The Year In Review
This past year began with the feeling the pandemic was ending and life would return to normal. But what was the “new normal” going to look like? And then came Omicron and for many of us, masks went right back on, if they were ever off. In spite of the pandemic, our branch leadership team persisted in putting on programs, our interest groups met, either in person or online, and we socialized as best we could.
We began the year partnering with the Bethlehem Branch for our Voices in Blue program about women in the police force. October took us outside for a tour of the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. Evening at the Williams Center took place in November and December was a tea at the Bachmann Publick House that included a presentation of the history of the Easton Branch. February brought us to the Sigal Museum for Growing Up Black in Easton – One Woman’s Story and in March we learned about the Lenape Women from Bluebird. The Authors’ Luncheon took place in April, in person, and it was a joy to meet, again in person, for our Scholarship and Award Dessert in May.
This year all applications were submitted electronically. Area high schools were notified that three $5,000 scholarships would be awarded to high school students. Northampton Community College and other prospective community service organizations were made aware that a Memorial Scholarship of $5,000 would be awarded to a woman whose college education was interrupted and was returning to school. We received applications from 20 high school students (Phillipsburg, Nazareth, Bangor, Wilson and Easton) and six applications for the Memorial Scholarship. The selection committee of Nancy Berry, Chris Zweifel, Claire Degnan, Nancy Kinzli and Karol D’Huyvetters met in April, reviewed all applications and made final selections. It was a challenging process based on the number of candidates. We were happy to make our selections and announce the awards at our annual dessert meeting held in May.
MEMBERSHIP END OF YEAR REPORT
We have had six new members join our branch this year. Two members are dual, Bethlehem/Easton. Three members joined through Shape the Future at our Authors’ Luncheon. These new members come from many different areas of the Lehigh Valley.
Our large branch tri-fold was displayed at the Girls’ Recognition Night, the Lenni Lenape program, and brought to the AAUW PA Convention. At every public program we try to publicize AAUW Easton and encourage membership. AAUW Easton brochures and posters were left at many locations in Easton, Forks, Palmer, and Nazareth. The AAUW PA Elevator Pitch contest has provided us with the winning pitch for our recruitment use. The Leadership Team often seeks community partners when developing programs. This keeps AAUW Easton in the public eye, creates relationships, offers a variety of programming, and helps recruit members. All speakers should be asked to join the branch.
I met with several new members and our membership committee is continuing to meet with our new members to orient them to AAUW and the Easton branch.
The membership committee has had a few meetings this year to discuss strategies for visibility and recruitment.
The branch has lost some members due to relocation and passing away.
The Leadership Team is asking established members to become mentors for our new members. We feel this is a welcoming way to make new members comfortable and learn about the branch.
Both the branch finance officer and myself are the members of the Leadership Team who most often use the new AAUW Community Hub. It has been a challenge since it seems to have been brought out for use before it was actually ready. Members are encouraged to renew online by creating an account, but this doesn’t work for all members. Those members can still send a check for renewal to the finance officer (Fran). Fran and I have been attempting to communicate with National and have also attended Office Hours available via Zoom on Thursday afternoons for members who have questions regarding the Community Hub.
The vote to rescind the two-year college Associate’s Degree did not pass last spring.
In my opinion, this continues to be a deterrent to recruiting members. There are many people who we meet every day who support the AAUW mission and don’t meet the requirement. It is also awkward to ask someone whether or not they meet the requirement. An organization whose mission is equity and equality should not have a membership requirement.
To maintain the vibrancy of the branch all members should be advocates for the AAUW mission and invite people to join us.
PUBLIC POLICY YEAR END REPORT
There were some successes during the 2021-2022 year.
In addition to the already scheduled branch programs, we held a forum on Ranked Choice Voting with members from the March on Harrisburg informing our members and leading the discussion. The MOH members explained in detail what Ranked Choice Voting is and how it works.
Additionally, we were able to host a candidate forum for those candidates running for District Magistrate in District 03-2-09.
Two Minute Activist Sign Up forms were available at many of the branch programs.
The monthly newsletter contained articles on voter registration, information from the AAUW-PA Public Policy co-chairs, pay equity, updates on mail in voting, legislative bills in Harrisburg and more.
Our branch website now has a Public Policy tab which includes the Public Policy Priorities of AAUW-PA.
Due to the continuing pandemic, it was not possible to schedule in person Get Out the Vote sign up sessions.
An Advocacy Interest Group will be formed in the coming year if there is enough interest.
Public Policy Chair
AUTHORS’ LUNCHEON YEAR-END REPORT
Our branch held its annual Authors’ Luncheon fundraiser on April 9, 2022 at The Pub at Seipsville.
Three local authors, Joyce Hinnefeld, Kate Brandes and Jennifer Gilmore spoke about their experiences as authors. “Without art, there is no pleasure in life” stated Jennifer Gilmore. There were plenty of opportunities for book signing and book buying.
Branch members and guests donated $1,640 to the scholarship fund.
28 branch members participated in the fund-raiser by making a donation, donating items for the silent auction or registering for the luncheon.
Fifty one members and guests registered for the luncheon.
Thirty one guests participated in the luncheon.
Ten members brought a guest or family member.
There were seventeen baskets in the silent auction.
The Silent Auction raised $1,228.
A big Thank You to all our members who participated in this event. Your participation either through donations and/ or attending the luncheon made it a success. The Authors’ Luncheon Committee as well as the Leadership Team contributed endless hours and lots of hard work to make the event a success. The monies raised at this event go to our scholarship fund which allows our branch to continue awarding scholarships to deserving young women and help them realize their goals and achieve a better foundation for their future.
Authors’ Luncheon Chair