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Ellen's Corner

This is the time of year when the Associated Country Women of the World encourages its members to take part in “Women Walk the World” raising awareness of the organization and also raising much needed funds for the ongoing work it carries on to meet its objectives of “improving the quality of life for all people” Ever since this became an annual event I have loved thinking about the many women in so many different countries and environments walking together for a common goal.

In 1929 the Associated Country Women of the World was organized and how this international organization was going to be financed was of great concern. At one meeting in the early years the Finance Committee reported that “scratching for funds had become a feverish occupation”. Then in 1933 one of the members, Mrs. Drage, proposed that “If every member contributed a penny, in addition to the membership dues paid by individual members, as well as the membership dues paid by the member Societies (like the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada) ACWW would have a secure and comfortable income, without causing hardship to anyone”. The dues and the Pennies have been the main financial support for over ninety years. This is something of a miracle. ACWW has never received any financial support from any Government. The only exception to that is that from time to time a government has supported a Project.

How are those Pennies used? That money, in addition to the membership dues, go to the administrative costs of ACWW, maintaining the Central Office with its Staff, as well as for the travel costs for Officers in carrying out their responsibilities. I am sure that most of our Women’s Institute Branches across Canada have a “P. for F”. collection at their meetings. It is no longer pennies, but coins. Not too long ago a member asked me “Don’t the Pennies go to fund Projects?” When I told her what the pennies were used for she wasn’t going to give any more money to keep an office going. The pennies are considered to be an enabling fund. This is exactly what it is, those funds are what enables ACWW to carry out the Projects. All the requests for project funds come to the Office to be carefully considered and researched before a recommendation is made to the Projects Committee for final approval. If there wasn’t an Office to do this ACWW would not be involved with the important development projects that are funded. Then it is important to remember that we must also support the Projects Fund which provides financial support for a wide range of projects in health, clean water, food production and preservation, to name only a few.

I realize that it seems like every organization is requesting financial help. But If we believe that our Women’s Institutes can help to make a difference in the lives of women and their families in developing countries, then we should continue to support the efforts of ACWW with our Pennies for Friendship and Projects Fund donations. Several years ago when I was meeting with ACWW’s financial advisor he said to me “Your ACWW Officers are extremely good managers of your money. Your problem is that you don’t have enough to manage”. And I guess what was said more than ninety years ago still resounds – we are still scratching for funds.

I know that each one of you is having the same feelings of horror and heartbreak every day as we see, read and hear reports of the ongoing crime against the Ukrainian people. It brings us to tears when we try to put ourselves into the shoes of the millions of refugees, mostly women and children, who are looking for a haven of rest and safety. I am so impressed and humbled by the courage, strength, fortitude and determination of the Ukrainian people. . Our hopes and prayers are for peace, an end to destruction and demolition and innocent lives lost.

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