Junior Women's Club recognized at state convention
Date: 6/1/2010 May 31, 2010.
By Debbie Gardner
Assistant Managing Editor
WILBRAHAM -- At a time when many civic organizations seem to be struggling to survive, the Wilbraham Junior Women's Club is not only thriving but winning awards for its work.
This past April, the club took the top prize as "best large club" in the division one category at the annual convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Massachusetts in Westboro.
At that same event, the Wilbraham club also received awards for six of its recent projects including the club's 2009 Earth Day celebration, its support of the local Dress for Success program and its work with the Soldier On project at the women's veterans' facility in Leeds, Mass.
The club's Soldier On project took first prize in the state convention's Public Affairs category and will also be submitted in the competition at the Women's Clubs national convention.
In addition to this overall recognition, one of the club's members, Jen Nowak, was installed as corresponding secretary for the state's Junior Membership's Board of Directors.
Maryann Swift, publicity chair for the Wilbraham club, told Reminder Publications
the secret to the organization's success seems to lie in its flexibility and breadth of activities.
"There isn't pressure to be at every meeting," said Swift, who joined the club when she moved to town a year ago. "We have a great Webmaster who handles communication [with the membership]. She gets a newsletter out to all our members about the different programs."
If a member spots a program that she is interested in, Swift said pertinent information about the project's date, time, meeting place and chairperson is readily available in the newsletter. All a member need do is follow up to participate.
Those programs, she said, range from work with the reading programs at local schools to the Soldier On veterans'projects to sewing comfort pillows for breast cancer patients at Baystate Medical Center to a variety of projects that serve the homeless. This year she said the club is even adopting a row at the town's community garden and will grow vegetables to donate to a local food pantry.
"There are [programs] where someone can give an hour and make a difference, or 10 hours," said club President Marie Aquilino. "Every program makes a difference. If you're looking to change the world, we give you that chance."
Aquilino said she sends the membership a weekly e-mail outlining the projects happening in the next few days.
"Sometimes people can't commit that far ahead," she said. "[Last] Monday we cleaned the kitchen at St. Cecilia's Church where we host our bunny breakfast [fundraiser] in payment for using the space. Eight people showed up . . . we didn't expect that many."
But Swift said the online connectivity of the club doesn't mean no one attends monthly meetings which, according to the club's web site, take place at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the Scantic Valley YMCA.
"About three-quarters of the membership shows up for meetings," she said. "But if you have to miss a meeting in, say, November for a child's soccer game, or March for another event, no one comes down on you. We're very family first."
The club is open to all women and membership is not limited to Wilbraham residents. Aquilino said if a woman is looking for "an outlet to express talents that you can't [employ] in your everyday life and give back a little," the club is looking for you.
For more information about the Wilbraham Junior Women's club, visit www.wilbrahamjunior-womens.org