On any given week in the St. Petersburg area, several social groups bring women together for evening activity, connectedness, and celebration. This week, OUTCOAST sat down with Anna Leverenz, Founder and President of a popular Facebook social organization, Alt Womyn Events. Anna shared with us why she came to warm and sunny St. Petersburg after leaving the windy city of Chicago, how Alt Womyn Events got started, and why she does what she does.
Anna, where did you grow up?
I lived right in the city of Chicago on the North side. A block away from Lake Shore Drive. I grew up with 2 brothers, one older and one younger. We lived near my mother’s family. My grandfather, from the old country of Greece, came to America in 1923. The Greek love to cook. He owned a restaurant in the city which was a strong influence in my life putting me to work at a very young age of 8 yrs old starting with dishes, then waiting tables at 10 yrs old and on to cooking as I grew older. He taught me about public relations and communication, the meaning of money and savings. He taught me to run a business. Most importantly, he taught me human compassion. With all this knowledge, it gave me great strength and aility to do whatever I put my mind to.
Share with us a favorite childhood story.
As my friends grew up and went with the gangs, I was drawn to sports. I became involved in team sports which opened the door for leadership abilities. Baseball, basketball, volleyball – I was in it and very competitive. I have many trophies to attest to my love of competition and sportsmanship.
It was during sports, and while attending an all-girls school, that I became attracted to women. However, I didn’t know I was a lesbian until after I graduated high school. I met my first love, Kathy, and just knew that she was who I wanted to be with. I was officially out as a lesbian and loving life! Although life has taken us down different roads and we are no longer together, we are still friends 37 yrs later.
If you weren’t born in St Petersburg area, what brought you here?
I came to St Petersburg in 2013 to visit my family. My mother took ill and I chose to stay and care for her.
Share with us some info about your education?
I attended the prestigious Immaculata High School in Northern Chicago. It was a Catholic school for girls. I attended a local 2-year college of general education then pursued a course in restaurant management since I had worked in my family’s restaurant business since 8 yrs old. I later attended school for Real Estate and became a licensed a real estate agent.
How did Alt Womyn Events come about?
Alt Womyn Events came about through a process. I threw my brother a suprise birthday party and invited people through facebook. Over 250 people showed up and it was a big success. My brother suggested I become an event planner. I blew this idea off at first.
Then one night, I went out to hear a local musician. I met some new friends who became influential in my direction of the creation of Alt Womyn Events (AWE). I learned of a calendar page on Facebook for activities throughout the area. It gave me an idea to create events to bring women out of their homes to unite us all in the lesbian community. Several various activities for the variety of interests. Thus started our group of Admins leading these interest events as of February 5, 2016.
How many events do you host a month?
We do anywhere from 3 -7 events per month. These are hosted on a voluntary basis of what each admin enjoys. Golfing, kayaking, biking, bowling, camping, movies….just to name a few.
Which event has been your favorite?
My favorite event with AWE has been the Camping Jamboree with the musicians (which I refer to as the 7 Sisters, like the constellation). It was my largest feat coordinating music, sound, musicians, camping, food, and vendors. I learned to use the multi-tasking abilities of my childhood and everything was a success! The women loved it and we have plans to do this again this year.
My other favorite event was the Biggest Lesbian Beach Party. It was the biggest gathering of 250 ladies throughout the day. I saw the community coming together and we had so much fun.
Is Alt Womyn Events a non-profit, or for-profit?
Alt Womyn is a non-profit organization, although not a 501(c)3. However, any monies raised is invested right back into the community.
What is the mission of Alt Womyn Events and where do you see it three-five years from now?
Our mission is Women connecting Women. Whether it is business or social, we want to create a safe haven of camaraderie – a support group that builds each other up and encourages talents and abilities. We want to create a united front across the globe promoting friendship, love and success without regard to race or status.
I eventually see Alt Womyn events expanding into other states. We are looking for women to step up, lead, and commit to bringing out the best in women everywhere. We each bring unique abilities to the table. Some of us have engineering or mechanical experience, culinary expertise, or construction “know how”. And some event attendees just need human connect, healing, and conversation with other women.
What is your favorite thing about running Alt Womyn Events?
The appreciation from women who say we’ve brought them light and love and helped them feel connected again.
Do you have a regular website or is this purely social media anaged?
To date, we are social media. We are young and expanding everyday. We are 3200+ members
Who makes up the team of admins and what is each person’s responsibility?
Our team of Admins include:
- Anna Leverenz/ owner, founder
- Annette Muff Conover/Adviser
- Linda Howard Chief Admin/Musician Event Planner
- Lynnetta Nierop/Treasurer
- Karie Baker/ Treasurer
- Julie Erikson/ Secretary
- Toni West/ Security
- Ria Mary Colon/ Columnist
- Cheryl Robitzsch/ Golf Admin
- Panda Eglinger/Softball Admin
- Kailani Nicole/ Event Planner
- Kat Kinder/Event Planner
- Christa LaRocca/Event Planner
- Lisa Zarbetski/ Fishing Admin
- Cesil Schrader/ Admin for Millennials
- Sharon King/ Chief Admin Chicago AWE
When you are not hosting events, what are you doing?
When I’m not hosting events, I’m usually working real estate. I like spending time with my girl, biking, shopping and romantic dinners or a sunset on the beach.
To learn more about Alt Womyn Events, or to check out their upcoming calendar of events, click here.