Monni Must will be the keynote speaker at the Trade Secrets fundraiser, benefiting Gesher Human Services’ social programs aimed at supporting women in the workforce.

Monni Must will be the keynote speaker at the Trade Secrets fundraiser, benefiting Gesher Human Services’ social programs aimed at supporting women in the workforce.

Photo provided by Gesher Human Services

Troy fundraiser to assist women in need

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published November 8, 2023


TROY — An opportunity to help women in the community — or just to dress up and enjoy a night out — is coming to the Troy Marriott with the Trade Secrets fundraiser.

The 15th annual Trade Secrets event, a fundraiser for Gesher Human Services’ many workforce initiatives for women — including Women to Work, financial education, computer training, resume writing, homebuyers’ assistance and more — has the goal of providing women facing challenges with what they need to be successful and self-sufficient.

“The fundraiser started 15 years ago. Women to Work is one of the programs the event helps to fund. We are close to 35 years that we’ve been doing Women to Work. It originally was called ‘Displaced Homemakers,’ which is clearly not an appropriate thing to call it now,” said Gesher CEO Paul Blatt. “If you’re interested in supporting women in the workplace and helping women obtain new skills like computer classes, this is an amazing way to support those efforts. Bring your friends. It will be a wonderful evening.”

The programs are aimed at assisting women who need help entering or reentering the workforce and supporting themselves.

“One of the values of Women to Work is that it creates a network of folks that provide support for each other, as well as skills and services,” said Blatt. “This is for women who have been out of the workplace for some time, whether it’s to raise children, to care for an older adult in their life, or because of health. They come together and get career counseling. They build a resume, learn how to leverage the skills they have, reconnect and learn social media such as LinkedIn and so forth. Our staff continues to support them as they go through the process of obtaining a new career.”

The fundraiser will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Detroit Marriott Troy, 200 W. Big Beaver Road. Tickets cost $150 per attendee.

“It will offer a lot for people who want to help out their community,” remarked Blatt. “We’ll have a raffle for a trip to Italy. The price of your ticket gets you into the Troy Marriott, a dinner and access to the open bar. We’ll have strolling appetizers and a silent auction as well. It’s a great way to celebrate successful women in our community.”

The event’s keynote speaker is Monni Must. She will share her story of resilience following the death of her daughter Miya, who was lost to suicide in 2007. She had attended the Trade Secrets fundraiser before and is a firm believer in their goals of helping women.

“I got involved with Trade Secrets years ago,” said Must. “One of the speakers at that event talked about blossoming as they rose through the ranks, and there were some wonderful stories of people picking themselves up after tragedies.”

She began working with Gesher after they acquired a project that Must’s family created in Miya’s name.

“My daughter, Miya, who passed in 2007, had struggled with bipolar disorder, and she worked with Kadima,” she said. “If (Kadima hadn’t) helped Miya, we wouldn’t have known what to do with her. My mother-in-law purchased a house in Miya’s name, the Miya Jo Must House, which Gesher now runs. At the time, I needed to be able to grasp onto anything after she passed to help people who struggled. Anything that I could do in her name, I did. I worked with Haven, who worked with women who were abused and had nowhere to go. A very dear friend of mine and his family has a set of triplets who are Miya’s age. One of them struggled with mental illness and ended up staying at the Miya Jo Must House.”

Because of her search for comfort and meaning, Must began working with Holocaust survivors through a project titled “Living Witnesses,” a two-part book series of portraits and bios that honored over 400 living survivors in seven countries, many living in the Detroit area.

“I got involved with Holocaust survivors because I hoped they would be able to help me figure out how to move on after losing a child, since many of them had lost children and even their entire families,” she said. “I needed to see how it was possible to rebuild your life.”

Blatt said that he was happy to have Must be their guest speaker this year and thinks she is a great example to other women in the community.

“We’re excited this year that Monni Must will be our honoree,” he said. “This year, as well as previous years, we always ask successful women to share what has made them successful in business and in life. She had overcome a lot and come a long way.”

They hope to raise enough funds to help even more women than in previous years.

“We hope to raise $400,000. We’ve been successful the last few years,” said Blatt. “The need is there to offer these programs, and it’s our mission to ensure they are available. This amount would allow us to do that. … We supported more than 10,000 people through all of our different programming last year.”

Must believes that some encouraging words or a helping hand can mean a lot for people when they feel like they are facing their darkest moments.

“When your whole life feels like it’s crashing and there’s no direction and you’re terrified, don’t lose hope. There is a way out even if it feels hopeless,” she said. “With the state of our world right now, having an event devoted to helping others is very uplifting.”