Oct. 7, 2003 – For Sen. Lorraine Berry's 8th annual Women's Conference on Saturday, you can leave your Prozak, Paxil or Zoloft at home. In fact, you can simply get rid of it.
"Women acting in a mode of loving, sincere, caring sisterhood can do more to alleviate stress than medications," Berry said in announcing the theme of this year's meeting: "A Wake-up Call! Stress, a Silent Killer — Coping Through Sisterhood."
The conference is scheduled to take place in the ballroom of Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Berry said she decided to take the somewhat different tack from former conferences after becoming aware of the growing toll that stress is taking on women. She said studies show that stress is "dramatically spiraling — one in three persons suffers from hypertension, much of it from stress."
For the last few years, Berry's forums have focused on family issues involving children and youth, and on examining relationships, responsibilities and sexual awareness. The 2001 theme was "What Women Don't Talk, About," namely sex and money, not necessarily in the same breath. And last year's was "Families Under Siege," looking especially at children as the victims of relationships torn asunder.
Berry said she has pored over voluminous articles on stress management in preparing for Saturday's gathering. "I like best the recommended talk therapy," which consists of openly discussing your anger, fears and other personal concerns with trusted friends, she said. The approach involves being "part of a rich social network."
Discussing elements of that "network" during the morning will be a group of widely varied panelists: St. Croix Family Court Judge Patricia Steele; estate planner Linda Baxter; clergy member Sharon Walker; school psychologist Cira E. Burke; educator Dolores Thomas; Dr. Olaf Hendricks, a psychiatrist; and Richard Austin, a clergy member and attorney. Lynda Brown, a psychiatric nurse specialist, will be the panel moderator.
The conference is being conducted by the Violet Foundation — "Violet" standing for Virgin Islanders Organized for Leadership, Education and Training. It's dedicated to Marie Catherine Simmons for her "untiring efforts" in the success of this and past conferences.
Author and motivational speaker Jamila Harris, president of Harris Associates Global, will give the breakfast address. Harris hosts the "Business Voice" program on WVWI Radio and is a columnist for the Atlanta Tribune and The Atlanta Voice.
Ivy K. Moses is the luncheon speaker. Moses is the founder of HOPE — Helping Others in a Positive Environment — an organization devoted to helping victims of HIV/AIDS. She has had a long and varied career in social work.
In the afternoon, there will be a give-and-take session between the morning panelists and the audience.
The Full Body Ensemble and Kingdom Life International Church will provide music, and Pastor Toi Barbel-Smith of the International Gospel Center of St. Thomas will deliver the invocation.
Conference sponsors are Banco Popular, Bank of Nova Scotia, the Education Department, Galt Capital, School Busing Inc., and Marina Market.
Tickets for the event, including breakfast and lunch, are $25. For reservations and further information, call Berry's office at 693-3507.
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