The May 30 event features an advance screening of the film "Sex and the City" at AMC's Framingham Cinema 16 and a brunch at Neiman Marcus in the Natick Collection, where the retailer will raffle off a $500 pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes.

Fundraisers can often be as exciting as watching barnacles grow.


That is not likely to be the case at "A Movie, Fashion and Friends for Breakfast." The May 30 event features an advance screening of the film "Sex and the City" at AMC's Framingham Cinema 16 and a brunch at Neiman Marcus in the Natick Collection, where the retailer will raffle off a $500 pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes. Fashions from the movie will also be showcased during the brunch.


The event is geared to benefit the Women's Leadership Council of the United Way of Tri-County. The council itself works to assist women and girls in the MetroWest/495 area, specifically by focusing on economic self-sufficiency and helping women and girls affected by domestic violence.


The event serves a dual purpose of attracting new members to the council and raising money for the council's causes.


The Framingham-based United Way of Tri-County created the council in October in order "to develop and assist programs and services that support women and girls in reaching their full potential."


The council consists of women leaders in the MetroWest/495 corridor, which corresponds to the United Way's 34-community service area.


"These women come together to raise dollars and give their time and their skills to programs that support women and girls within our community," says Jen Maseda, director of community wellness for United Way of Tri-County. "This is a unique opportunity because they get to decide where the dollars go. That doesn't happen very much with women initiatives and fundraisings."


Maseda calls the event "a modern fundraiser."


"We wanted to use a modern approach to really change the face of philanthropy because we're just not baking cakes for bake sales anymore, although those things are very important," she says. "We're really trying to act strategically for the causes that really mean something to us, and this event is an example."


"A Movie, Fashion and Friends for Breakfast" begins at 7:45 a.m. at the Flutie Pass theater with refreshments provided by Panera Bread. The movie, based on the popular television show, screens at 8 a.m.


After the film, the brunch and raffle will take place at Neiman Marcus Natick in the former Natick Mall. The Natick Collection is located at 1245 Worcester Road (Rte. 9 west).


Tickets for the event cost $30 each with the price including refreshments at the theater, film, brunch - fruitinis and brunch bites will be served - and raffle ticket for the shoes.


"Those shoes are significant in that the TV show helped make Manolos a household name for the people who watch it," says Maseda. "It's a fun way to get women who have been watching the show and waiting for the movie. We hope it attracts new members and we hope it creates an awareness of some of the issues within our community."


Previous fundraisers have tallied almost $20,000.


The council approached Neiman Marcus, a national supporter of the United Way, and asked if it would participate in the event.


"We jumped at the opportunity," says Molly McHale, public relations manager of Neiman Marcus Natick. "We can work with and help this organization."


The event's fashion component also provided "a natural partnership," says McHale. "The shoes were such a natural tie-in with the movie. The characters love shoes and we have such a fabulous selection here."


Then there's the philanthropic factor.


The Women's Leadership Council is "funding programs that help women get better jobs, better pay and better benefits," says McHale. "It funds programs that teach women about good nutrition, physical activity and how to manage their daily stress, and it's created a birthday fund for women and girls of domestic violence who find themselves in a new home and a new community. The council's hope is to encourage and empower women and girls to overcome barriers to success and reach their full potential. Neiman Marcus supports this cause and looks for various ways to promote and participate in the WLC's events."


Lauren Stiller Rikleen, chairman of the Women's Leadership Council, points out that "the council is being done nationally as a way to really build up support for programs for women and children."


"The statistics around the poverty and underserved needs of women and children nationally are alarming, and this - creating a women's leadership council - is a way of helping to get people involved and drawing attention to the unmet needs of women and girls, in this case in the MetroWest/495 corridor."


The "Sex and the City" tie-in does add a fun element to the event, says Rikleen, who is a senior partner with the law firm of Bowditch & Dewey LLP, which has offices in Framingham, Worcester and Boston.


"Anyone who is involved with raising charitable dollars is always looking for something unique and interesting and fun to do," she says, "and this seemed like a fun way to bring people together, and Neiman Marcus's involvement really adds to the fun.


"What we're trying to create is a fun event, but we don't want people to lose sight of the underlying cause....We want people to come and give generously, but understand what they're ultimately giving to is a profoundly important cause in this area."


For tickets and more information about the event, call 508-872-3291, ext. 31, or go to the Web site, www.unitedwaytri-county.org, and click on Events.


The MetroWest Daily News