Volunteers in Action: GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, Inc., GFWC Beverly Hills Junior Woman’s Club, and Village Improvement Association of Rehoboth Beach
November 8, 2021
To celebrate Advocates for Children Week from October 24-30, many GFWC clubs organized projects related to GFWC’s Juniors’ Special Program: Advocates for Children. Clubwomen used their creativity and ingenuity to come up with unique ways to support children of all ages and make a positive difference in their lives. The club stories featured this week are only a few examples of how clubs are working to become advocates for children, but the ways in which clubwomen can become a voice for young people in need are endless.
GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, Inc.
Members of the GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, Inc. (Florida) have been busy putting their creative minds together to develop a way to spread messages of joy and encouragement in recognition of Advocates for Children Week. The club’s Second Vice President and Communication Chairman Bonnie Josey explained the clubwomen gathered at one of their general meetings to paint and decorate “friendship rocks” that would be placed around several areas in the community where children of all ages would see them, including at a local community school for students in kindergarten to eighth grade, a high school, and a Ronald McDonald House Charities location.
Bonnie said the rocks were decorated with various messages of support, hope, and encouragement depending on the age group of students at the location of where they were placing the rocks, but that the overall goal of the project was to focus on suicide prevention among young people.
She explained the friendship rocks help to achieve this goal by offering kids and teenagers a message of support when they may need it most.
“I think we all need hope and encouragement at certain times in our lives. We hope with this activity that we reach these kids when they are maybe having a bad day,” Bonnie said.
She added they hope the younger children who see the stones will be inspired to continue to spread cheerful messages to those around them.
“We are trying to get younger children aware that little acts of kindness toward their neighbors is something they can do,” she said.
While this was a simple and fun project for clubwomen to work on, Bonnie said they all hope it truly makes a positive impact in the lives of children who need a bit of light and happiness.
GFWC Beverly Hills Junior Woman’s Club
Some children living in the Chicago, Illinois, area may have had a brighter Halloween this year thanks to the efforts of the GFWC Beverly Hills Junior Woman’s Club (Illinois) and other generous members of the community. Club President Carla Herr explained the small club worked for months to collect new and gently-used Halloween costumes to give to children in homeless and domestic violence shelters across Chicago. She said although they started working with only one shelter, they soon had more than 180 costumes and were able to spread the joy to so many more children than they originally planned, and were even able to give some costumes to an area school for some students in need. All of the costumes were laundered, steamed, and repaired as necessary before being donated.
Carla said the clubwomen, several being teachers themselves, know how important participating in activities such as dressing up for Halloween is to children who may be experiencing challenges in their lives.
“It’s really important to maintain a ‘normal’ childhood,” she said. “…Having a stable foundation is critical to having a well-adjusted adult, and a lot of kids we help kind of don’t have that.”
In addition to giving the kids a chance to enjoy the holiday, Carla said donating the costumes was a way to show the children some support.
“It lets them know there are people out there routing for them and championing for them,” Carla said.
Village Improvement Association of Rehoboth Beach
The Village Improvement Association of Rehoboth Beach (Delaware) has been continuing their support of Katybug, a pediatric care program of Delaware Hospice. Katybug specializes in helping kids from perinatal to young adult find relief from pain and symptoms of serious disease, while offering the families the practical resources and emotional support they need. The club has donated 160 gift bags for patients and their siblings, as well as 44 blankets and 60 hats knitted by the Caring Stitchers, a group within the woman’s club.
Communications and Public Relations Chairman Elayne Cannarozzi said the bags are age specific and include items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, small stuffed toys, puzzle books, sketch pads, journals, playing cards, and more depending on the age group.
“We give these to patients and the siblings of patients who might need a little distraction while mom or dad is talking to a nurse about the patient’s care,” Elayne said. “They’re going through a very challenging time in their lives.”
She said the clubwoman feel it is important to help support the Katybug program whenever they can.
“I think it’s been very rewarding for the clubwomen,” she said. “Children are our future. It’s important to nourish them.”
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Patricia Porto has been an active member of the GFWC Brunswick Woman's Club since volunteering at an event in 2015 and making the decision to join the club.
Success For Survivors Scholarship
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GFWC High Springs New Century Woman's Club
Members from the GFWC High Springs New Century Woman’s Club of District 5 in Florida visited Partnership for Strong Families to present them with 24 “Birthday Bags.”