By Rodney Hays
Even in an affluent area like Collin County, there are still plenty of people in need. There is only so much that area churches and other organizations can do. A new group of ladies in Prosper is planning to step in the gap to help even more.
The newly formed Prosper Ladies Association is at work signing up members and already hit the ground running with its first of three fundraisers, the Holiday Market.
The Holiday Market in the past has been organized by PISD staff first at Baker Elementary and then for Cockrell Elementary.
This year’s market will be held on Monday, Nov. 18 from 6-9 pm. at 3 R’s Ranch located at 1695 N. Coit Road (Coit Road between Prosper Trail and F.M. 1461).
The PLA only began about two months ago. It was the brainchild of a group of ladies who have lead philanthropic efforts around Prosper for several years. The president of the organization if Lena Smith, the wife of Prosper Mayor Ray Smith.
She said while sitting in a local church office one day she overheard a conversation where a needy family was being turned down for assistance. Smith couldn’t believe it. After a conversation with the pastor, she found out that the local churches can’t help everyone that asks for it. Most churches focus on the needs of those hurting in their own congregations first. Smith said she understood but still wanted to help.
"That was just unacceptable to me," Smith said.
It wasn’t her first time to help. About a year ago, Smith was one of the ladies who spearheaded an effort to help a family who lost their home to a fire.
"I started noticing that it was the same group of ladies helping every time," she said. She thought surely their were others wanting to help. So, she started checking around to see if maybe there was a group like the Junior League already helping in Prosper. When she didn’t find one, she formed one: The Prosper Ladies Association.
She said she formed it after attending meetings of the McKinney Ladies Association and the Frisco Junior League. She like both organizations but wanted something that concentrated on Prosper residents first. She gathered the other handful of helpers and started meeting.
The group wants to help area residents by partnering with other ministries and helping people on their own as well. Smith and others have already met with Bethlehem Place food pantry, Cornerstone Network and the women’s shelter in Plano.
The group set a lofty goal of 500 members the first year. After just two meetings, the group is nearing 100 and should meet that mark by the next meeting in November. The PLA has applied for a 501-C status, non-profit status.
The group meets on the second Monday of each month from 7-9 p.m. at Gentle Creek Golf Club. Their meetings will follow the school year from September to May with summers off.
Membership in the group is $50 per year. With that registration money and the money from the three fundraisers (two more next spring), the group hopes to make a difference in Prosper. Smith said 100% of the proceeds will go to help making that difference. They also hope that the meetings can be an outlet of social interaction and well as making decisions to help the community. Membership is open not just to Prosper ladies, but any lady in the area that wants to help, Smith said.
The head of the publicity chair Tiffany Smith (no relation to Lena) has lived in Prosper for 2 1/2 years and has looked for a place like the PLA.
"My husband and I have a heart for missions," Tiffany Smith said. "I was looking for a place to serve. A place that already had the infrastructure in place." She found that place in the PLA and joined at the October meeting and volunteered to chair one of the sub-committees.
The Holiday Market should be a big event for the new group. It will feature a one-stop holiday shopping experience with food and fun. The market will have a variety of vendors with great gift items for holiday shopping lists.
Admission for the event is $5. For those looking to sell holiday goods at the market, space is still available. For more information, contact Donna Breedlove at 469-481-2149 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Prosper Ladies Association, visit the group’s website at www.prosperladiesassociation.com. They also have a Facebook page.
Lena Smith said the opportunity is exciting and scary at the same time. But she believes it will live up to the motto of the group: To become the heart of Prosper.
"It’s good for the city and it’s good for the area," Lena Smith said.