ABOVE PHOTO: Pictured from (left to right): Afea Tucker and honorees Sarah Glover, Stephanie Humphrey and Cherri Gregg (Photo courtesy of Bill Allen, Perception Media)
By Afea Tucker
Local retailer, Joan Shepp, hosted its annual “Women of Style and Substance” event in honor of Black History Month on February 19. Celebrating its 20th year, the event honored 40 African American women who contribute to the growth and betterment of the community.
Guests celebrated with an evening of champagne, cupcakes and light fare. As an added bonus, artist Denise Fike gifted hand painted portraits embellished with gold leaf as keepsakes.
Tuesday Gordon Gaines and Joan Shepp, created the “Women of Style and Substance” reception and fashion affair in 2000. Together they’ve honored over 400 African-American women throughout the Philadelphia region.
The 2020 honorees ranged from TV and radio personalities to health professionals and civil leaders.
Their photographs are displayed in the Joan Shepp store window on Chestnut Street, and will remain on display until the end of the month.
City Representative Sheila Hess presented a Mayoral Proclamation to Gordon Gaines and Shepp on behalf of Mayor Jim Kenney.
The proclamation recognized the two for their continued commitment to honor African American women, as well as their dedication to raising money and awareness to different organizations over the last 20 years.
Following the proclamation presentation, the guests of honor were presented with certificates by broadcast journalist and the evening’s emcee, Monique Braxton.
Each woman of substance and style was given the chance to introduce themselves with a short 30 second speech.
Throughout the evening, people shopped and had a great time exploring Joan Shepp’s new spring arrivals and jewelry from African-American-owned vendor, Historical Dream Jewelry.
Singer, Melba Moore surprised everyone with a beautiful performance. Other performances included songs by singer, Yaya Lora, and tunes by DJ, DJJ2J.
In addition to the tradition of honoring African-American women in the community, money is donated to a different charity organization each year. A percentage of the day’s sales benefited Stoney’s Girls, a fund created to support the children of the late Erwena Rebecca Stoney.
Stoney, a lifelong friend of Gordan Gaines’ was an influential member of the Philadelphia African American community also. She lost her battle with breast cancer and left behind her three young grandchildren whom she took in and raised since birth.
The Stoney’s Girls fund was set up to help make certain that young ladies will have opportunities to achieve great things in life.
During Gordon Gaines’ touching remembrance of her good friend, she instructed Stoney’s grandchildren to look at everyone one in the room. She went on to say that the room is full of remarkable and extraordinary leaders, and that we are now a part of their village.
The 2020 Joan Shepp Women of Style and Substance honorees are: Alex Holley, Cherri Gregg, Ciji Carr-McManus, Darisha K. Parker, Desiree Dezzie Neal, Dr. Deborah Willis, Dr. Kellie Jones, Dr. Emma Chappell, Dr. Robin Smith, Dr. Sonya Lott, Dr. Tashekah Smith, Janelle Burrell, Janine Spruill, Jennie Bennett, Jennifer Rodriguez, Kathleen Ogilvie Greene, Kendra Brooks, Kim Avant-Babb, Lanez Perry, Laverne Lee-Tanner, Lia Valencia Key, Maori Karmael Holmes, Margaret Livingston, Marilou Watson, Melanie Burney, Merium Burwell, Mina “SayWhat” Llona, Monica Miraglio, Myla Thomas, Rhona Austin, Ronnie Howard, Sarah Glover, Sharon Williams Losier, Stephanie Humphrey, Vanessa Garrett Harley, Keir Bradford-Grey, Blanche Carney, Jacqueline F. Allen, Darlene Miller, and Sheriff Rochelle Bilal.