For more than 60 years, GFWC clubwoman and 2020 Jennie Award Winner Barbara Winingham has been making a difference in her community by volunteering with GFWC Texas and GFWC Amity Club of Bowie.
Born in Bowie, Texas, Barbara spent some of her early life traveling, including living briefly in Alaska, where her husband was stationed with the military, before returning to her home in Bowie.
After moving back, her sister-in-law encouraged her to join GFWC Amity Club of Bowie. As someone who has always believed in the importance of volunteering and giving back to others, Barbara was excited to join the club. In addition to her efforts with GFWC, she also spent many years helping the community through the Texas Parent Teacher Association.
Barbara said due to the inspiration of her mother and her upbringing, volunteering has always been a major part of her life.
“My mother volunteered through the church and through a couple organizations,” she said. “It’s just something as a Christian I was taught to do, is to be involved and see if you can make things a little better.”
While Barbara and the GFWC Amity Club of Bowie has achieved much throughout the years, she said she is most excited about participating in Wreaths Across America, a program which coordinates wreath laying ceremonies at veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states to spread the message about the importance of remembering these fallen heroes.
She said last year 700 wreaths were laid on graves at Elmwood Cemetery in Bowie, and the club’s goal is to have a wreath for every veteran in the cemetery next year, which will be about 800 wreaths.
“We started the Wreaths Across America project about four years ago and we have really grown since the first year we did it,” she said.
Although Barbara has given back to her community in many ways throughout the years, she said she never did it for the recognition or the appreciation, but was touched to be named a Jennie Award winner.
“It was just wonderful. You know that your peers appreciate you, not that you are doing anything for the appreciation, but yet I think deep down everybody likes to be thanked once in a while,” she said. “It was a great honor.”
For Barbara, being a part of her club and GFWC was like finding an extra family.
“I’ve really enjoyed being in Federation,” she said. “It’s the comradery of your own group that lasts a lifetime. Federation is a family.”
Whether someone is looking for this sense of family or wants to do what they can to help their friends and neighbors, Barbara said volunteerism should be an important part of everyone’s life.
“There are things the average citizen has to do to assist her community, wherever she lives, to be better and to be a better place for other people. I think you feel better after you volunteer, when you see some of the goals that you have met and see the joy in someone’s face,” she said.
When it comes to membership presentations, GFWC Missouri State Membership Chairman Lisa Cook isn’t afraid to don an apron to present an unforgettable “recipe for membership” skit.
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The Rochester Junior Women's Club
The Rochester Junior Women’s Club (Michigan) was established in 1956 with 16 members, and today has over 70 members that always come together to support one another. The club chooses three or four major charities to support and several smaller ones, donating approximately $30,000 each year. In total since its inception, the club has provided more than 1 million hours of community service, and raised more than $928,000 to support their community!