Unification News for June 1999

WFWP holds Convention ’99 in New York

Nora Spurgin

With the goal to provide new vision, empowerment and training for WFWP members and leaders in the United States, the Women’s Federation for World Peace launched its first annual Convention in NYC. The two-day convention held its first day, April 23, in the United Nations Building with our co-sponsoring organization, World Information Transfer. Christine Durbak, president of WIT, worked with WFWP leaders to create a full day at the U.N. of presentations on issues facing women. The second day focused on WFWP development and was held at the New Yorker Hotel.

Betsy Jones, chairwoman of the Convention Committee, and Traudl Byrne, chairwoman of the Woman of the Year Awards Committee, worked together with headquarters staff to create an exciting convention attended by 118 members and friends.

Day One at the U.N. began with a presentation from Hanifa Mezoui, U.N. Chief NGO Office, DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs). Among the presentations was Mrs. Rebecca Salonen’s very poignant account of the practice of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in Africa and her fact-finding visit to Uganda. Dr. Gilda Glasinovich, WFWP director of Latin American Projects, gave a powerful presentation on the worldwide trafficking of women and its impact on their physical and emotional health.

An Awards Luncheon was held in the U.N. Delegates Dining Room with the presentation of five Woman of the Year awards and three 1999 awards for significant contributions to the work of WFWP. Following are the five awardees for the WOY Awards:

1. Anti-Poverty Award of the Year: Ms. Nga Nguyen of Ohio. A former boat-person from Vietnam, Ms. Nguyen has dedicated her life and work to helping immigrants reestablish their lives and rise above poverty—materially, emotionally and spiritually.

2. Interracial Program of the Year: Ms. Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher, co-chair of the Race Relations Vision Council of the United Way.

3. Mother of the Year: Ms. Jill Shafer Hill. Opened her home to more than 20 children with severe handicaps and formally adopted three handicapped children.

4. Remarkable Woman of the Year: Dr. Gilda Glasinovich. Works tirelessly with numerous programs, committees and boards to further women’s wealth, equality between women and men, and health education.

5. Woman of Compassion: Ms. Dorothy Perry of Florida. Has touched the lives of hundreds of young people with hope-challenging environments, by opening her heart and home to them.

Following are three awardees for their significant contributions to WFWP:

1. National Interracial Sisterhood Project Award: Ms. Nina Alexander.

2. Partnerships for Peace Award: Ms. Eleanor Romo and Ms. Hope Olmos (mother and daughter).

3. The "Heart and Spirit of WFWP" Award: Ms. Nora Spurgin.

All awardees were presented with a beautiful Crystal World trophy upon which is standing the glass sculpture of a woman with outstretched arms releasing a dove of peace from her hands. The presentations were deeply moving and indicated the breadth and depth of WFWP’s interest and influence. Afterwards, two of the men participants of WIT joined WFWP!

Day Two at the New Yorker began with a plenary panel focusing on presentations about various WFWP projects: History of WFWP, Nora Spurgin; International Activities, Motoko Sugiyama; Interracial Sisterhood project, Sheri Rueter; Romanian project/Sunshine Farm, Kati Vigh-Brisbois; and the Developing of a Mentoring Program, Gwen Bair.

The afternoon focus was on networking and training for nonprofit management.

The Support Center for Non-profit Management, located in New York City, was hired to provide three facilitators to guide workshops on fundraising, organizational development, getting the word out about your organization, and how to use volunteers effectively. The practical skills learned in these seminars were geared towards enabling WFWP members and chairwomen, to fulfill their goals and build up their chapters

One of the many important points that was discussed in the session entitled, "How to Ask for Money In Person," was the fact that out of $143.5 billion charitable dollars that were given away in this country last year, $109.3 billion dollars, which is 76.2% of the total pie, was donated by individuals. Often we feel that reaching out to the big money sources such as businesses and corporations is where we’ll land that big grant, but often it is the support of individuals giving just $5.00 a piece that will get and keep our project afloat. The trainer emphasized the importance of writing personal solicitation letters to our families, friends, doctors and lawyers. Many of them would love to support our work with even a small donation.

Resource materials were also given out explaining how to most effectively utilize a volunteer base and how to organize and prioritize the work on our desks, when we have 50 tasks at hand and they’re all due tomorrow. There was also a group problem solving session where the different concerns of WFWP were identified and exercises were designed to find solutions to these challenges.

The overall goal of the conference was to balance the theoretical with the practical. On the first day we presented issues that are of great concern to women around the world. On the second day we focused on the practical skills that are so necessary to accomplish the goals we all have and desire to fulfill. As ususal, the conference was also a great time for members and friends of Women’s Federation to socialize, see those we haven’t seen and catch up on old times. From the political to the interpersonal, the goal was to create an experience of bonding within a shared vision. At the end of the conference, all the participants handed in their reflections. One sister wrote, "I had a most wonderful and enlightening time at Convention’ 99 but two days is just not enough to do all that needs to be done." She was right. We all would have liked the beautiful feeling of "sisterhood" to continue but in keeping a mind to the practical, there were husbands and children, and work and chores to go home to. We’ll just have to wait till next year!

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