When Wanda Taylor retired, she was excited to be able to get back into the activities and hobbies she loved. After joining a local gardening club, she soon met another woman with the group who introduced her to GFWC Ossoli Circle, in Tennessee, and she knew GFWC would be the right fit for her.
“I just loved it and I decided to join, and that began my journey,” she said.
Wanda joined GFWC Ossoli Circle in 2014, and has been busy since then working on club projects and getting to know her fellow clubwomen. She took the helm as club president in 2020.
Wanda knew early on she wanted to volunteer and help make a difference for those in need, and was glad to have the chance now that she did not have a full-time schedule to work around.
“It gives me joy to give back to the community. It is something that I wasn’t able to do all those years, and now I have the opportunity,” Wanda said. “It gives me joy to see smiles on people’s faces when they receive services.”
While there are many projects the club has undertaken in the past that Wanda is proud of, she said one she was especially glad to be a part of was working with Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. This nonprofit organization aims to enhance the physical and mental quality of life for veterans with disabilities by providing custom trained mobility assistance service dogs.
Wanda chose Smoky Mountain Service Dogs to be the focus for her president’s project. As part of the project, clubwomen helped raise enough money for the club to purchase a dog, take care of any veterinary needs, and pay for the service dog training – about $5,400 in total. Members presented Smoky Mountain Service Dogs with a check during one of their meetings.
Wanda said the organization has sent several photos of the puppy during training and they are looking forward to attending the final ceremony signifying the end of the dog’s training before going to a handler.
As club president, Wanda was interested in getting more people involved with GFWC, particularly younger generations who may not be as active in their communities.
She said one way GFWC Ossoli Circle tries to bring in new members is by hosting a coffee event in the fall for people to mingle and ask questions.
“It’s an opportunity for members to invite other people that might be interested, prospective members,” Wanda said. Members can join throughout the year, as well, and Wanda hopes the club will be more visible at local events to help encourage others to start a Federation journey of their own.
“I hope that like me, (giving back) would give people joy. It provides a sense of well-being that makes you feel good and encourages others to participate. Your enthusiasm encourages others to join your cause,” she said.
With a background in corporate America and management, Tamara Miller has spent decades learning how to be a good leader and team player, and she was excited to bring these skills to the GFWC LaVerne – San Dimas Woman’s Club in California.
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