Even though it was morning, what Jessica Cumba was offering had to be hard to resist.

She was among the female business owners, leaders of nonprofits and community members who gathered for the first Women’s Expo organized by state Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Peters Township, and members of her staff.

Rita Abbio

Rita Abbio displays the catchy slogan for Cookie Wishes, a small business specializing in designer, high quality custom cookies for all events.

And Cumba, who also lives in Peters, was excited to tell everyone that her brand, Three Rivers Salsa, has introduced a new flavor: verde, a delicious combination of roasted tomatillo, onion, and poblano and jalapeño peppers.

Some 40 vendors set up displays for the event, held at Valley Brook Country Club in Peters, varying from tasty treats to clothes and jewelry to health-related products. Also attending were representatives of many of the services that are available for women regionally.

“Small businesses and nonprofits really had a rough year in 2020 with the pandemic, the shutdowns, with all of it. And we really wanted to do what we could to help them out,” Mihalek said. “Especially for women who are trying to juggle it all both at home and in the business world, we wanted to lift them up and give them a venue to promote their businesses.”

The Women’s Expo also gave them an opportunity to network, learn more about one another and, optimally, make some new friends and customers along the way.

Also during the event, collections were made on behalf of organization such as Dress for Success, which provides professional attire and other forms of support for women on the road to economic independence; Zachary’s Mission, helping families of medically fragile children by supplying basic necessities and financial assistance; and Shop With a Cop, a Pennsylvania State Police program organized in conjunction with Macy’s to give children opportunities for back-to-school purchases.

Natalie Mihalek and troopers

State Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Peters Township, who organzed the Women's Expo, greets Pennsylvania State Police troopers, from left, Robert Broadwater, Melinda Bondarenka and Kalee Wietrzykowski.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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