Friend-raisers support early education scholarships Sandy Riney opens her Grosse Pointe Farms house and gardens to host the Women’s Caring Program’s annual Twilight Gathering fundraiser from 5:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 18.The ticketed event features a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and wine served by WCP’s “men-in-shorts” (prominent local businessmen/contributors-to-the-cause). The event is open to the public and is the first of seven garden parties from Grosse Pointe to Grand Rapids to be held this summer creating opportunities for children from working, low-income familiesThe events raise funds and support scholarships for children from birth to 5 years old from Michigan’s working families who earn too much for governmental childcare assistance but can’t afford early care and education.Co-hostesses for the Grosse Pointe party are Christina Pitts, Lynne Aldrich, Anne Masterson, Celeste Arduino, Rachele Downs, Melissa Cragg, Mollie Fletcher, Colleen Robar, Aleksandra Miziolek, Linda Forte, Mary Kramer, Barbara Rossman and Patty McCarthy.“Exhaustive research conclusively proves that early education pays off exponentially for children, helping prepare them for future academic and life success,” said Downs, president of the Women’s Caring Program. “We know lower income children who start school behind their middle-class peers almost never catch up. Having a strong early care and preschool experience has a lifelong, positive impact on the children we serve as well as our communities.”The Twilight Gathering sprouted from a small front porch gathering of women in 1979 with the initial goal of expanding their circle of friends. Thereafter, friends invited more friends, and more than three decades later the event attracts hundreds of women statewide in outdoor settings.The non-profit WCP has been delivering services to children from low-income families for 15 years via ChildCare Commitment, Michigan’s only statewide program of its kind. In total, the nonprofit has awarded more than $2.2 million to families in 81 of the 83 Michigan counties. A scholarship covers up to 40 percent of the annual cost of child care or preschool. Some 98 low income children were assisted in 2012. For information about the scholarship visit womenscaringprogram.org.“Our strength is the support of an incredibly compelling network of women across the state who understand that the educational and social experiences children have starting at birth have a direct impact on how ready they are for kindergarten and, ultimately, their success as adults and our success as a society,” Downs said. “What investment could be better than that?”The Riney house is located at 125 Kenwood, Grosse Pointe Farms. Guests can register at WomensCaringProgram.org. Walk-ins can attend. Credit cards and checks are accepted at the door.