President’s December Message

I have been a member of CFUW for about 10 years. Right from the start, I knew that one of the unwritten expectations for members was participation in our one and only charitable fundraising project, the annual House Tour, which is the only source of funds for our scholarships for girls. The only job I figured I could do as a newbie was that of hostess, and so that’s all I did in those early years and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The other jobs seemed to be big ones that needed to be done by more experienced members.

Last year, House Tour Chair, Susan Middleton, and her committee worked tirelessly to create a new structure that redefined and documented many of the HT duties so that less experienced volunteers could work together to do the big jobs of finding the houses, organizing hostesses, advertising the House Tour, finding sponsors, writing and printing the tickets, and selling the tickets.

I again want to thank Susan and her committee for all their hard work in making the 2019 HT such a success, and for Susan’s continued commitment to the 2020 House Tour.

The big news since the general meeting is that we now have six homes for our tour. There are still a few key committee positions to fill (Please see page 4 of the December Newsletter for details). Susan has decided to step down as Chair of the House Tour, but thankfully, Maureen Shantz and Judy Yovanovich have volunteered to be Co-Chairs of the 2020 House Tour, and Susan Middleton has graciously agreed to be an advisor as needed. You three have made me and your CFUW sisters very happy.

The issues are that it seems to be getting harder and harder to find homeowners who are willing to put their houses on our Tour, and to find volunteers to do the rest of the organizing. It has been suggested that we should be thinking about other ways to raise the approximately $15,000 for our 13 high school Math and Science Awards, six College and University scholarships, and disbursements to many deserving community organizations. They are listed in our Program Brochure and on our website.

At a recent HT meeting it was decided to ask the membership at the November General Meeting to brainstorm on how to get this major fundraising project back on track. How to fundraise in the future was left for another time. The resulting animated conversations created much positive energy in the room, and many good ideas. I now have six(!) typewritten pages of comments to turn over to the new House Tour Steering Committee, but here are the topics and a “smattering” of the suggestions:

HOW TO RECRUIT MEMBERS TO VOLUNTEER FOR HOUSE TOUR POSITIONS:

  • Emphasize that it is a way to meet members and make you feel more involved in the club
  • Clearly describe what the jobs entail and an estimate of the time commitment, and personally ask members to help
  • Ask “Old Guard” to act as mentors for new or inexperienced members
  • Be sure that new members understand that there is an expectation that everyone help out in some way and contribute some time and talent, not just money.

HOW TO RECRUIT HOSTESSES:

  • Target groups such as bridge and gourmet so they can volunteer to be together
  • Ask family and friends of members
  • Contact high school and Brock University students who would like to have volunteer hours on their records

HOW TO PROMOTE THE HOUSE TOUR INTERNALLY:

  • Make “teaser” presentations about HT at each Meeting
  • Encourage roles in pairs to facilitate learning
  • Develop a skills and interest inventory database of current and new members

HOW TO PROMOTE THE HOUSE TOUR EXTERNALLY:

  • Put posters in furniture stores, library, doctor’s offices, ticket outlets
  • Use Tim Horton’s instore TV with crawl advertising
  • Post on Facebook, interest and events sections
  • Contact Newcomer’s Clubs, teacher’s organizations, ND Council of Women
  • Ask other organizations (Rotary, Legion, Lions, WRTC, etc.) to post and mention this event at their meetings
  • Include in community brochures
  • Put in newspaper articles, radio interviews
  • Put flyers in neighbours’ mailboxes

HOW TO FIND AND SECURE HOMES FOR THE TOUR:

  • Ask real estate agents, Architecture Association for award-winning Homes and contractors about new and renovated homes
  • Word of mouth
  • Newspaper article in September looking for homes to be on our Tour
  • Contact builders of Model Homes and Condos

Thanks to those who participated in the discussions.

If you have other ideas, please contact Maureen Shantz (maureen.shantz@gmail.com), Judy Yovanovich (judy.yovan@gmail.com) or Gail Neff (gail@neff.ca).

May Newsletter

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The UN Commission on the Status of Women is the largest annual gathering of the international women’s movement.This year, the 62nd year, the emphasis was on the challenges for rural women and girls. To read the report by Gail Neff, a CFUW St Catharines member, and one of CFUW’s delegates, CLICK HERE.

March Newsletter

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This month’s featured scholarship recipient is Vanessa Smith, a graduate of the NCDSB Lifetime Learning Centre. As with other recipients, Vanessa wants to give back to the community by tackling mental health issues. To learn more about Vanessa & to view the Newsletter in full, CLICK HERE . . .

President’s Message January – A Touch of Turbulence

On December 12, 2016, I received, as scheduled,  the CFUW’s Task Force Report “On CFUW’s Way Forward”. The report was mandated by the 2016 AGM to look at the status of GWI and their proposed dues increase. It contained 40 pages and 12 attachments and stated that it was not a conclusive report, but rather a report “to give information to our members so that we could reflect and discuss the very complex decisions on the “Way Forward” for CFUW.”

Another comprehensive report arrived from CFUW-Etobicoke reporting on their Ad Hoc Committee, which they struck in October 2016, also to gather information about GWI and the dues increase.

These reports were in preparation for a National Meeting that would take place on a Conference Call from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on January 30, 2017. During this call, I would be voting on CFUW-St. Catharines’ decision to stay in GWI with a fees increase, or opt out of GWI.

I was sent several notifications for this meeting and was informed as to how the vote would proceed.  At our last Executive Meeting, we decided that we would open the attendance to this Conference Call to our membership and listen together in a suitable location. The discussion about the vote was to take place at our January 10, 2017 General Meeting.

On Wednesday, December 21, 2016 I received a letter from CFUW’s President Karen Dunnett , in which she stated “ I am writing today because I do not see a way forward for me to use my skills and knowledge to assist CFUW through this challenging period.” The letter continues, “It is hard for me to face the fact that the lack of trust and anxiety spilling over from the previous biennium has not diminished appreciably and it is present even at the board level. I have endeavoured to work through these issues and continue to do my job as president; however, my actions in the best interest of all of CFUW have been construed by some, as other than trustworthy and honourable and the resulting tension is concerning. Despite my desire to work with CFUW women to manage this time of change, the heavy demands on my time to address the trust and anxiety problems leaves me without the time to try to bring us together to find solutions, and scarcer time to move CFUW forward in those areas of our emerging growth and influence.
“As a result and with much regret, I feel I must resign as your president.”

Barely four  hours later, I received a letter from GWI’s President Geeta Desai, in which she says “I am writing to share three decisions that the Board and I have made.

“After much deliberation, we have decided to do away with the increase. For your part in this relationship of equals, we are asking that you pay your dues (without increase) on time – the entire amount in January 2017 or at least half in January and the rest in March 2017.

“Given our cost-cutting and austerity measures, we have had to let go Amy Paunila, GWI Communications and Advocacy Officer and Helene Queyrane, GWI Programme Officer. Both women have contributed substantially to the work undertaken by the GWI office.

“The GWI Board, Stacy, our Executive Director and I have had many thoughtful discussions and we are now in the process of creating a Strategic Plan for the next three years that is membership – based with measurable outcomes.
“We hope to share it with you in January 2017.”

So there you have it. I hardly know what to say! Except 2016 has been an amazing year. In February our Syrian family arrived and is now thriving thanks to the CFUW volunteers who have helped them settle in our community. Now as they transition out of our sponsorship and prepare for the birth of their newest child, a boy, I must say that the experience of knowing them has been a life changer, as has being your President. Throughout the year I have had the privilege of attending meetings and getting to know CFUW members from across Ontario and Canada, a pretty impressive group of women! But most of all, getting to know CFUW St. Catharines has been a wonderful experience. Thank you for helping me negotiate this first half of my term and I know I can count on you for your help in 2017. We have much to discuss with the changes of the Executive Structure, the Bylaws, and where we are going to allocate the Gift of Reading monies. Much of this discussion will take place at our January meeting, when I will be celebrating the birth of my newest granddaughter in Vancouver. However, I know that your Vice-President Nancy Ferris-Hostick is well prepared to lead and answer your questions.  So as I am rocking baby Cate … let us all rock in 2017 with renewed enthusiasm for our membership in this extraordinary club. Happy Holidays!

Heather Hall, CFUW St. Catharines President 2016-17

April 2016 Newsletter

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CFUW St. Catharines Spring Dinner
Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Reception: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Dinner: 6:30 p.m. –

Tickets: $40
Location: Armenian Community Centre
156 Martindale Rd, St. Catharines

For Tickets contact: Jean Armitage or Anne Marie Stockwell

Deadline: Tuesday, May 3rd

 

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Walking the Camino de Santiago

Sandra Watson
Member, CFUW St Catharines

Highlights: Sandra will describe the daily life of a pilgrim walking the Camino de Santiago:  the ‘magic’ of leading a simple, unencumbered life; the amazing people encountered along the way; important lessons learned; and, certainly not least, the necessity for good boots and healthy feet!

 

Click here to see the full Newsletter.

February Newsletter

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Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Project: We have accepted a family of refugees. The SAC is very excited. At present there are only brief details. The father is a painter, mother a housewife and the children are two little girls aged three and less than one year. We will know more details later and at present we have no idea when they will arrive. Needless to say the group of volunteers have ramped up to full speed. We have almost all the furniture we need for the project and we would like to thank everyone for their generous donations

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