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All for one and one for all: women turnout when Simolari calls

Shirley Simolari (center) sent invitations to nearly 100 women who have shared experiences in her life to join her for a photo, celebrating the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts' 10th anniversary. Reminder Publications photo courtesy of Denise Smith
By Natasha Clark

Assistant Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Shirley Simolari refuses to take sole credit for what she has turned out to be. She is a firm believer that every resource shared with another human is an opportunity well-served, a living amalgam of what perseverance, a plan and the outcome of what happens when people help other people.

That is why she sent close to 100 invitations to women in the Pioneer Valley who have shared resources or influenced her life to join her at Symphony Hall on Oct. 7 to take a "very special photograph that she will give to The Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts in celebration of the organization's 10th anniversary next month."

Director of Creative Solutions for the new NUVO Bank in Springfield, Simolari has been a member and/or affiliated with several local organizations.

"There are so many women that I've met through the course of my life that have really helped me to get things done," Simolari said, a day after the photo shoot. "I think that in a sense when I look at the group of women that actually came out many of them are women that I actually met volunteering in the community."

Women captured in the photograph run the gamut in professions Executive Director of the Dunbar Community Center Cherylyn Hatchett, Nina Berman of the Women's Business Owners Alliance (WBOA), the day's photographer Denise Smith, even her ex-husband's wife and former sister-in-law who just participated in a kidney transplant with one another eight weeks ago.

"These are just women who have been a blessing. It was sort of my way to capture them all because they mean so much to me," Simolari said.

But Simolari also means just as much to these women as well. Berman, former president of the WBOA, met Simolari when she used to reside over the board and said that she is a woman who is very open and connects with people on a deep level.

"What I find amazing is that she really takes to heart not just the big gifts that people give, but she also really gravitates and really appreciates the little things that people share," Berman said.

Simolari is also spreading her commitment to inspiration and women all over the map. Recently she has put out an open call to women to head over to Cozumel, Mexico and participate in the 2008 Professional Women's Vacation retreat, Nov. 1 to 8. A handful of spots still remain open for this complimentary stay at Cozumel by the Sea, an Oceanfront Luxury Penthouse. Those going to on the trip can stay in participating vacation rentals and mingle, network, shop, golf, snorkel and more. They are only required to participate in one mandatory activity.

It is out of the box thinking that causes Berman to credit her as a woman with "great ideas."

"My wish for The Women's Fund and for all the women in Western Massachusetts is to continue to share their resources with all of the generations so that we can together continue to make the lives of women and children and our communities a better place," Simolari added. "It was a nice way of saying thank you and it was a photograph I will cherish for life."