Members of the General Federation of Women's Clubs/Ohio Wintersville Woman's Club got a better understanding of what the GFWC is all about on the international, state and local level when the club held its kickoff meeting of the 2013-14 club year on Sept. 19 at St. Florian Hall.
Marjean Sizemore, who wears dual hats as the president of the GFWC/Ohio Southeast District and as first vice president of the Wintersville club, was the program speaker to the topic "Know Your Organization." She told her peers the GFWC is "an international women's organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service."
Its roots go back to 1868 when Jane Cunningham Croly, a New York journalist, attempted to attend a dinner at an all-male press club honoring novelist Charles Dickens. Being a female, she was denied admittance and formed a club for women in response. By 1890, more clubs had formed throughout the United States and that prompted Croly to invite them to attend a convention in New York City. Sizemore said to imagine the challenge of that, given the difficulty in traveling any distance in those days. No airplanes to board, mind you.
Marjean Sizemore, left, guest speaker, with Barb Thermes, club president
-- Janice Kiaski
There were 63 clubs that attended, taking action to form the GFWC, ultimately becoming what is now this international organization of community-based volunteers in thousands of clubs in all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.
The federation guides the member clubs and originally was founded as a means of self-education and development for women, but the focus has since shifted to community service. GFWC areas of activity include the arts, conservation, education, home life, international outreach and public issues as well as special projects. The GFWC signature project is domestic violence awareness.
Sizemore mentioned several through-the-years accomplishments of the GFWC, which is divided into regions. The Wintersville club is part of the Great Lakes Region which consists of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
In 1899, GFWC clubwomen established the national model for the juvenile court system, the same system they use today.
GFWC is credited with turning the tide for passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906;
During World War II, GFWC raised more than $150 million in the "Buy A Bomber" campaign and purchased a bomber for the war campaign;
GFWC was at the forefront of the conservation movement, resulting in the establishment of the Forest Reserve and the National Park Service and has directly contributed to the establishment of four national parks;
In response to the loss of equipment suffered during 9-11, GFWC members raised $180,000 for a fully-equipped ambulance for the New York City Fire Department. The ambulance displays the GFWC emblem.
GFWC, whose motto is "Unity in Diversity," has initiated a membership drive entitled "Who's Going to Fill Your Shoes?" Each club that recruits a member gets $5 for the effort, and the individual club member gets $3.
The GFWC/Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs was organized in 1894 and will celebrate its 119th birthday on Oct. 24. At the national convention in Florida, it was awarded 16 certificates on behalf of Ohio clubs and their members.
The Wintersville club is one of 14 clubs in the Southeast District, the largest in Ohio with more than 400 members, and was organized in 1934. It began with five members, absorbed members when the Civic Service Organization came on board and today has 73 members.
The Wintersville club was recognized at the international convention in June, Sizemore beamed, with its sponsorship of Indian Creek student Skyler Dye, who won at the state level for his submission in the youth short story, grade nine to 12 essay contest, and then on the international level.
President Barb Thermes presided at the business meeting where she and Sizemore served as hostesses along with Judy Anastasio, Natalie Doty, Joyce Palmer, Linda Cipriani and CarolynLee Barrett, who gave the meditation and grace.
Guests in attendance included Cynthia Pahnka, there with Donna Phillips.
The project for the month included collecting school supplies and returning baby bottles filled with change to benefit the AIM Women's Center. Barb Grimm asked members to bring the bottles to the October meeting if they forgot them.
A new project the club agreed to undertake after a presentation by Robbie Young involves saving canceled stamps to be sent to World Gospel Mission, American Indian Field at 14202 N. 73rd Ave., Peoria, AZ 85381.
The new project is one being done in partnership with the local International Order of Kings Daughters and Sons Laura E. McGowan Circle.
Young explained that WGM is a missional society whose fields of mission include the American Indian Field in Arizona and New Mexico. The AIF is 100 percent reliant on the free will donations and financial support of individuals, churches, and institutions and organizations. Mission programs include education, literacy programs and retreats.
Car insurance, gas and vehicle maintenance constitute the program's greatest expense, according to Young, who explained travel to the reservations involves some distance on partially dirt roads and often in mountainess areas.
Saving the used or canceled stamps is a way to help a sometimes forgotten people, Young said. The club members can save the canceled stamps and encourages others to do likewise, including church secretaries, businesses and organizations.
The 12th-annual Holiday Splendor, the club's annual fundraiser luncheon and style show with lots of vendors and boutique shopping, is on the calendar for Dec. 1 at St. Florian Hall.
There will be a style show featuring Phyllis' Fashions, which is bringing a rack of plus sized clothes this year as requested. The color scheme will be red and silver. Tickets are $25 in advance. Co-chairs are Pauletta Sprochi and Aimee Jaros.
The club will meet Oct. 17 at St. Florian Hall for its noon luncheon and business session with Bo Jacbos of Yorkville as the program presenter on American Indians.