She will be Table Leader this year

This Ladies Night Out isn’t just about a good time. It changes lives.

Her transformation, though, has nothing to do with weight loss, hair style or makeup.

Instead, the change — at least from the outside — is almost unnoticeable.

Before Newton attended Ladies Night Out last year, she was a “homebody,” someone who rarely left her Middletown residence because she was too consumed with babysitting her eight grandchildren and caring for her daughter who has autism. Newton, like many women, put others — children, grandchildren, everyone — before herself.

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“That was my life,” she said.

Then Newton, 49, read something on Facebook about Ladies Night Out, an annual event that provides women an opportunity to be pampered. For their $15 ticket, they receive a hairstyle and makeup, a donated evening gown, three-course meal, gift bag and commemorative photograph. No wonder the 200 tickets to the fourth-annual event sold out in 15 minutes.

“It was a way to get away from the kids and grandkids for a night,” Newton said when asked why she attended. “Have a night out. I never went to prom or anything like that. I figured it would be kinda cool.”

That night was life-changing for Newton.

“To watch her has been amazing,” said Jeri Lewis, organizer of the event that will be held Saturday at the Windamere Event Center on South Main Street. “She went from this woman who stood behind everything last year to this woman she is today. It has been an honor to watch her take the path God has for her.”

Lewis said that it was during Community Connect, an event that meant to keep the women connected, that she saw Newton’s growth.

“That light bulb just went off for her,” Lewis said.

Newton laughs now when she thinks about her life before Ladies Night Out.

“I didn’t even know I was looking for something until I got there,” Newton said.

Now Newton has immersed herself in the community. She volunteered last summer feeding kids at Sherman Park and got to know her neighbors.

“It’s an eye-opener,” she said of her community involvement. “I didn’t have friends, and now I have friends. I realized I wasn’t the only one in that spot. We really clicked. There is a point in time when it’s about you. You can’t be grandma and mom all the time.”

So this year, Newton is attending again, but her role has changed. She will be a table leader and responsible for the other seven women at her table. She will be the conversation starter, and she hopes to continue mentoring the women months after the event. She prays for those women — her women — daily.

“It’s life-changing for them,” she said. “They just have no clue yet. Everybody has their own walk in life. Hopefully they find theirs that night. My role is to pour some love in them.”

Newton will be accompanied by her partner of 18 years, Horace Stokes (who will help serve dinner), and her daughter, Alexis Stokes, a sophomore at Summit Academy who will serve as a dress rack attendant.

For Newton, Saturday can’t get here soon enough.

“These women have no clue what going to click for them,” said Newton, the mother of three biological daughters and a step-daughter. “It’s going to be an amazing night. Some women have never had pampering. Or had a chair pulled out. Never been treated like women should be treated. It’s not about the dress, it’s not about the makeup, it’s not even about being pampered. It’s just the love you will find.”

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