President’s Message, September 2017

Welcome to members tenured and new as we begin another year at AAUW Stanwood-Camano Branch! I’m looking forward to serving as President especially with such a capable and supportive Board and members who are filling our various appointed positions. To invert T.S. Eliot and “The Hollow Men,” this year will begin not with a whimper but with a bang as we gear up for our Purses with Purpose event on October 7. This two-year project is in its final weeks. Members have been consistently involved by contributing purses and working on committees. With so many of us participating in the event itself, I’m confident of a successful outcome; our scholarship program and Tech Trek funding depend on it!

On August 19 Leslie Gitomer and I attended the AAUW Summer Leadership Meeting in Ellensburg. We divided the sessions: I attended the president and program workshops and Leslie attended membership and finance. It was good to interact with members from other branches and get some timely information to bring back to our Board. On that note, there is still one appointed position to be filled – AAUW Education Funds (EF) and AAUW Legal Advocacy Funds (LAF) representative. Jackie DeFazio, who previously held this position, reports that the job mostly involves keeping current on these issues through the national AAUW website and making occasional reports in our monthly newsletter or at general meetings. This is a great opportunity for newer members to get involved with our organization.

Our branch has had some very good news in the past several months due primarily to the efforts of Jackie DeFazio and Gay Campbell. First, our application for a change in tax status to 501(c)(3) was approved meaning donors to our scholarship funds and purchasers at our PWP auction will be able to take a charitable deduction on taxes in accordance with IRS guidelines. Also due to their grant application efforts, we have received $1800 from the Stillaguamish Tribe to fund two Tech Trek scholarships. Finally, with our new 501(c)(3) tax status, our branch was able to apply to be part of Stanwood-Camano Give, a national day of local giving, which will occur on November 28. This opportunity came up quickly. Jackie and Gay were able to pull collected information together and submit the application in time for us to receive approval to participate. Kudos, ladies! Cheryl Gruger and Cindy Smith will be coordinating work on the Stanwood-Camano Give project, so thanks to them as well.

I am not much of a non-fiction reader, however, I did look at a book recently I found interesting as it relates to AAUW, Terms of Engagement by Richard M. Axelrod. It talks about how we come together (labeled ”engagement” in this book) is everybody’s task every time we meet. My take away from this work is there are several ways to achieve engagement within a group. The first is to widen the circle of involvement – all of our voices must be heard. Secondly, we must connect people to each other. Lastly, we must create communities for action –all of us need to apply our talents and insights. While Axelrod’s book is a manual for businesses, these ideas seem totally applicable to our AAUW branch. As we look ahead to our September meeting, we will be “engaging” both locally with feedback from the strategic planning survey by India Nishi, and nationally with Jackie DeFazio detailing the workings of AAUW in Washington, D.C. My hope is that this year will be fulfilling, inspiring and most of all engaging on several levels to all members. Here’s to 2017-18!

~Mary Raymond

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