PEPS Alumni Party for PEPS

Cocktail Party in Support of PEPS

~ By Meg Butterworth, PEPS mom and volunteer

Heinen last mtg

Camille’s PEPS Group

Camille Heinen wears many hats. She is a mother of two, a wife, a software developer, and a PEPS volunteer and fundraiser extraordinaire!

I had the pleasure of chatting with Camille in December, amid the holiday season rush. It was her day off from Symetra, a financial services company in Bellevue (add “commuter” to her pile of hats). She graciously made time to meet me for coffee with her four-year old daughter, Claire in tow. Over lattees and hot chocolate, Camille shared with me how valuable PEPS has been to her over the past seven years and how she has chosen to give back.

As a native Seattleite, Camille was able to rely on nearby family to help out when her first daughter, Elise arrived. Yet, she still took her doctor’s advice to participate in a PEPS Group. She was attracted to the idea of having a built-in weekly activity to get her out of the house with her newborn. In full disclosure, she admitted that she initially had low expectations for the group. She was surprised to learn that everyone met in members’ homes and took turns hosting. She was expecting a more formal meeting space and environment. However, she quickly took pleasure in the in-home meetings and comfortable, welcoming atmosphere they provided. After the fourth or fifth meeting she felt like her group began to really gel and friendships soon took root. Her group met consistently once a week for two years. Now, several years later, the moms still get together four to five times a year for dinner and even an annual retreat.

Camille said the biggest take away from her PEPS experience was having a place to go where you could share the joys and challenges of parenting.

“You can build a community and connections and provide encouragement to others who, like you are at a vulnerable time in life. It’s that vulnerability that allows people to connect so deeply.”

It was this positive experience that inspired Camille to become such an active PEPS volunteer. Today, she gets to share her message about community building while conducting monthly PEPS While You’re Waiting Drop-In Sessions and also as a group facilitator. She has facilitated approximately five evening groups and loves the chance to meet new parents during the early weeks when they are “like zombies just coming out of the new parent fog!” Not only does she enjoy discussing the ups and downs of parenthood but she also benefits from the opportunity to create new friendships with people from all over Seattle.

More recently, Camille has decided to do some fundraising for PEPS. At the beginning of 2012 she and her husband hosted a PEPS cocktail party. They wanted to make it informal and intimate, allowing everyone time to catch up and kick off the New Year while also supporting PEPS. Throughout the evening, all eight couples took a moment to place a contribution of their choice into one of the envelopes Camille set out next to a bowl. She and her husband hoped to raise enough money to fund one new PEPS family through the PEPS Scholarship Fund. To their surprise, after a night of food, dancing and laughter Camille and her group successfully raised nearly $500, enough to support three new families!

Cocktail Party for PEPS

Camille’s Cocktail Party to Benefit PEPS

After such a positive experience, Camille looks forward to organizing future PEPS fundraisers. She feels that this mode of fundraising offers yet another avenue for people to give back to PEPS. Especially for those who are unable to be a group facilitator, help out with While You’re Waiting Drop-In Sessions or be a Table Captain at the Annual Luncheon, but are seeking a hands on way to support PEPS. People can make them as formal or informal as they want and tie them into an existing event or holiday. There are so many creative ways to go about it. Camille and I had fun thinking of different fundraising ideas. How about a joint garage sale? Everyone has baby gear and toys they no longer need or have outgrown. Why not get your PEPS pals and friends together and organize a garage sale to support PEPS? I recently hosted a Stella & Dot jewelry party and donated the commission from sales to PEPS. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, why not get your friends together to enjoy some wine and chocolate for PEPS?

We just started a new year and a slew of holidays and events await us. Now is your time to get creative and think of how you can make 2013 all the more meaningful by putting together a fundraiser of your own. If you have any questions about how to go about it, Camille and the PEPS office are here to help out!

About the Author


Meg Butterworth lives in NW Seattle with her husband and two children. She joined PEPS in 2006 and still meets with her group to celebrate and share in all of parenting’s joys, surprises, challenges and curveballs. She enjoys writing, cooking, gardening and catching up on all of her favorite shows while the kids are in bed. She has volunteered for PEPS as a group facilitator, fundraiser and more recently as a contributor to the PEPS Newsletter.

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