AAWL student division hosts online silent auction, donates to Arkansas Women’s Outreach
February 26 - March 4, 2018
By Becca Bona
As a service based organization, the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers (AAWL) aims to honor and support women in the legal profession. While serving professionals, AAWL also consists of a student division at the William H. Bowen School of Law, which provides a social outlet for students as well as a mentoring program.
This year’s president, Sydney Rasch, is a third year part-time student, and has been involved with the organization throughout her time at school.
“I got involved with AAWL right after I started law school. […] I want to be involved because I was never involved in anything in undergrad or high school,” she says.
She ran for part-time vice president, and has been active ever since. While settling in at school, Rasch has made connections through AAWL, and already knows what her area of practice will be when she graduates in 2019.
“I work in a bankruptcy law firm and I love it,” she says. Rasch is also well-known for her photography business – Art/Photography By Sydney Rasch. While she enjoys photographing everything from weddings to food, she has also found a way to tie her legal and political interests into her art, by photographing candidates and legal events. “I’m going to be a law-tographer, really,” she laughs.
Traditionally, the student chapter of AAWL has presented a silent auction at Barrister’s Ball – the law school prom that takes place every year in April. Through these funds as well as those raised through T-shirt sales, the organization is able to donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity, including in the past – Arkansas Women and Children’s First.
As a new way to raise funds, the organization presented their first Murder Mystery event, two years ago. Providing an entertaining evening to guests, the money raised has increased the impact AAWL is able to make.
“We raised $5,000 last year and were able to endow a scholarship,” says Rasch. “Whoever is the newly elected president of the chapter in April will receive it.”
Currently, the chapter has raised $2,220, and Rasch hopes to raise $2500 to $3000 more to support this year’s charity – Arkansas Women’s Outreach (AWO).
AWO is a local nonprofit that aims to promote the wellbeing of local homeless women through access to adequate health services and education. Founded in 2015 and lead by Katy Simmons and Rachel Achor, the nonprofit works with various partners to provide access to mental health support and counseling, free HIV testing, reproductive health and prenatal education through a partnership with UAMS, as well as domestic violence support.
Rasch considers AWO a great organization to partner with, as she says, “I want to take our money where it makes the biggest impact on the community.”
The AAWL student chapter hopes to raise more money this year by hosting the annual auction in an online environment, making it easier for law students, legal professionals, and the public at large to participate.
“Last year we auctioned leftover items in a Facebook group, and we made twice as much as we had at the actual auction,” Rasch explains. “So, I thought, ‘Why don’t we do this for the whole thing?’ Plus, it doesn’t have to just be law students, anyone can bid.
Auction items include custom framing, tickets to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, a class at the Painted Pig and so much more.
“We’re charity focused,” says Rasch, “And we’re trying to do a lot of networking. If people want to get involved, a huge thing for us is just coming to our events when they’re open to the public. Buy tickets to Murder Mystery, help us with our Silent Auction, buy things at the Silent Auction, or order a T-shirt.”
The auction will take place during Women’s Week Celebration, from March 5 – 9. During that time the AAWL student division will also honor Judge Paula Jones with their Distinguished Woman of the Year, for her work in the juvenile justice system.
For more information on the auction, to provide an auction item or find out how to get invited to the Facebook group, email Rasch at email@example.com.
Alicia Baotner, Shelly Shaw, Laren Reiche and Sydney Rasch gather to celebrate Women’s Week in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Rasch)