President’s Message, Annual General Meeting, April 9, 2018
Last April the new board took over full of ideas and good will. There were a number of things we were hoping to accomplish and a few things that we hoped to change. I would like to thank all members of the Board, Jane for her diligence and great ideas, Kathy for her knowledge and contributions to our financial planning, Merle for keeping track of our meetings, Jo-Lynne for our great newsletter, website and communications, Rosemary for her unerring good taste and fabulous special events, Marianne for her investigative work with Charitable Activities, Corinne and Ruth for all of our wonderful speaker events, Barb for looking after CFUW details. Above all, thanks to Judith for her knowledge and advice.
Relations with the Faculty Club
We met with the chair of the FC board to discuss our need for space and more tangible arrangements. We were given some space on the third floor which is definitely inadequate. We also got back a contribution we had made for $5000 towards a stair lift which couldn’t be installed. In essence we used that money to create our ‘Wall of Fame’ on the way to the Foulds Room, with the framing, hanging and lighting required. We have lobbied for greater accessibility but any change of that magnitude is controlled by U of T, not by the Faculty Club. There are no answers as to what changes and when they might occur.
We also have a new office assistant who has all the technical skills necessary in today’s world. Marium has worked closely with Jo-Lynne to create a new heading for the newsletter, a constantly updated directory and to get us on Instagram and Facebook. She creates accurate lists for dinners and speakers and is a real asset.
Our fundraiser for Romero House was a huge success. In total now, with the two fundraisers, we have raised $28,000 for this wonderful organization. We have decided not to do it again this coming September, as it is a difficult time to get people involved over the summer. We also felt that always asking the same people to contribute to the silent auction could be becoming stale. We will undertake a new effort after Christmas to take place in the spring of 2019. We would love to have as many ideas and volunteers to help as possible. Do let us know how you can help.
The Christmas Festive Dinner was terrific with the Syrian Children’s Choir and was so special to see the joy we got from their singing and glorious little faces and the joy they got from their gifts and Pierre Noel. It is always a lovely event and we hope that you will continue to attend and enjoy it.
As you will remember, the Charitable Activities Committee recommended recipients for our donations which were voted on in November. The board administers the $10,000 discretionary fund by a vote within the board. We were supporting students from Iqaluit and gave $4700 to Innis College for a female student to be able to live in residence in September, 2018. The remaining $4500 for that purpose will come out of this year’s fund. It’s hard to believe that residence now costs over $9000. The principal of Innis felt that this award would be a huge contribution to the experience and success of a student who would otherwise be unable to live in residence and she would be able to form a community there that would endure for all of her university years.
The other money, quite considerable this year, was given to Indspire and Sistering. It is unlikely that we will have such contributions in subsequent years. We felt that we were adhering to the guidelines and principles of the CFUW in helping Indigenous girls with their education through Indspire and girls and women on the margins in Toronto through the sewing studio and sleeping area at Sistering. We should be very pleased with our donations. Jane and I were thrilled when Betty Tugman congratulated us on branching out with the charitable activities and giving to these areas of need.
The Heritage Fund awarded grants to the amount of $30,000 in 2017, which is the amount given to the fund by the UWC. Another $30,000 was awarded in November to be used in the Heritage Fund 2018 awards.
Spotlight on Us, Speaker Series and other Activities
We have enjoyed many wonderful speakers but the innovation that we are very proud of is our Spotlight on Us Series. We knew that so many of our members had done fabulous things, had fabulous careers and fabulous travels. Let’s learn from and appreciate each other’s accomplishments. We began with a great presentation on women in Saudi Arabia by Jo-Lynne, then a wonderful summer evening of Merle’s poetry, then Georgina’s journey from England to Vancouver to Africa to Toronto and sadly back to Vancouver, Marianne took us with her to Bhutan, the kingdom of happiness, Martha spoke to us about her workshops and experience with introverts, Talisha spoke of her work in social activism and with young people in the Jane-Finch area. We have only just begun to mine this talented group. I think that we get to know each other better and to value each member’s interests and accomplishments.
We also had a wonderful series of four workshops called Wellness Wednesdays, the brainchild of Marianne Anderson. We had wonderful presentations on weight, walking, waking, and so on, to discover astonishing news about baby carrots, the wonders of magnesium and the brilliant Danish book, Hygge, about happiness.
The TSO group has enjoyed lunch and the matinee concerts. Unfortunately this series is not offered next season. We hope to put something together with concerts from the Women’s Music Group and the Faculty of Music. We have also tried to publicize great professional and student concerts at the Faculty of Music and cultural offerings at Innis College. We are so fortunate to be right on the spot for so many artistic events.
We have also undertaken various collections: clothing and household items for Romero House, an ongoing project. Another huge success was our collection of paperback books for women’s prisons’ libraries. We thought we could just take them to the women’s prison near Milton. No such luck, poor Jane had to box them, weigh them, seal them, label them and after waiting four months, they were collected and taken to Ottawa no less. We continue to collect for Romero House. They especially need basic household items for when families get a new home and are starting from scratch. We would also like to put out a call for fabric, especially upholstery fabric, for Sistering and their sewing project.
Canadian Federation of University Women
The CFUW will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year. We will contribute to the Centennial Scholarship on behalf of the oldest club, have helped the historians with archival materials and have nominated Harolyn as our Notable Woman.
We are more than befuddled by the CFUW and GWI issues and the possibility of an increase in fees. I understand that the timing is difficult and many opinions are being offered. As required, we paid that portion of our fees to CFUW in early March for the current installment. There may be an $11 or $8 increase but nothing is certain as to if or when.
The Board is looking forward to a new year of learning, enjoying each other’s company and more charitable activities. We should also volunteer our time and knowledge with organizations like Romero House, which is desperate for people to give English conversation, reading to little ones, etc. Sistering could use some marketing advice for their sewing projects. All of our activities and groups need your participation. There is the old saying that the more you give, the more you get. It doesn’t mean money, it means time, cooperation, being active, doing! As it says on our website,’ Join us!!’
Envision. Engage. Empower.
Susan Freeman, President.