Open Your Purse for Change raises $117,000 for Montgomery County Women's Center

By: Liz Grimm
| Published 03/16/2018


MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas -- It’s amazing how a simple purse could bring about so much inspiration and power. But a purse is exactly what caught Ally Seder’s attention several years ago when she toured the Montgomery County Women’s Center (MCWC).

“When I first toured the shelter, I realized many of the women had to flee a very dangerous situation, often leaving their purse behind as they left in the middle of the night with nothing but their children to seek safety,” explained Ally Seder, who chaired the 2018 MCWC 5th annual Open Your Purse for Change luncheon fundraiser on Feb. 23, 2018 at The Woodlands Country Club – Palmer Clubhouse along with co-chairs Shirelle Chimenti and Terry Larson.

The symbolic purse gave Seder the idea to host a fundraising luncheon in which ladies would donate new or gently-loved handbags to be auctioned to benefit the Women’s Center.

This year marked the fifth year for Open You Purse for Change, and it was more popular and successful than ever with a crowd of 200 guests in attendance who helped raise over $117,000. In addition to the purse auction, the fundraising was fueled by an announcement that $10,000 would be donated by Ronnie Matthews of Great American Title Co., which was quickly and energetically matched by the trio of Mike Seder and Ray Larson of Re/Max The Woodlands & Spring and Brian Schweiker of Re/Max The Woodlands & Spring Oak Ridge.

The event was heartfeltly punctuated by a special guest speaker who candidly shared her journey of going from a domestic “victim” to a strong “survivor” thanks to the help and support she received from the Montgomery County Women’s Center.

In addition to a silent auction of donated couture purses from the community – from designers such as Kate Spade and Chanel to Elaine Turner and Dior – there was a raffle for fun travel, sports packages and paraphernalia, and kids’ items. Aud Cakes presented ultra-realistic mock purse design decorated cakes at each table as a visual and scrumptious delight.

Sponsors included: $7,500 - The Signorelli Family; $5,000 - Ally & Mike Seder, Kristi & George Lindahl, Shirelle Chimenti & Friends, and Great American Title Co.; $2,500 - Re/Max The Woodlands & Spring Oak Ridge, Danna Furnace-Grimes / Re/Max The Woodlands & Spring, Brandey Porter, Jason Higham / Cherry Creek Mortgage, Candi Glenn & Friends, and The Howard Hughes Corporation.

The enthusiastic committee who supported chair Ally Seder and co-chairs Shirelle Chimenti and Terry Larson included Ayesha Fayaz, Iram Taylor, Denise Lipar, Liz Allen, Betty Murphy, Beth Griffith, Katty Phan, Avery Palacios and Farah Moinuddin.

Proceeds benefited the Montgomery County Women’s Center (MCWC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a United Way agency whose mission is to lead the effort in preventing domestic violence and sexual assault through crisis intervention, assistance, advocacy, empowerment and social change. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter, transitional housing, advocacy, counseling, legal services and community outreach.

For more information about the Montgomery County Women’s Center, please call (936) 441-4044 or the 24-hour crisis hotline at (936) 441-7273 or visit

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