‘Picking Cotton’ is a New York Times’ bestseller.

In 2015, Scotiabank’s Power of the Purse luncheon was born. The idea was to have an inspirational female guest speaker and fill the ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman with women looking to make a difference.

That first year, it was the amazing Erin Brockovich, media personality and activist, who took to the podium. She was followed in 2016 by Cheryl Strayed, author of the book “Wild,” which subsequently became a film starring Reese Witherspoon.

In 2017, author Jeannette Walls spoke to a capacity audience of 480 attendees about her life, captured in her memoir “The Glass Castle,” also released as a film that same year.

On March 16, from noon-3:30 p.m., women will once again gather to hear another international speaker tell her story. Jennifer Thompson, author of the New York Times best-selling true story “Picking Cotton” is the special guest of this year’s Power of the Purse, held at The Ritz-Carlton.

“The event continues to show support of International Women’s Day and Honoring Women’s Month and has become a staple event in personal and company calendars,” says organizer Jennifer O’Leary of Scotiabank and Trust (Cayman) Ltd.

‘Picking Cotton’

Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken – but Jennifer’s positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars.

After 11 years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face and forged an unlikely friendship that changed them.

With “Picking Cotton,” Jennifer and Ronald tell in their own words the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.

Jennifer’s story has inspired audiences around the world. She has appeared on many programs including “Oprah,” “60 Minutes,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and “The View.”

Cayman Islands Crisis Centre

Funds raised from the lunch are donated to Cayman Islands Crisis Centre. To date, over US$100,000 has been raised, with last year’s total of US$47,000 exceeding all targets. Proceeds are gathered from ticket sales and a silent auction of designer handbags and purses.

Tickets are $150 per person or $1,350 for a table of 10. Email [email protected] or contact the Cayman Crisis Centre to reserve your seats.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now