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Planned Parenthood’s 2020 Choice Affair to feature bestselling author

By Staff | Feb 13, 2020

Sarah Smarsh, the critically acclaimed author and journalist, will be the featured speaker at Planned Parenthood’s Southwest and Central Florida Choice Affair Luncheon next week.

A limited number of tickets are still available for the event to be held Friday, Feb. 21, at the Crowne Plaza Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Smarsh wrote the New York Times bestseller, “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth”. The book is a sentimental look into her upbringing on a Kansas wheat farm with her multigenerational, working-poor family, and is a finalist for the National Book Award. She examines the cyclical poverty that her family and many others in America face. Smarsh believes that she was able to escape poverty by not becoming a teenage mother, unlike her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

In her book, she speaks of her family’s belief in working hard to achieve the “American Dream” and their shame in expressing their actual socioeconomic status.

“People on welfare were presumed ‘lazy,’ and for us there was no more hurtful word,” Smarsh writes. “Within that framework, financially comfortable liberals may rest assured that their fortunes result from personal merit while generously insisting they be taxed to help the ‘needy.’ Impoverished people, then, must do one of two things: Concede personal failure and vote for the party more inclined to assist them, or vote for the other party, whose rhetoric conveys hope that the labor of their lives is what will compensate them.”

Smarsh often speaks about socioeconomic class, politics and rural issues. She has written about public policy for the Guardian, the New York Times, the Texas Observer, Pacific Standard, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and many other publications. A recent Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former professor of nonfiction writing.

“We are so excited to have someone with Sarah’s experience and insight joining us for our 2020 Lee County Choice Affair,” said Elaine Schaeffer, member of the event committee. “Economic inequality is all around us. Sarah’s journey speaks to the circumstances facing tens of thousands of girls growing up poor in ‘flyover states.’ It exposes a county that is failing its children, especially women and girls. Everyone will take something valuable away from Sarah’s presentation.”

PPSWCF opened its new facility in Fort Myers just last month at 6418 Commerce Drive. The 4,817 square foot facility is state-of-the-art and nearly double the size of the old facility, which was located in a strip mall.

Planned Parenthood provides a range of services that are “expert, affordable and confidential” including cancer screenings, well-person exams, birth control/IUDs, free condoms, pregnancy testing and ultrasounds, pregnancy options counseling, emergency contraception, miscarriage care, abortion care, HIV, UTI and STD testing and treatment, breast health and mammogram referrals, gender-affirming hormone therapy (transgender care), Gardasil (HPV vaccination), menopause care and more.

“Generous donors, just like the ones who will attend and support the Choice Affair, came together to make our new facility possible,” said Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of PPSWCF. “We are unwavering in our belief that all people deserve high-quality, respectful health care and access to information and reproductive services they need, and this event will help ensure our doors stay open and we can continue to provide these services.”

Sponsorships are available from $150 to $1,200 and individual tickets are $85 per person. For sponsorships, tickets or more information, visit LeeLunch.PPSWCF.org or by calling Rene Givens at (239) 687-2910 or email Rene.Givens@ppswcf.org.