High School Theater with a Big Impact

Students at the Friends Select School perform in  Chicago

Students at the Friends Select School perform in Chicago


A Culture of Giving

Every year, the Friends Select School (FSS) theater department chooses a charity to support through their productions, in service of their mission to "educate, entertain, inform, and transform." 

When FSS produced Chicago for their high school musical in April, they chose to raise funds for Women in Transition. 

FSS Theater Arts Coordinator Donna Romero creates a culture of giving within her program, and connects the chosen charity to the theme of the performance. She explains, "Before the show, I asked the students to remember the women we were performing this for, and that performing is a privilege. I reminded them to take in all the love and applause they were about to receive and send it back to the women we were really doing this for." The musical raised $454.00 for WIT. 

Thank you Friends Select School for your generous support!

Maria & Mary Ann: 10 Years of Remembering Katie

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"Every year, it was emotional for us. We're still blown away by the fact that she was murdered. Every year, it was hard... but we needed to keep her memory alive."

In 2008, Mary Ann Brancaccio and Maria Vanni, owners of August Restaurant, lost their friend and employee Katie McCormick to domestic violence. Katie was shot to death by her boyfriend, who then killed himself.

The community - employees and regular patrons - of August Restaurant were stunned. "There were signs and we had no idea," Mary Ann said.

In honor of Katie, and to raise funds and awareness of domestic violence, Mary Ann and Maria started to host the Katie Dinner at August Restaurant. For nearly ten years, Mary Ann and Maria organized a dinner in February - the anniversary month of Katie's death - with a raffle and a performance by jazz artist Jacqui Naylor. Proceeds from the Katie Dinner and the raffle were donated to WIT.

In October 2017, they held the Katie Dinner for two nights. It was their last Katie Dinner - and their last dinner as August Restaurant. Mary Ann and Maria have closed a chapter in their lives: 14 years of running August Restaurant, and almost 10 years of Katie Dinners, in memory of their dear friend.

"We did say to people, 'This is the last dinner we're doing, but we still want people to remember to give for domestic violence resources and raise awareness for it. It still exists."

We at WIT are extremely grateful to Mary Ann and Maria for their years of  support. Thank you for standing with us against domestic violence, and for the honor of remembering Katie with the community of August Restaurant. 

Join Mary Ann and Maria and support WIT's lifesaving services.

Contact us at slifson@helpwomen.org or 215.564.5301 x125 about making a gift or organizing a fundraiser to benefit WIT. 

Shannon: Party with a Purpose

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Shannon*, a former WIT client and a member of the Survivors Network, hosts a birthday party every year with an interesting admissions fee: 2 SEPTA tokens (or more). At the end of the night, she collects the tokens so she can donate them to WIT. 

Her inspiration? Coming to WIT, listening to women's stories in Sister Circle, and realizing that transportation - and the cost of transportation - was a real barrier for some clients. 

"Some people don't even know it's a need," she said. "After being here, I could see the need. They spoke about not being able to get away... that means transportation. If they had the emergency token to get somewhere..." 

Last fall was Shannon's third year throwing a birthday party just to collect tokens. Her 8-year-old granddaughter stood at the door and collected the "admissions" tokens, and even donated her own tips back to WIT to purchase more tokens. Altogether, they collected 60 SEPTA tokens for WIT clients. 

As Shannon said: "You hold the door for the person behind you."  


*name has been changed for confidentiality