After motivational speaker Anne-Louise Sterry speaks to a group, she always knows if her talk has taken root by what she hears later from the people who hired her.
If people remind each other about what "Aunt Lena'' would say, she said she has touched their hearts and minds.
"Aunt Lena is like a story unto herself," said Sterry, who will speak on April 25 to at the "Women's Night Out'' fundraising event, sponsored by Altoona Regional Health System. The event will be held at The Casino at Lakemont Park.
Motivational speaker Anne-Louise Sterry poses as her character, “Aunt Lena.”
Sterry -?who is often joined onstage by her husband, Bob - starts off her talk as herself, but soon slips into the character of "Aunt Lena.'' The character is a composite of Sterry's maternal Italian great-aunts, all of whom her father said could be very "flamboyant and exuberant.'' Although Sterry's father was also from Italy, he did not care for the outspokenness of his wife's aunts, she said.
"He always said, 'Don't be like your great-aunts,''' said Sterry.
But it's the "audacious joy'' that Sterry found in her great aunts that she encourages others to seek in themselves, "to be courageous, no matter what is happening in our lives,'' she said.
If you go
What: Women's Night Out, sponsored by Altoona Regional Health System Healthy Living Club, Friends of Altoona Regional and Altoona Regional's Foundation for Life, featuring motivational speaker Anne-Louise Sterry
Where: The Casino at Lakemont Park,?Altoona
When: 5:45 p.m. April 25
Details: $40, which includes dinner and program; to make reservations or for more information, go to www.altoonaregional.org
That's what she centers on in her talks, and she tailors each message to her audience, whether it's a group of women in Altoona, a gathering of corporate executives in California or some other forum overseas.
"There is joy even in times of pain and sorrow,'' said Sterry, who is a former preschool teacher and psychological nurse. She came to public speaking slowly, as an offshoot of her teaching.
Sterry began by playing music and speaking to the children of friends.
"At that time, I wouldn't have thought I'd be speaking to large groups any more than the man in the moon, but it was a gradual process,'' she said.
Altoona Regional scheduled Sterry because hospital officials thought she would fit well with the purpose of the event - to help women get a break from the everyday stress of life for a few hours of entertainment, said hospital community education specialist Sherry Turchetta.
"All of us have trials and tribulations as women,'' she said. "I think she has a nice message that will reach area women.''
This year, proceeds from the event, which usually draws a sell-out crowd of about 500 women, will go toward women's health services at the hospital.
The dinner has been an annual occurrence for about 20 years, Turchetta said, adding that it has become a tradition.
At the dinner, women can buy tickets for $10 for 10 chances on the jewelry raffle, said hospital Foundation for Life development associate Gayle Conner. The raffle winners will be announced at the end of the dinner. All proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit women's health services.
Conner said there are six pieces of jewelry worth about $3,100, donated by Your Jewelry Box in Altoona: three rings, a multi-colored strand of pearls and a watch and necklace set. The big prize is a handcrafted signature blue sapphire ring with diamonds worth $1,600.