Melanie Carriker understands GFWC tradition and legacy. Daughter of GFWC Communications and PR Chairman Wendy Carrkier, Melanie was inspired to form the GFWC Legacy Woman’s Club, which celebrates the dedication of grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins. The GFWC Legacy Club received its charter at the 2015 GFWC Annual Convention in Memphis.
What is your family background?
Throughout my childhood, it was instilled in my sister and me that nothing is guaranteed. If we had the talent and time, we volunteered. Each summer, I was told to “find something to do,” so I would volunteer. In elementary school, I was involved with Girl Scouts and completed various service projects for the badges my troop earned. In junior high, I remember spending the summer at the local Arts Council assisting with the pre-schoolers for the Arts Summer Camp, while my mother was also volunteering beside me. In high school, I volunteered each Sunday with the pre-school program at church. And in college, I volunteered at the local homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Volunteering has always been a part of my life.
How do you balance your GFWC work with your professional career?
When I’m not at work as a Marketing Assistant with Morbern, Inc., I am looking at new projects and ideas for my clubs to participate in, as well as fundraising projects. I carry many of the traits I learn through GFWC into my professional career. As you know, a clubwoman is always multi-tasking.
What’s one way being a GFWC clubwoman made a difference in your life?
I can thank GFWC for bringing me to the point I am today in my life. GFWC not only provides great leadership and training skills that I carry into my everyday life, but also the friendships that come with being a member of the Federation. I enjoy working with various non-profits and groups in my community, and making a difference in the lives of individuals for the better. From my work in the Federation, I have learned organizational skills, how meetings should be run according Roberts Rules of Order, and that together, we can accomplish so much more than by working alone.
What was the impetus behind the GFWC Legacy Woman’s Club?
After talking with Debby Bryant (daughter of GFWC International Past President Juanita Bryant) at a GFWC North Carolina State Convention, we discussed the need to create a club on the international level that celebrates not only the work of GFWC, but also the fact that we are carrying on the love of the Federation that our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters also share. A couple of months later, after brainstorming with other clubwomen who had been influenced by GFWC through their family members, an announcement was made at the 2014 GFWC Convention in Chandler, AZ, about the Legacy Club. A year later, we are receiving our charter!
I can thank GFWC for bringing me to the point I am today in my life. GFWC not only provides great leadership and training skills that I carry into my everyday life, but also the friendships that come with being a member of the Federation.
What does it mean to have the GFWC Legacy Woman’s Club chartered?
This is a very proud moment for all of us that have grown up in the Federation. We are extremely excited to receive the charter at the Convention celebrating GFWC’s 125th Anniversary. Many of us have been counting down the days to Convention and the opportunity to not only see our Federation friends, but the prospect of making new ones and sharing the bond of being a Legacy with the 60+ charter members of the GFWC Legacy Woman’s Club.
What is your vision for the future of the GFWC Legacy Woman’s Club?
I would like to see the members of the GFWC Legacy Woman’s Club continue Living the Volunteer Spirit, donating funds to GFWC for various projects, and supporting our historic home, GFWC Headquarters.
Coming from a GFWC legacy, did it always seem inevitable that you would carry on that tradition?
Yes! My mother, Wendy Carriker joined the Mount Airy Junior Woman’s Club in 1986, shortly after we moved to the area. I can remember attending the meetings with her when the babysitter (aka Dad when a babysitter was not available, or my father was out of town) was not home and playing with my Barbies under the table. While Mom was at her club meeting, I was having my Barbie club meeting. Even at six years old, I knew the friendships and bonds she was creating were something special and unique, and I could not wait to be a part of this great organization. When I started my higher education at Salem College, I organized and received the charter for the Salem College Junior Woman’s Club.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a GFWC clubwoman?
There are two events which have been the most rewarding while being a GFWC Clubwoman. The first was serving as a President’s Aide for the 2012-2014 GFWC-NC Administration. When your mother is the State President, you do a lot of work behind the scenes. Knowing the importance of the traditions in GFWC-NC, it was an honor to assist her throughout her two-year administration by promoting the 17.1 million meals donated across the state to Food Insecure children during the administration’s special project, Feed the Future. The second was receiving the charter while in Memphis at the 125th Anniversary Celebration Gala. I was truly overcome with Federation Friendship, love, and pride when I signed the charter with my mother, President Babs and her mother. When I look at the charter hanging in my home office, I can’t help but smile and see all of the good we as clubwomen can do in our community.
Sharon Oliphant is filled with positive energy and gratitude for all of the opportunities she has to give back because of GFWC. In 2018 she will begin her time as Florida State President, and Sharon is assume the role and work with her enthusiastic Florida clubwomen to make a difference.
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.
Junior Woman's Club of State College
When Robbin Zirkle moved back to the area after grad school, she addressed the challenge many people face as adults—making new friends— by joining the Junior Woman’s Club of State College (Pennsylvania). GFWC provided her a place to connect with like-minded women who shared her passion for community service.