The opening meeting of the GFWC/Ohio Wintersville Woman's Club was an enlightening one.
As the club began its new meeting year Sept. 20 at St. Florian Hall with Barb Thermes beginning her two-year term as president, 49 members and two guests were welcomed.
Then came a unique roll call directive.
Guest speaker Laurel Marks and Renada
-- Photo by Janice Kiaski
Instead of just saying "here" to acknowledge attendance, members were invited to respond by divulging something about themselves that their club peers likely don't know.
Hence the enlightening began.
While a couple of members jokingly took "the fifth," others stepped up to the did-you-know plate. Here's a sampling of some of the responses I hurriedly committed to paper while trying to listen.
Barbara Whiteman and Lil Ferguson both said they have been to every state in the U.S. Jeannie Barker has a daughter who's in roller derby, part of the Ohio Valley Roller Girls, which I hope to be doing a story on sometime soon. Joan Martinez and her husband took classes together on operating a fork lift. Linda Nolf is a potato chip junkie. Gloria Popp and her husband, Paul, will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary come November. Carole Montgomery has walking up and down all the steps of the Statue of Liberty to her I-did-this-once credit. Barbara Steele's family operated the Fort Steuben Bakery on North Seventh Street, a place she worked and remembered that two loaves of bread sold for 15 cents. Helen Krnich worked on the railroad during World War II. Joan Doan took a sleigh ride in Alaska when it was a balmy minus 4 degrees. Kathy Frey has a fascination with the Civil War. Suzy Crawford wears a size 2 shoe. Nancy Antill once drove a Mack truck. CarolynLee Barrett and her therapy dog Gabe have made 108 visits to nursing homes in the past three years.
An incomplete list here, but you get the picture. This is a group of women who are interesting, past and present.
Thermes read an excerpt from the GFWC website regarding "another year of community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service and fun."
Natalie Doty, first vice president, gave the meditation and grace, drawing from a reading about Crayola crayons from Guideposts magazine and a poem written by George Elliott. She also led the group in opening ceremonies.
Thermes led the group in a moment of silence in memory of Kathryn Pownall who passed away this summer. In Pownall's honor, a memorial contribution was sent to Hounds' Haven, her favorite charity, and her name will be inscribed in the state woman's club Blue Book as a memorial gesture.
Laurel Marks, development director of the Canine Companions for Independence program out of Delaware, Ohio, was the guest speaker, bringing with her Renada, a 2-year-old Golden Retriever/Lab Retriever mix on the heels of completing training to become a service dog.
The program has been in place since the mid-1970s and helps train and place service dogs with disabled people.
It has its own breeding program, according to Marks, who explained all the puppies are born in Santa Rosa, Calif., in a "puppy raiser's" home. At eight weeks, they are returned to Delaware for a socialization period, and then training time begins at 16 months. They learn how to be around wheelchairs and walkers, and they learn commands to help in opening and shutting drawers and doors, turning on lights and picking up items. That process can take from six to nine months.
There's a two-year wait for these dogs. A person must go through an application process and then the dog and person undergo training for two weeks, a period where the dog learns to suit that human's needs.
Putting a dollar value on the entire process from breeding to training adds up to $45,000 per dog, but the dogs, however, are provided free of charge to their human partner. Anyone from the Wounded Warrior program also receives a service dog free of charge.
Marks had Renada do a little demonstration of responding to commands.
She explained that the dogs are taught to respond on command, not to think as guide dogs for the blind are.
The organization is funded in part by GFWC/Ohio, grants and donations, so the club got a little perspective on what translates into a lot of help that it provides on a broader scale.
During the business meeting, Linda Cipriani, corresponding secretary, read several thank-you notes.
Thermes thanked club members for bringing pillows, blankets, bedding and other items for the Jefferson County Animal Shelter.
Marjean Sizemore explained that a pouch for pennies circulating from table to table would now be known as as project called "Pennies for Puppies," with the money sent to Canine Companions.
WAYS AND MEANS: Judy Weaver, chairman, explained that "Flower Power" will now be a new source of revenue for the club. This company sells spring flower bulbs, and each member received a sales catalog.
PUBLIC ISSUES: Linda Nolf, chairman, will take the baby bottles filled with change to the AIM Women's Center in Steubenville. She also will be giving a "Constitution" tidbit at each meeting. She read an excerpt from the Constitution and encouraged everyone to vote.
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Barb Grimm, chairman, asked members to cut the food and non-food coupons apart. They are being sent to military bases state side and abroad.
HOLIDAY SPLENDOR: The annual fundraiser will be held Dec. 2. Tickets are $25 and include lunch, the fashion show, drawings and shopping.
EDUCATION: Jackie Davis, chairman, announced the "Book Nook" would be every other month. She also said club members could collect school supplies in January and September as in previous years.
ARTS: Donna Phillips, chairman, reminded everyone that she has the contest forms for poetry, short story and photography entries.
CHATTERBOX: Sizemore, newsletter editor, explained she'll be e-mailing the newsletter to as many club members as possible for cost savings.
CONSERVATION: Chairman Pat Freeland announced that 13 pounds of pop tabs have been collected to date and that it takes 1,200 tabs to make a pound. These tabs are given to help fund Ronald McDonald houses.
The next luncheon and business meeting will be held at noon Oct. 18 with Mary Snyder from Historic Fort Steuben discussing "Steubenville, City of Murals."