2015-2016 President's Report
Jennifer Deal and Brenda Fincher, Membership chairs, held a lovely orientation for Annette Cochran, Jennifer Kennedy, Brennan Rockett, and Susan Solomon, on September 3, 2015 prior to the first regular meeting of the year. We used Margaret Meade’s oft-quoted wisdom in that introductory gathering:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
What could be apropos for the Blue Stocking Club?
Our themes this year were grace and gratitude, which were the subject of our opening prayers, and peace and reconciliation, which were the bases for our closing inspirations.
With regret we accepted the change in status, from active to sustaining, for Ann Gillenwater and Butch Rainero, and noted the passing of sustainers Mary Ellen Buhls, Emily Hubbard, and Carolyn King. We are delighted to welcome new members Tracie Blevins, Patty Faulkner, Molly Keller and Kim Leonard.
Barbara Smith and the Community Service Committee did a heroic job of scheduling our volunteer hours at Bristol Faith in Action and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, and in organizing our almost monthly contributions to deserving agencies. Our members donated cereal and cash to the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry, books for the Literacy Challenge, diapers for the Bristol Family Resource Center, undergarments for Abuse Alternatives, and paper products for the Bristol Recovery Road for Women.
At the suggestion of the Executive Committee, the BSC made a donation of $500.00 to the Junior League of Bristol, which put their splash pad project over the top. Steele Creek Park received a gift of $500.00 as well, which was their first significant contribution to the planned expansion of the Science Center.
Before the year officially started, a small band of volunteers (who could manage to be in town in June), pulled off an amazing opening night gala for the new PUSH! Film Festival in downtown Bristol. It was an elegant and very successful event, and set the tone for warm hospitality and high expectations for the participating artists and filmmakers. Christina Blevins and Believe in Bristol made a rather last minute appeal for our help. They were pleased, and very fortunate, that we could create such a lovely evening for them in very little time and on a very modest budget. Kudos to those who participated in this project!
Our September meeting was hosted by Lila Ray at King University. Lots of sustainers were present to hear a report about the impact of our gift to Educational Programming at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. We are heartened by the skill and care that the museum staff bring to using these funds for the edification of students and adults alike.
There is a very good chance that there has never before, in the history of the club, been a unanimous choice for a beneficiary. That change this year, as every single vote cast was in favor of donating our Christmas stocking fund to Camp Caterpillar in memory of Niki Guest Thomas.
Helping Healing Hands with their cupcake fundraiser at Valentine’s has become a favorite activity for our members. This year was no exception. Becky Smith coordinated our writing of personal notes and delivering 900 cupcakes. Healing Hands expressed their gratitude by naming BSC as the recipient of their Dawn White Cupcake Volunteer Fundraiser Award. The cupcake will soon adorn the BSC study room at the Bristol Public Library, alongside the plaque we received from the American Red Cross, naming us Heroes for Community Impact in 2016. The director of the Red Cross had two messages for us at the conclusion of the awards luncheon. He stated that he is in awe of what we accomplish, and that he really wished he could have been at our table. We had more fun than anyone in the room, he observed, noting that we do serious work, but do not take ourselves too seriously.
Our organization is well-known for identifying compelling needs which are sometimes not widely recognized. our 95th birthday celebration was a grand event where we honored our sustainers and celebrated our history. Another goal for that day was to provide exposure and support for the new Alive and Well program at River’s Way. Alive and Well offers job training, life skills, and wellness education to students who learn differently. Tom Hanlon, River’s Way director, was truly overwhelmed and described the afternoon as “the best fundraiser I have ever attended; perfect venue, good food, and outstanding entertainment.” We are grateful to Carol Everhart, Janet Smith, and the Special Events committee for organizing this celebration and are pleased to say that we netted $16,300.00 to establish a scholarship fund for River’s Way. We owe special thanks to our Treasurer, Debbie Gwaltney, for all the extra tasks she performed with a smile.
And so, these are the facts, and they are fairly easily stated. The real challenge is to try to convey the essence of this group of women who are so responsible and so compassionate, not only about our work but about each other. The Executive Committee and all of our Chairs have been resourceful and supportive; the members have planned excellent meetings and interesting programs, and on several occasions have stepped up graciously to cover for someone whose life was throwing curveballs. If charity begins at home, the Blue Stocking Club is surely a home to claim. If “love one another” is an essential commandment, we are manifesting that gospel.
American actor Bradley Whitford seems to be a guy of substance. I like this quote from him:
“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen….yourself, right now, right down here on earth.” Indeed, he may have been referring to the grace-filled women of the BSC when he made those remarks.
Submitted with admiration and gratitude to each of you, and wish you peace,
Mary Lynn Satterwhite