For Immediate Release

For more information contact
Terri Speirs, Director of Community Relations
cell: 515-770-5155

A virtual Women Helping Women event raises $201,000 to provide mental health services for women, children and families in need

Mary M. Riche, 2020 Women Helping Women Honoree (high resolution image)

May 21, 2020, Des Moines, Iowa – More than 450 guests participated in the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center’s 22nd annual Women Helping Women event which raised $201,000. Funds will support mental health counseling, education, training and other services that impact women, children and families who are underinsured or from low income households. The May 15 event was transformed from a ballroom luncheon format to a live, online program for the first time in the annual event’s two-decade history, due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Mary M. Riche was the 2020 event honoree. She was recognized for her work as a mental health therapist, community leader, pragmatic executive and for her long-standing support for vulnerable women. In her live remarks, Mary laced in photos of her garden as a metaphor for how to care for one another. Her message was clear: “While I am honored to stand here today, this event is not about me. Today is about the women, the girls, the families and all the Center’s clients, regardless of their ability to pay, who need these vital, mental health services.”

Jackie Servellon, 2020 Women Helping Women keynote speaker (high resolution image)

Jackie Servellon delivered the keynote speech, Wounded Healer: My Story of Surviving Violence, Seeking Help, and Creating Beauty. As a survivor of domestic violence that started in childhood, Jackie shared her journey of hope and healing. Her remarks included wisdom she’s learned through therapy: “You can’t ‘un-do’ violence. You can’t un-do memories of violence. And you can’t un-do the sadness that comes along with it either. Therapy isn’t a tool to ‘fix’ the broken, because we are not broken.” Jackie shared how art and community helps her to heal.

She continued: “Today, I am certain that we can raise enough funds to provide access for these families and survivors that do not have the financial support or resources so they can live a life that isn’t shattered by trauma response from abuse.”

“A very special thank you goes to our generous sponsors, donors, volunteers and event participants,” said Laurie Betts Sloterdyk, the Center’s director of development, “The community stepped up to help others, and we are grateful for the support.”

Since 1998 the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center’s Women Helping Women annual event has raised more than $1.4 million, providing access and care to thousands of women – a population who experience poverty, crime and abuse at disproportionately high levels – and children and families. The 2020 virtual program is available for replay at

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit organization with a mission to walk with people through counseling and education to find hope and healing, and to live a fulfilling life. The Center is one of the only providers in Greater Des Moines that serves people from all walks of life including those who are uninsured or underinsured.

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