What have you learned since serving as MVR President?
Serving as MVR President has been a wonderful experience. I’ve been able to work with members from my own state of Missouri for my first Region Conference and from Iowa for my second Regional Conference. Having been able to get to know our International President, President-elect, and the Presidents from the other 7 Regions has been an enlightening and wonderful experience. I’ve learned so very much from each of them!
However, I think that my most interesting, hectic, and rewarding event is still to happen. The 2018 GFWC International Convention in St. Louis at Union Station. This is the 1st time that a Region will host an International Convention.
How did you get involved with GFWC?
In 1966 we were living in Manito, Illinois. A friend of mine in a neighboring town was talking to me about her GFWC Club– I was impressed. She sent information to me about starting a GFWC Club in Manito. I read the information that she sent and started talking to some of my friends about starting a GFWC Club.
Meanwhile, in 1971, my husband changed jobs and we moved to Farmington, Illinois (where there was a Junior and a Women’s GFWC Club). Since I’d not made very many friends yet, I was thrilled to be asked to join the GFWC Farmington Junior Women’s Club in the spring of 1972.
Six years later we moved to Farmington, Missouri. When the Welcome Wagon lady came to visit I asked her if there was a GFWC Club in town. She said there were three clubs and she belonged to one. I told her that I was a member and would love to transfer my membership. She told me that her club (GFWC Federated Women’s Club) always had a “Summer Social” with all of the members, husbands, and prospective members. I received an invitation and my husband and I attended. I was asked to join, and the rest is now history! I later joined the other two clubs. The original club that I joined has since disbanded (but it was a wonderful club). I still belong to the other two clubs, GFWC Monday Club and the GFWC Fortnightly Club.
I have since served as President of the GFWC Federated Club twice and the GFWC Monday Club once, but have been their Treasurer for 10 or so years. I’ve also served as GFWC of Missouri 9th District President, GFWC of Missouri, Inc. President and now Mississippi Valley Region (MVR) President 2016-2018.
I will remain a GFWC member for as long as I am able.
The 2018 Annual Convention is sponsored by the region instead of the state– could you talk a little about that?
In many ways this will be a bit less stressful because it is not one state that will be hosting, but seven states. One of the really nice things, I think, is that the responsibilities are divided between 7 states and all of the responsibilities don’t fall on the shoulders of ONE state. Our General Chairman, Karen Kaler, has Chaired an International Convention before when it was held in Minnesota, so she knows what to expect and the proper channels that need to be followed. Even though I am really not responsible for any of these things, I am still the Region President and as such am very nervous about this event. Guess I just have to relax and let those responsible for their duties just do what they are supposed to do. I really do think that a Region as hostess is a good thing. There are many of our smaller states that are too small to host an International Convention and this gives them the chance to be involved without putting the burden on just one state.
Which GFWC Project has been the most important to you?
There are so very many worthwhile Programs and Projects available to a GFWC Club that it is sometimes difficult to choose which one(s) you want to be involved with that year or years. The Signature Project: Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention has been dear to my heart. Both of our clubs here in Farmington are involved with our local Southeast Missouri Family Violence Council which has a shelter that many of us in the community helped to form and build. However, Operation Smile is very near and dear to my heart because it was the very first project with which I was involved.
What has been the most rewarding part about being a clubwoman?
The most rewarding part of being a GFWC member has been the friendships that I’ve made and how much it has widened my life experiences. Another reward that I’ve experienced is when I was asked to play the piano before and during one of the morning Convention sessions a few years ago. I will remain a GFWC member for as long as I am able.
Mary Lou Parks
For accomplished author and GFWC clubwoman Mary Lou Parks, writing her club history, HerStory, was a journey that formed lasting friendships and a new perspective on women’s history.
Success For Survivors Scholarship
Each year, GFWC awards scholarships to help intimate partner abuse survivors obtain a post-secondary education that offers a chance to reshape their future by securing employment and gaining personal independence.
GFWC Marlton Woman’s Club
The GFWC Marlton Woman’s Club (New Jersey) has 41 members who are always trying to put a smile on the faces of others. President Lisa Levin said, “My goal has always been to work together as a club, making our members shine, and making a significant difference in the lives of others.” She also encourages leadership and engagement by motivating members to be a chairperson or to be part of a committee.