What an honor and privilege it has been to serve as President of Blue Stocking this past year. I have never met a more generous, hard working group of ladies. We hit the ground running and never once slowed down. Thank you to my wonderful executive committee, committee chairmen and each one of you who worked so hard to help make this year go so smoothly. You graciously opened your homes for our meetings and provided excellent speakers. You generously gave your time and resources to our community, as well as supporting our own members who were in need. You never cease to amaze me!
After our 95th birthday celebration last April, a group of our members met with Tom Hanlon to present him a check for the Alive and Well program. Mary Lynn announced at the May meeting that the club raised $15,700 for this wonderful program. But I am pleased to report that by the time we presented the check to Tom, the amount had grown to $16,300. He was thrilled with our gift that established a Scholarship Fund that would help provide money to hire a graduate from the Alive and Well program. They hired their first graduate this past year.
Regretfully we accepted a change of status from Janet Smith from active to sustaining. And sadly we said goodbye to Gwen Smith. Gwen was one of our biggest supporters and we will miss her smiling face so very much. Today we are happy to welcome our newest member, Ronan King.
Brenda Fincher and Mary Lynn Satterwhite held a lovely luncheon and orientation for our new members (Tracey Blevins, Patty Faulkner, Molly Keller and Kim Leonard) prior to our September meeting. They were presented with a brief overview of the history of the club and an update of our current projects.
In October we worked with Believe in Bristol on the PUSH Film Festival. Jennifer Kennedy and Brennan Rockett graciously agreed to chair The Producer’s Party and they did a wonderful job. They organized and coordinated food, tents, and decorations for a fabulous party. Several of the film makers stated that it was the nicest party that they had attended at any of the other multiple festivals. High praise! Thank you, Ladies!
The annual Christmas luncheon is always one of the highlights of our year. This year was no different. It was so great to see so many of our sustainers and enjoy an afternoon of “catching up” with old friends, sharing a wonderful meal and listening to one of the best programs that I believe the club has ever had- the Lugo Family String Quartet. What a talented family. We were so blessed to have them share their gifts with us and begin the Christmas season in such a wonderful way.
Jan Massengill and the Community Service Committee did a fantastic job scheduling volunteers for Bristol Faith in Action, Healing Hands and The Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The committee kept the club well informed of special needs in the community as well. With their guidance and enthusiasm, the Blue Stocking Club was able to help the YWCA, Salvation Army, Emergency Food Pantry, Bristol Faith in Action, Healing Hands, Boys and Girls Club, Bristol Regional Speech and Hearing, and Family Promise. You, our members, gave over $5000 back to our community and that doesn’t count the food, backpacks, socks, underwear and the multitude of other material items that these agencies so desperately need. Never doubt what a difference your volunteer hours and donations make to these non-profit agencies and our community.
In January we gathered at Bristol Faith in Action and assembled 252 bags of cleaning supplies that were purchased with our Christmas Stocking donations. Each bag had 8 different cleaning products in it. We had enough money left over to purchase personal hygiene items, baby diapers and mops and brooms. Thank you all for your generosity at our Christmas Luncheon. And, thank you Jan, for doing such a great job organizing this massive assembly line! The bags were complete, stacked and ready for use in record time!! In February the club stepped up once again to help Healing Hands with their Cupcake Fundraiser. This has become one of the club’s favorite activities! We helped out by writing notes and delivering cupcakes… a job that was much easier this year because the weather cooperated with us!
The Community Service committee spent hours researching large projects for us to “sink our teeth” into. They proposed to the club at the March meeting that we have a small fundraiser in the fall to raise money to fund an exhibit at the new Nature Exhibit at Steele Creek Park. We are so excited about this event. It will provide money for a fabulous project that will benefit everyone in our community. We will be working on the details of this event during the summer...so watch your emails closely! This will be the Special Event for our club next year and we hope that we can once again count on everyone’s support.
We are so proud of our sustainers. The work that you continue to do in our community is truly amazing. This year Nancy Arnold was named one of five winners of the AAME Arts Achievement Awards and was honored at their Gala. Nancy, we are so proud of you and thankful for all that you have done for the Arts in our community. Congratulations. And, last week, I was privileged to attend the YWCA Tribute for Women. What an inspirational evening.There were three categories that were recognized this year: Nurture, Empower and Transform. The Blue Stocking Club nominated Ruth King in the Transform category and we were so proud to learn that she was one of the three women named as a winner. Ruth, we are so proud of you. No one deserves this award more. When I read the application that Peggy Horner, Barbara Smith and Mary Lynn Satterwhite worked so hard to complete, there was no doubt in my mind that Ruth would win this award. Very few people have done so much to transform our community than Ruth. Congratulations.
I would like to end with a portion of the Ted Talk given by Pope Francis last week. “…all it takes is for one person to stop and help, and change the lives of people around us…” “A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another ‘you’, and another ‘you’, and it turns into an ‘us’. And so, does hope begin when we have an ‘us’? No, hope began with one ‘you’.” Hope, ladies, has begun with each of ‘you’. But it is the ‘us’ of the Blue Stocking Club that has allowed this organization to make such a large impact on our community. May we keep on providing hope for the next 96 years.
Submitted with love and gratitude for a wonderful year,