This one word, with enthusiastic punctuation, sums up the mantra, slogan and mission of the two Gulfport women who now own and run the ProSuzy women’s organization that has become a foundation of communication and camaraderie for so many.
What Suzanne Noe started in 2001 with a private email list of a few dozen women’s names is now developing into a far-reaching and multifaceted organization of over 10,000 people that supports social awareness and activities that “will open up a whole new world to you,” the website says.
Purchased by life partners and Gulfport residents Amy Oatley and Lynn DiVenuti on April 1, 2015, ProSuzy now also sponsors in-person activities and helps market themed gatherings planned by others.
“The website integrates the things we do and links to other things,” said Oatley, who was also the site’s original webmaster. With a journalism background, she makes sure the site stays current with news and human-interest stories that are meaningful to women.
Oatley and DiVenuti strategically focus on connecting women. Though “LGBT” appears on some of their marketing materials, the group maintains that it’s fundamentally not about labels. Rather, it’s about bringing together citizens of the world regardless of gender and sexual orientation, DiVenuti said.
Oatley and DiVenuti also sponsor free evening mingles for women at area eateries in Gulfport and St. Petersburg that occur at least twice a month.
“The emphasis is about having fun, making new friends and catching up with old ones,” said DiVenuti.
Yes, the website includes a personals section, but it also focuses on professional marketing with listings that feature an LGBT business directory along with a calendar of women musicians playing in area venues.
An opt-in email list is another way the duo gets the word out about mingles in addition to free movie nights at area venues like the Gulfport library, real estate listings, business listings and their picks of the week regarding fun, educational and entertaining things to do in the west central Florida.
Special events like the inaugural Gulfport Peace, Love & Women Music Festival that will be Saturday, October 15 from 1 to 10 p.m. at the Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S., are also included in their communications materials. More than a dozen solo or women-led musical acts and Crescendo, an area women’s choir, will be featured. One musician is Wendy Rich, a 2016 Blues Hall of Fame inductee. Local food vendors will be there and the event is open to all women, men and children. Proceeds will support the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund and CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse).
“I emailed ProSuzy and said, ‘You guys are awesome [because] you’re building community,” said Susan Gore. A resident of Austin, Texas then, she recently decided to move to Gulfport, in part, because of the community she discovered through ProSuzy. “It was an easy decision.” She even started a business with their help and her design expertise called Gulfport Painting Pro.
For people in business and entertainment, Oatley and DiVenuti also offer additional marketing, public relations and management services through Business Brainstormers and the Magnolia Talent Management Team & Creative Marketing group.
“I love the mingles,” Gore said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to hang out, spend time and get to know each other. Another element of their work I appreciate [are the movie nights.] I love the community building it offers.”