Members of Women in Focus Inc. celebrate at the annual MLK "I Have a Dream" Ball.

Women in Focus hosted its 33rd annual “I Have a Dream” Scholarship Ball to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 19 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center with the goal of raising a large amount of money for scholarships for local students of color.

“What I love about the ball is the warm feeling of everybody that comes to the ball who are happy to be there to support the mission of Women in Focus, which is to give college scholarships to students of color,” says longtime Women in Focus Inc. member Sally Hestad, who served as the 2019 “I Have A Dream” Ball co-chair. She also is the ball treasurer for Women in Focus Inc. “This shows that they are all dedicated to education and really know the value of a great education and they’ve chosen to party for a great cause.”

Women in Focus members [l-r) Verona Morgan, Emilie Songolo, and Edith Hilliard enjoy the MLK “I Have a Dream” Ball.

About 325 people turned out for this annual event held at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center that is the major fundraiser for Women In Focus Inc., a local non-profit dedicated to supporting the education of students of color in the Madison community. The popular Madison band Kinfolk – who play many diverse musical styles including traditional jazz, mainstream R&B, funk, Latin, and Jamaican-based rhythms – kept the ball attendees dancing all night long.
Kinfolk perform at the annual Women in Focus Inc. “I Have a Dream” Ball.

“There is just this palpable feeling of happiness in everybody’s face at the event,” Hestad says. “It’s just a wonderful event because of that.”

Since its formation in 1983, Women in Focus has awarded over $500,000 worth of scholarships for students of color in the Madison area who are pursuing college and continuing education degrees. Some scholarships also are granted to adult students returning to college after a hiatus for various reasons.

Women in Focus, Inc.

“All of our sponsors have given us substantial money to support scholarships, but each and every person who comes to the event, no matter how much they have given, plays a part,” Hestad says.

“Every year, it’s just the same or better as far as the community warmth that is evident at the “I Have a Dream” Ball,” she adds. “There’s such a sense of communal purpose in the room. It’s such a happy event and a wonderful atmosphere.”

Women In Focus, Inc. will recognize high school students chosen to receive 2019 “I Have a Dream” scholarships at a special ceremony in April. Community members who were not able to get to this year’s “I Have a Dream” Ball can still donate to this year’s scholarships by clicking here.