By Angela Higginbotham
Anna Neal is a Jacksonville native, a graduate of Bishop Kenny High School and the University of Florida. Neal previously worked as a speech pathologist for Duval County Public Schools and now gives her time freely to The Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital. She and her husband, Kevin, have two boys and enjoy residing in St. Johns County. Neal is passionate about giving back to her community and helping the children at Wolfson’s.
1.How did The Women’s Board start and what is the main goal of the organization?
In 1972, Ellen Cavert was inspired to create the organization after losing her premature granddaughter. Officially formed in 1973, The Women’s Board has grown from 41 of Ellen Cavert’s friends to nearly 400 dedicated members now.
The board works very hard to further awareness in the community about the services and amazing facilities offered at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. We raise funds to help ensure the best healthcare for each child. The organization has raised more than $27 million for equipment, programs and facilities at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. We have two main fundraising events during the year. Together these events raise almost $1.5 million a year for the hospital.
- Why did you decide to join The Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital?
I joined six years ago. My husband is a physician and I wanted to be involved and help the children. It’s important to support the hospital, I feel very strongly about that. The Women’s Board works very closely with the hospital to find out what the specific needs are, and then we try to help in any way we can. This community is fortunate to have this amazing hospital for our children.
- Who can be a member of The Women’s Board and what is the process for becoming a member?
Women who have completed at least three years of volunteering at Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital are eligible to join. A dedication to The Women’s Board and to the hospital must be shown. We have women of many different ages on the board, and women from all over the city. Although not a large number of the volunteers are from St. Johns County, we do all rely on Wolfson’s to care for our sick or injured children. I would like to encourage more St. Johns County residents to research the website (www.womensboardwch.com) and consider volunteering for this worthy cause.
- You are a chairperson for this year’s 40th anniversary Art & Antiques Show presented by The Women’s Board to benefit Wolfson’s. Tell us about your efforts in preparing for this special event. How can the event goers get their ticket?
I’m one of three chairs for this event. Dearing Thoburn, Heather Moseley and I have worked extremely hard over the past year and a half to help make this fundraiser as successful as it can be. A ‘70s theme was put in place early on, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We have a committee that will decorate the Prime Osborne Convention Center to fit the theme. Dealers will come from all around the country. We will have a dance floor, fun food in remembrance of the era, and we will be dressed to fit the theme. Goldie Hawn will be our featured speaker during the event. We chose her because of her foundation to empower children. She ties in nicely with both the theme and the mission. In between lectures we will have a children’s fashion show. The models will be current and former patients of Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital. We have worked hard to highlight these special children. It’s such an honor for me to be able to play a part in bringing this important fundraiser to life, and I’m so proud of the way the event is shaping up.
The Art and Antiques Show will be held Dec. 2 – 4. For your tickets and other event information, visit www.artandantiquesshow.com.
- When not working with The Women’s Board, what do you enjoy doing with your time?
The planning of the Art and Antiques Show is definitely taking most of my time right now. I do enjoy playing tennis at Julington Creek Plantation. Of course, my boys also keep me very busy. I try really hard to be a good mom and balance it all.
Photo by Angela Higginbotham