President’s October Message

My thinking this month is about communication and especially how important the visual component is. For me, virtual video (PowerPoint) and Zoom meetings are second best to in-person interactions. But after six months of social distancing and isolation, they are giving me such joy! I actually felt a high at our September General Meeting on seeing all of your smiling faces! Of course, another factor is how impressed I am at how many of you have moved out of your comfort zones and learned how to access and participate in online meetings. I look forward to seeing even more of you joining in the fun in the coming months. Our October 13 meeting will be especially interesting as we contemplate how to proceed with our fundraising plans.

I am noticing that current restrictions mean I have more time for on-line meetings and thus I am spending much more time in front of my computer. And, although I am quite IT challenged, I am also discovering that I can attend virtual events such as webinars and guest speakers of other organizations. We may be house-bound, but we can still seek out opportunities to hear speakers from other groups who are learning to get the word out, such as the Niagara District Council of Women (of which CFUW St. Catharines is a member), and which is very advocacy oriented. Visit and/or contact any organization’s website and register for an invite.

If your Interest Group is temporarily on hold, you can go online and access the websites of other CFUW clubs, (just type in Welland or Hamilton CFUW for example). Another option is the Ontario Council which publishes a newsletter called OC News, and organizes the now online Speakers Series, the first of which is on October 3.

Click to read Click to read: Ontario Council News and Speaker Series

 Also, CFUW National sends out its Club Action Newsletter with links to events such as “My Journey as a Neuroscientist” by an award recipient on October 16th, and a Gun-Control Webinar on October 6th with speaker Dr. Wendy Cukier (a Ryerson professor) and organized by the Nepean CFUW club.

Club Action Newsletter September 10
Club Action Newsletter September 15
Club Action Newsletter September 16
Club Action Newsletter September 18

If you want to see our International Grandmother in action, go to the GWI website and watch some videos of speeches to several UN Councils. An interesting event which just took place September 12 was the GWI Membership Marketplace Webinar Launch. Marketplace webinar password: GWIMembershipMarketplace

One stream called Peer to Peer (P2P) provides an innovative method of communication between GWI members across the globe to foster friendship, share skill sets, and experiences. From language lessons to craft classes, it provides opportunities for sharing and learning world-wide. The second stream helps foster the twinning of NFAs (National Federations and Associations) to jointly take on projects such as Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women. The website also describes other on-going programs.

President’s March Message

CFUW National Resolutions

This year, six resolutions, proposed by clubs across Canada, have been sent to us for our comments by CFUW National. The titles are as follows:

#1: Canada Health Act and Common Application of Medically Necessary Services

#2: Payday Loans

#3: Achieving the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action

#4: Climate Emergency – Declarations and Action Plans

#5: Protecting Children from Exposure and Access to Pornography and Sexual Violence on the Internet

#6: Enforcement of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.

Our Advocacy Committee, led by Chair Liina Veer, will be meeting on February 26th to discuss these resolutions. Shortly thereafter, their possible suggestions of changes will be sent to all of us. Please keep an eye out for them and settle in for some important reading so you will be well informed before voting on the resolutions at our March 10 meeting. After that, our recommendations will be sent back to CFUW National. If they are approved at the next National AGM, (June 18 to 20 in Ottawa), members at both national and club levels will arrange to meet with elected officials, and make our expectations known. I look forward to taking part in these meetings this year. In addition to supporting our community, such meetings would certainly increase the number of people who know who we are and what we do.

House Tour Promotion

On another important subject, House Tour Co-Chairs Maureen Shantz and Judy Yovanovich and their committee have been working on standardizing our promotional message. The only icon to be used in advertising is the little house shown below:

They have suggested that we all add this logo as a signature to our emails to advertise the House Tour. Although I am one of the most IT challenged members of our club, I decided to give it a try and I succeeded! In your email program, go under settings (often shown as a picture of a gear) and search for signature. You can copy from the logo attachment sent with this newsletter. If you get stuck, try Googling “how to add a signature to email” (naming your program). Keep in mind that the browser that you are sending from, or that people are receiving your email in, can affect the appearance of the house icon. Alternatively, you can use a text-only version as your signature, shown below:

CFUW House Tour
Sunday, May 3, 2020

Everyone who receives an email from you will be reminded of our great event. Thank you for all you do!

President’s January Message

As the years fly by, I have become aware of some annoying changes in me… specifically, more than usual blanking on words (memory) and sometimes balance problems. I suspect it has to do with aging, but I try not to worry too much because I do exercise, (play tennis, go to exercise classes, and climb stairs at Brock) and exercise my brain by working crossword puzzles and tutoring in the course I have taught for years. Hopefully I am slowing down the progression.

Some of this was confirmed when I recently heard a Brock psychology researcher speak at a Retirees Luncheon. Dr. Karen Campbell pointed out that evidence does show walking, getting good sleep and eating a healthy diet all help keep your brain functioning reasonably well. But the ability to do crossword puzzles isn’t transferable to other parts of the brain. You just get better at doing crossword puzzles! The skill doesn’t make your memory better. Ah, well.

The Keynote Speaker for the CFUW Ontario Council Speaker’s Series in November, Dr. Andrea Wilkinson, confirmed the fact that brain games aren’t transferrable. She said you can only improve overall mental function by sustained mental effort. The brain actually grows new cells and changes in response to new experiences. She described the Four Pillars of Brain Plasticity as Physical, Nutritional, Deep Sleep, and Social. Well, the members of CFUW have that last one nailed!

Research shows that walking 30 minutes a day, doing strength training and exercising with resistance bands three times a week can reduce the loss of cells in the hippocampus, which is where short term memory is converted to long term memory. Eating fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, healthy fats and limiting processed foods strengthens the immune system and supports the growth of new cells. Everyday life and stress produce plaque accumulations, which can be “cleaned up” by glial cells and “flushed away” during a good night’s sleep. Socializing helps memory and increases attention span. The key, though, seems to be learning and doing new things, not resting on your laurels and just using and doing what you already know.

Recently, at our New Member’s Reception, I heard a new CFUW member, Jan Murdoch, who is a retired Phys Ed teacher, talk about being an instructor in an exercise program for seniors. She said that physical activities often activate areas of the brain that control cognitive functions (how we learn, think, perceive, and remember.) I had heard that having brain damaged adults crawl helped them to read again, so this made sense. We asked Jan for examples of exercises, and she mentioned jumping up a stair step. It sounded easy, but when I tried, I was afraid to do it! It was as if I had forgotten how to jump with both feet! When I finally made myself jump on the kitchen floor, it was surprisingly hard. Keeping my feet apart and swinging my arms helps and I do three or four jumps every day. It is becoming easier and soon I’ll try the steps. I recommend that you read Jan’s blog on her web site,, for other exercises and really good information.

I was interested in what area of the brain is activated by jumping so I started reading books about the brain. I haven’t found the answer to that question yet, but here’s what I have discovered: In the “Super Brain”, Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi point out that if you don’t do new things every day, the result is a baseline brain. For example, if you decide to have the same breakfast as yesterday, the brain doesn’t change. But if you decide to try something different, you tap into a reservoir of creativity, and the brain grows new cells and you start to make a super brain.

They suggest the norm is that as we age, we get lazy and apathetic about learning. We tend to simplify our mental activities, feel secure with what we know and don’t go out of our way to learn new things. While we refer to lapses in memory as “senior moments” they are actually due to a lack of paying attention and learning. We didn’t bother to think about what we were doing. We just did it automatically. If we don’t think about it, we lose the ability to think about it. It’s the classic “use it or lose it”.

In “The Brain That Changes Itself”, Norman Doidge observes that while we still consider ourselves as active, we rarely engage in tasks that require intense focus. Activities such as reading the newspaper, practicing a profession of many years, and speaking our own language are mostly a replay of mastered skills–not new learning. By the time we hit our 70s, we may not have systematically engaged the system in the brain that regulates plasticity (growth and change) for 50 years! Anything that requires highly focused concentration such as new physical activities, new dances, learning a new language, or making a career change will gradually sharpen everything else as well. But, you have to keep doing it.

Dr. Doidge also says that gross motor control is a function that declines with age, and leads to a loss of balance. This loss is caused by a decrease in the sensory feedback from our feet to our brain as a result of wearing shoes for decades! When we go barefoot, our brain receives many different kinds of input as we walk over uneven surfaces. Shoes are a relatively flat platform that spreads out stimuli, and the surfaces we walk on are increasingly artificial and flat. The result is the limiting of the effect of touch that guides our foot control. This leads to the use of canes and walkers and looking down at our feet to compensate for the decrease in balance, which hastens the decline of our brain systems.

So, I guess I need to start learning the language of Organic Chemistry, and going barefoot more!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday. See you in 2020!

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:


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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 (, Judy Yovanovich ( or Gail Neff (

President’s September Report

It’s time for the start of a new CFUW year of volunteerism, learning, and fun! Although summers are usually quiet for most of our members, the Program Committee, co-chaired by Heather Hall and Denise Bradden, once again worked their magic and assembled a stellar roster of speakers for our General Meetings for 2019-2020. Printed copies of the Program Brochure will be available at the September meeting.

This past summer was unusual also, with not one, but two 100th Anniversary AGMs taking place! Our grandmother organization, IFUW (now GWI), was founded in 1919 by three women, Dr. Virginia Guildersleeve, Barnard College, USA, Dr. Caroline Spurgeon, U of London, England and Rose Sedgewick, U of Birmingham, England, to advocate for world peace after World War I. The Canadian activist and first President, Margaret McWilliams, founded CFUW National in Winnipeg the same year.** This past year, delegates from CFUW and GWI have been in negotiations to solve financial issues, i.e. proposed dues increase.

The resulting compromise, a Memorandum of Understanding, (MOU), was approved in July by the approximately 400 attendees in Geneva, Switzerland (including 20 Canadian representatives). Click here for the Link to the MOU: MOU document

I had so hoped to represent you in August at the AGM in Winnipeg, but it was not to be, so your Executive gave the proxy for our votes to Mary Jane Waszynski, Past President, CFUW St. Catharines (2014), past Charitable Fund Chair (2016-2019) and now Ontario South Regional Director. Thank you Mary Jane!

The results of the voting in Winnipeg were that the Winnipeg Motion was defeated, the MOU was ratified, GWI dues were not increased but the CFUW national dues were increased by $6.00. This means our CFUW St. Catharines membership dues will now be $106 per year.

Please bring any prospective members (it is not necessary for them to have a university degree) to our first General Meeting, September 10th at 7:30. Here, you and they will connect with old friends, meet new ones and sign up for Interest Groups, and Community Activities. If you don’t register online, be sure to bring your dues and register in person.

I look forward to seeing you!

** For more historical background on the CFUW in Canada, see the President’s Report in the October 2018 Newsletter (on our website).

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 March Message

Last year an Ad Hoc Committee worked to restructure our Executive Committee reducing the number of members who would be attending the five meetings from 26 to nine voting positions. The new format created a Chair of Standing Committees with sub committees under their leadership. While there are still 26 members taking leadership positions, only the Chairs are required to attend the meetings while the others are invited to attend any meeting  and are included in all mailings and sharing of reports. The new format is working:  the work has flowed well and the attendance has been good. The meeting room was not bursting and meetings, while lengthy, allowed for good discussion and conclusions. An evaluation of this new format will be conducted in March.

Here are some of the highlights of actions from the January Executive Committee meeting.

¨ Survey re Pre-Meeting dinner: The 2018-2019 program committee will arrange for one pre-meeting dinner where members can come early, enjoy fellowship and a dinner prepared by Father Anton

¨ Ad Hoc Committee on Technology: established and working on various projects

¨ Ad Hoc Committee on Fundraising: There was a suggestion to look at alternative methods of fundraising in addition to our wonderful signature event House Tours. Looking into and safeguarding our future, the Executive approved that we research what other clubs and organization do. If you are interested in joining this group please

contact me (

¨ The club will establish an Instagram account

¨ The Treasurer reported  that things are in good standing and all the bills/dues are up to date

¨ The proposed Charitable and Club Grant Budget was reviewed by the Club Executive and will be voted on by all members at the April meeting.

It was such a pleasure to hear laughter and see smiles at the conclusion of this busy meeting. I invite any member to attend and get to know how it all works…contact me please.

Nancy Ferris-Hostick, CFUW St. Catharines President, 2017-18

President’s November Message

I had the pleasure of attending the Business and Professional Women (BPW) Provincial Conference Banquet at the end of September. The two-day conference was hosted by the Niagara Falls Chapter which was celebrating its 100th anniversary of working to improve the economic, political, employment and social conditions for women. I was warmly welcomed and so surprised to be introduced feeling very proud of the room’s recognition of our CFUW Chapter. BPW is the founding organization of the CCEW: Canadian Coalition to Empower Women.

The Canadian Coalition to Empower Women was formed to advance equality between women and men, girls and boys in Canada; recognizing it is essential to build strong economies, establish more stable and just societies, and improve the quality of life for all women, men and their families in communities across Canada.

This coalition was one of the workshop topics at the CFUW AGM held here in St. Catharines 2016 which I did attend so I was somewhat familiar with how it fits with the UN’s Sustainable Goals and in particular the goals of gender equality.

I met with the Canadian Federation BPW vice president who enlightened me about this coalition and the fact that CFUW has signed the “Statement of Support” .

Our club can sign this important document lending our voice to the growing number of more than 94 leaders from businesses and governments as well as community service organizations that have stepped up to promote gender equality across Canada.

Back at home, I would like to thank our own Program Standing Committee for a wonderful meeting in October. The speaker was Margaret Wente and so many members came out to hear her interesting presentation that the room was full. Our new layout enables members and guests to enjoy the delicious refreshments all evening while enjoying the fellowship around the tables. The November speaker is equally interesting so please come and invite a friend to hear the dynamic indigenous lawyer, Jodie-Lynn Waddilove.

Nancy Ferris-Hostick, CFUW St. Catharines President, 2017-18

President’s September Message

It’s Fall!  Welcome back to routine, to school, and from holidays and cottage life. Welcome back to CFUW. Many of our committees stayed busy throughout the summer to make the coming year interesting and attractive to our new and returning members.

On September 5th our Executive meets for the first time using its new format put in place to help streamline the meetings by reducing the number who must attend from 26 to nine. Only Standing Committees chairs are required to attend the meetings. Standing Committee members report to the Executive through their chairs although they are welcome to attend if they wish. By way of a reminder, every Executive meeting is open to any CFUW member. If you would like to attend a meeting, please let me know.

As we look toward the upcoming year, we focus on the need to once again “Tell Our Story.” I have chatted with long term members who remember how involved we were in telling the community who we are and what we have accomplished. Through community involvement in information fairs, a table at the library or Brock University or through personal contact, we let the community know about CFUW.  This year, we invite you to “Tell Our Story” through visiting our website for information, liking us on our Facebook page and spreading the word at community events through displays and casual chats. The Communications Standing Committee is working on new ideas but need everyone’s help. “Tell Our Story” every chance you get. It’s a theme for this year.

The Program Standing Committee has put together a new brochure and a spectacular speaker’s series. Be sure to share the information with others and invite them to our meetings so they learn about our work first hand.

The House Tour Committee is on fire with this year’s list of houses and activities. Jean and Sharon will update us at the September meeting. Good news!

The Membership Standing Committee will organize us with mailings, member details, and wonderful Interest groups. Please check out the list of these groups as there are new ones plus all our favourites. Tables will be set up at the September meeting for you to visit & obtain information and meet former group members.

I would like to thank the Club for the opportunity to attend the AGM in Richmond BC last June. It gave me a chance to see this great organization from another perspective. We had many positive discussions but it will be another challenging year for us as many of the issues from the last few years still linger. I hope that you have visited our website plus the CFUW National website to stay in touch with these issues. You can click here to connect with CFUW National.

Thanks also to Heather Hall for her leadership last year. What I’m looking forward to the most this year is meeting members and hearing your stories because they are very much a part of the CFUW St.Catharines’ story.

Nancy Ferris-Hostick, CFUW St. Catharines President, 2017-18