President’s September Message

Thank goodness for TV, radio, telephones, and the internet, especially ZOOM for me, during this pandemic. When my 77 year old sister in Chicago contracted COVID-19 in April, she was suddenly, in one day, so sick she could barely stand and breathe. She spent 10 days in hospital, isolated from other patients, sometimes needing oxygen, but fortunately not intubation, and was cared for by nursing staff completely covered from head to foot and looking like aliens. To keep her from worsening depression, my other sister and I decided to try free, daily, 40 minute ZOOM meetings. They kept her spirits up and connected her with the outside world. Thankfully she survived with seemingly minor ill effects. We have continued our daily “meetings” since April 27th and I am surprised to realize that they have become very important to my mental outlook and have greatly decreased my sense of isolation during our COVID spring and summer. If you are feeling isolated, try a free ZOOM meeting with someone you enjoy talking to. Also, you could call the person below you in the CFUW Club directory!

Since last May, I have just been putting one foot in front of the other as I develop and learn new daily routines. At first, it seemed to take forever to get things done and I comforted myself by remembering that learning new things is good for brain health. (See the October 2019, newsletter on our CFUW St. Catharines Website under Members Only).

Summer has usually been a quiet time for CFUW activities. The exception was the Program Committee who always met once or twice in May and June to plan speakers for the coming year. COVID changed all that. This year they required nine weekly meetings extending into August because, in addition to arranging speakers, they began thinking about the logistics of running virtual meetings, in case in-person meetings were not possible starting in September. After investigating several possible platforms, they decided ZOOM best met our needs. In the process, they also realized that running virtual meetings needed a much different organization than our previous in-person ones. Thus, the Virtual Platform Committee was formed to learn how to do the various behind the scene jobs necessary to keep a virtual meeting running smoothly. They practiced with our first Executive Meeting in June, which was surprisingly fun for me, and then ran our rescheduled April Annual General Meeting on July 14th in which 62 members signed in. Thank you to all of you who participated and voted. As a result, important club business was conducted, and your new executive is poised to navigate the challenges of our first COVID fall.

In addition to all our club activity, the National Annual General Meeting, was held June 19th-20th and was used as a model for our own planning. One thing I learned was that there may be unexpected delays caused by computer glitches, so that virtual meetings often take more time than planned. Our AGM only needed half hour more time whereas the National AGM needed another four and a half hours to get through the planned agenda! At the National AGM in June, the Guelph motion to remove the requirement of National membership in GWI was defeated, as we had hoped, but time ran out so votes on other important issues and the National Slate of Officers was postponed until a Special General Meeting in August. The most significant item for me at the SGM was a motion to increase the annual dues by $5.00 to allow National to pay its outstanding debt to GWI. (See historical background in our October 2018 and May 2020 Newsletters.) I am so disappointed that this increase, which would have supported the extensive international work of our founding grandmother organization, was defeated. This means our annual dues for the 2020-2021 year will stay at $106 per member. All six of the Resolutions and the two Emergency Resolutions presented at our March 10th General Meeting were passed.

We have heard from Father Anton at St. John’s Church/Activity Centre, where we have held our General Meetings in the past, that in-person meetings cannot be held there until January at the earliest. So, all of our monthly General Meetings will be virtual every second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 PM. The advantage is that there is no night driving required and no cancellations because of inclement weather. We are scheduled to use the National ZOOM platform which will more than accommodate 250 participants for our two hour meetings. See the notices in this newsletter about how to pay this year’s dues and join the interest groups that are still able to run safely.

Our club has purchased the $20/month ZOOM platform for unlimited use by the Executive and Interest Groups under 100 participants. Meeting times can last a couple of hours unlike the free Zoom which limits you to 40 minutes at a time. Organizers of groups that wish to use Zoom need to book times through the following email: cfuwstcvirtualmtg@gmail.com Susan Middleton is managing the bookings for our Zoom platform. The use is free to members, so do take advantage of this to stay connected. Before each General Meeting our Platform Committee has offered to run a seminar for ZOOM Newbies.

The CFUW motto is “The Power of Women Working Together” and it has never been more important than now. In this time of wearing masks and social distancing, we need to keep in contact with each other and find creative ways to continue supporting our own emotional and physical well-being as well as supporting the education and welfare of women and girls locally, nationally, and worldwide. I hope you have had a healthy and safe year so far and I look forward to “seeing” you at our September 8th meeting.