind the group continuing to get things done.

“We all have a common goal, and that goal is to empower women through mentorship and education. So again, I think it’s part of that friendship that evolves that we all want to go to the monthly meeting. We want to see each other. We want to know what’s happening with the scholarships, and we do have speakers at each meeting, each monthly meeting. We have guest speakers and we have… member speakers. So you have the opportunity to tell your story and to get to know other members, especially newer members, as they join,” she said.

The Youngstown Business and Professional Women’s Club is hosting a fundraising event in October. It coincides with National Business Women’s Week, which is the third week in October.

“Since 2011, we’ve had a fundraiser that week where we name a woman of the year. We honor a local woman who is in business and who is also empowering women through her hard work and through her philanthropy,” McFarland said.

This year’s event will be held Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Lake Club in Poland.

“We will honor our 2023 Woman of the Year, Lisa Walters. And then we have basket raffles and wine pools and many things to raise money that goes directly to our scholarships,” McFarland said.

Tickets are available online.

“We also have invitations that are sent out to former attendees and members of the community. So, keep an eye out for those,” McFarland said.

Corporate sponsors are also being sought for the event, with several levels of participation.

“The theory is the more we can receive as a donation, the less cost we have for the event and the more money we have to give away into our scholarships,” McFarland said.

One scholarship is the Dr. Anne McMann Scholarship, which is for a woman who attends Youngstown State University. Another is the YBPW Centennial Scholarship, which celebrates the organization being around for 100 years.

“And that scholarship is open to any ladies who attend school in the Valley. It’s also open to nontraditional technical schools, as long as it’s an accredited program,” McFarland said. “This year we awarded two Dr. Anne McMann scholarships to two ladies who attend YSU.