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December 2017 Newsletter

On Monday, December 11th we are delighted to welcome Linda van Werthooven and learn about how the Tanzania Nursing Scholarship program is changing lives of young women and their communities.

Members and guests are invited to bring an unwrapped gift for a child staying in transitional housing during this holiday season. Janelle Estrada from Woman Shelter Companeras suggests reading books, activity books, board games, dolls—items that occupy the imagination and take up little space

We meet starting at 5:30 with a social and 6:00 dinner, followed by the program, at the Ludlow Country Club, Ludlow MA.  RSVP by December 6th is appreciated.  Either send a check ($18/pp) payable to Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley, with names of all attendees to ZQV, PO Box 1034, Belchertown, MA 01007-1034 or email info@zontaqv.org with names of all attendees and pay $18/pp at the door – cash, check or credit card.

December2017

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November 2017 Newsletter

Our November dinner meeting will celebrate our 2017 Founder’s Day award recipient: Gail Gramarossa of Belchertown.  Read all about Gail on page 2 of this newsletter.

The public is invited to join us in celebrating Gail Gramarossa on Monday, November 13th starting at 5:30 with a reception and dinner at the Ludlow Country Club, Ludlow MA. RSVP by November 6th is appreciated.  Either send a check ($30/pp) payable to Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley, with names of all attendees to ZQV, PO Box 1034, Belchertown, MA 01007-1034 or email info@zontaqv.org with names of all attendees and pay $30/pp at the door – cash, check or credit card.

November2017

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April Newsletter

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye!  Our annual Silent “no more!” Auction is but a mere 4 weeks away!! Just a reminder, please bring your auction items that need to be combined with other items, to our April meeting.  No item is too small!  A restaurant gift certificate could be added to a “Night on the Town” gift basket.  Use your imagination!  We will have fun making auction baskets at the April meeting.  We are also in need of baskets.

We have some wonderful items so far.  Two $100 dining gift certificates for Todd English’s Tuscany and Bob Flay’s Bar American at Mohegan Sun.  (One of these will be used for the auction, the other for the golf tournament);  a Summer Beach bag complete with Blanket, towel, flip/flops, frisbee, kid pops and water bottle (maybe someone would like to throw in a bottle of sunscreen and some sunglasses)?  A lovely grey/gold shawl; an Asian style tea set with tray; two beautiful hand knitted afghans, among other wonderful items.

Please look around your house for like-new items, check in with friends and family, ask the businesses you frequent for donations.  New this year: The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so donors may be able to take a tax deduction for cash or items donated to this event!

Of course, the Silent “no more!” Auction will only be a success if we have a great attendance.  So invite, Invite, Invite!

Trish Pupek, Auction Chairman

 

February Newsletter

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Greetings Sister Zontians,

We started out the second half of our Zontian year without skipping a beat.  January’s dinner meeting was not only productive but also a lot of fun, thanks to Dana’s Amelia Earhart challenge game. Karen Fontaine’s experience as a pilot may have given her team an edge!

Our friends from Soldier On worked with us to create 25 yarn dolls to donate to the Women and Children’s program at the Chicopee Women’s Correctional Center.  We will have the dolls on display at our February meeting and hand them off to Phyl Grondolski for delivery.

And that brings me to all the work Zontians and community members have done to collect items for our Fill A Bag with Hope project!  What an incredible outpouring of support we have seen—we have hundreds of bags! Many guests are expected  to be at the February 8 event for dinner and/or to help us with this hands-on project. Please join me in making them feel welcomed and appreciated.  We will set up the assembly line before eating and begin filling the pocketbooks about 6:30ish. We are working on plans for a smooth workflow.

At our March meeting we celebrate International Women’s Day and identify an organization which will benefit at this year’s Silent “no more” Auction.  Please give it some thought and submit proposals.  It is not too early to start collecting baskets, items, services and gift certificates for the May 2nd Auction.  Also help us spread the Save the Date message—we need good attendance at this important event.

Finally, I am looking for your input on awarding a Zontian of the Biennium at the June meeting. If you support this, what criteria would you recommend?  Email me your thoughts.

Thanks for all you do,
Lisa Sedelow

 

Mary Reardon Johnson chosen as Founder’s Day Recipient for 2015

Western MA ~ Mary Reardon Johnson has been chosen by the Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley  to receive its 2015 Founders Day award.  She will be honored with a reception and dinner on Monday, November 9, 2015  at Ludlow Country Club, 1 Tony Lema Drive, Ludlow, MA. 

MRJ Portrait 004Mary was born and raised in the Greater Springfield Area.  She holds her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Administration and has worked in Human Services for over 40 years.  Since 1983, Mary has served as the Executive Director of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts. She recently announced that she will retire in January. Under her leadership, the YWCA has gone from a negative fund balance to its current position of over $16M in assets. The YWCA has evolved as a statewide leader in the provision of responsive and responsible programs meeting the critical needs of women and girls.  They are the state’s largest provider of both Domestic Violence Services and Services to Pregnant and Parenting Teens.    Mary boasts the diverse YWCA staff of more than 125 employees and the quality of services the YWCA provides.  She maintains that Not for Profit is a tax status and not the way to run an organization with an operating budget exceeding $6M annually.  Currently operating at locations in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Westfield, the YWCA is the region’s largest and oldest women’s organization.

Mary has served on many statewide and several national committees and task forces.  Most recently, she served on the Baker/Polito Transition Team and was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Homelessness.  Mary has received numerous commendations and awards – among them the Pynchon Award for outstanding community service.

The public is invited to join us in honoring Mary Reardon Johnson on November 9th starting at 5:30. Please RSVP by October 31st. Either send a check ($25/pp) with names of all attendees to Pamela Albertson, 169 Aldrich St., Belchertown, MA 01007 or email her at pam@zontaqv.org with names of all attendees and pay $25/pp at the door – cash, check or credit card.

The Founders Day award is given annually to a woman in the greater Quaboag area who exemplifies the ideals of Zonta International, a global organization of professionals working together to advance the status of women and girls worldwide through service and advocacy.  Past recipients of the Founder’s Day award include Kathy Picard, Yoko Kato, The Honorable State Representative Anne Gobi, Bonny Rathbone, Nancy Fletcher, Gertrude (Trudy) Canterbury, Kathleen Conley Norbut, Janice Marciniec, Mary Ann Rigali, Tess Pelissier and Janice Kucesicz.

It is especially fitting that Mary Reardon Johnson is the honoree this year, as the club continues its participation in an initiative called “Zonta Says NO” – a campaign focused on ending violence against women and girls.  Zonta International considers this a societal issue.  Maria Jose Landeira Oestergaard, President of ZI, notes that we need to “address root causes and focus on prevention through education to change attitudes in men and women.”

The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley is part of Zonta International. Local projects of the club include raising awareness on issues of domestic violence, homeless women veterans, trafficking of women and children, and suicide prevention in Western MA.

December Newsletter

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lisa

Sister Zontians,

 December is upon us and for many it is the busiest time of the year. Celebrating the holidays with family and friends can be both stressful and rewarding. Some of us have new additions to the family, making this special time even more exciting; others have lost loved ones or are dealing with family illness, making this a time of reflection and changed traditions.  Regardless of your circumstances, I encourage you to count your many blessings – open your heart, mind and soul to goodness, gratitude and light.  Be proud of your ability to share your time, talent and treasures not only with friends and family, but also with women and children locally and globally who benefit from your generosity.

I recently received a request from Dana A. Brendecke-Carrier, bCRE, Development Manager for Zonta International & Zonta International Foundation asking for our ‘success formula’.  Cheryl Dorfman nominated us to part of a pilot program because “… as a former Foundation Ambassador and now ZIF Development Committee member, I have been continually impressed by  the fact that a small to medium size like yours is able to raise a substantial amount yearly through your fund raising efforts and is most generous in your contributions to the Foundation, exceeding the amounts often given by larger clubs.”  I am not sure how we will proceed with the request, but the ‘ask’ is certainly something to be proud of!

The Board has asked Pam and Tina to handle Nomination Committee honors this year, with the goal of presenting a slate of officers for 2016 – 2018 at our March meeting.  Pam has been elected to the District 1 Treasurer position and Tina will be moving out of the area next spring – so neither can be a candidate for office. I invite all the rest of you to consider serving as an officer, on the board, or be a committee chair. Our club is small at this time, so we all need to take on a leadership role as we rebuild our ranks.  Job descriptions for these positions are outlined on page five (5) of this newsletter.  Thanks for stepping up!

On a recent afternoon at Solider On, one of the veterans shared how truly grateful the women are for our friendship and generosity. She shared that “the time that we take out of our busy lives to spend with them” is what makes the biggest difference to them. This heartfelt thank you reminded me of how fortunate I am to be a part of our club and how special and unique we all are. It is truly an honor serving as your President.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season.

Peace,
Lisa Sedelow

 

November Newsletter

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lisa

The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley has been successful in many ways. This year has built upon the stunning success of the past several years and the commitment of members to participate in working the activities. I would like to highlight one of our clubs significant accomplishments:  The Soldier On Project.

 

Our workshops and activities with the Women Veterans are enriching to all and truly appreciated by these ladies. The variety of activities has been outstanding, ranging from our most recent horseback riding trip in September to the Greenhouse tour in October.  The group enjoyed the relaxing greenhouse atmosphere, conversation, refreshments and live plants to bring home to their newly built residence in Leeds, MA.  Please join us for our next Soldier On activity on Saturday November 21 in Leeds for a pie making workshop.  Please also keep the creative ideas coming so we can plan a fun and interesting year of activities with our Veteran friends. This is a wonderful way to reach a high point in service as well as fundraising.

 

We are a small but impressive club. My goal is to have us become even stronger and larger. This is a goal shared with Zonta International. Please help us spread the word about the difference we are making locally and globally; invite a friend or two to our November Founders Day meeting and December Holiday Celebration. Share that are meetings are interesting, the dinners delicious, and the fellowship could not be more welcoming.

 

Thank you for your commitment to Zonta!

 

Lisa Sedelow

 

October 2015

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lisa
This October we have a lot to look forward to. The Fall Conference will be beautiful in Burlington, VT with the fall foliage at its peak. I am excited to share this inspirational time will you all and I am very proud of our Club. Thank you all for your participation at Fall Conference.

Please invite guests to our October Meeting. Phyllis Grondalski will be sharing her experiences volunteering for the Mother-Child Program Visitation Program at the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center. Also joining us will be Regina Sanderson—Probation Officer and leader of the Womanhood Program at the Eastern Hampshire District Court. It will be a nice evening of fellowship and delicious food. Please confirm your guest count with me by Thursday October 8th..

I look forward to spending time with you and sharing ideas at our club meeting Monday October 12th at the Ludlow Country Club.

Yours in Zonta Friendship,
Lisa Sedelow President Ldsedelow@gmail.com

P.S. Please bring an item for our “Date Night” Basket we are assembling for the District Conference Silent Auction. We are also looking for 4—4.5” pots for the Soldier On event in October.

2015 Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

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Dana  Burton, Scholarship Chairman, is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Fitzgerald is the recipient again this year of the Jane M Klausman Women in Business $1,000 Scholarship. The award  is given annually to a woman pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree in business management.

Elizabeth just recently graduated ELMS College with her BA in Accounting and Information Systems along with Business Management & Marketing. This July she is going to start work on her MBA. Her husband has also returned to school and together they are raising their six girls. She also was just offered a job from Meyers Brothers Kalicka PC after completing an internship with them earlier this year. She obviously is doing great and is completely deserving of the award. We will be honoring her at the September meeting.

 

JMK2014DistrictAward

Presenting the 2014 Jane M. Klausman District 1 Scholarship to Elizabeth Fitzgerald is Karen Duffy, Area 2 Director. They are flanked by Zonta of Quaboag Valley Co-presidents, Janet DaSilva (left) and Krisin Goold.

 

 

A Message from Elizabeth from 2014:

First I want to thank all of the wonderful ladies of Zonta International from the Quaboag Valley for their wonderful hospitality at their last meeting in September. Everyone there showed a true interest in my accomplishments and immense supportelizabeth in my endeavors. Being honored by being awarded the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business scholarship from a highly distinguished group of women for my efforts in furthering my education truly is a testament of how hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed. I can only hope that as I mature in my education and begin my professional career that I will too become a lady of the business world and a partner within the local community worthy of such an honor. My hope for my six daughters is that they will live their lives and become strong and moral characters within their local communities and in the professions that they choose as the legacies of the women of Zonta International have set before them.

Over the last 3 years both my husband and I have been full-time students while trying to raise a family. As we both have entered into our senior year of college we are getting ready for the next phase of our lives together. Both of us have faced many struggles and sacrifices but could not have gotten this far without the love we have for each and our family, along with the support and dedication from my parents to see that we become college graduates. Both my husband and I will be the first child of our parents to graduate and for my husband he will be the first graduate in his family ever, and not with just one degree but two.

13 years ago I dropped out of college convinced that it wasn’t for me and it was an impossible task. I entered into the working world and found success in various customer service and sales jobs. I even received promotions to management positions. As a single individual this was perfectly fine for me and I always thought if I ever got married I would be perfectly content with being a “soccer mom”. Little did I know how ignorant that was and that my perceptions of how to be a good mother would soon come to an end.

When I married my husband I became an instant mother of his two daughters and we made plans to continue to grow our family. In 2011 my husband was faced with either taking a 50% pay cut or to be laid off from his factory job with our fourth child on her way. We were at a point where with the commitment of my parents he could go back to school and have something more promising and passionate than walking a production line for the rest of his life, so he went back to school.

I saw his dedication and commitment and I couldn’t be prouder of him. He showed me that I too could go back and be successful, finish what I started. In the fall of 2012 after giving birth to our fifth daughter I picked up the pieces from 13 years ago and sought to do my best and obtain my degree in Accounting. This would allow me to get my CPA license and build a business from home so our children can have the presence of a parent in the home and still have the benefit of two incomes. So many families are broken because children lack the presence that they need from their parents but in this world it is near impossible to make ends meet on one income.

Last summer my husband and I had the privilege of being able to graduate together, cap and gown side by side, with our associate degrees from HCC, with HDSC02040onors, and that fall we continued our educational journey together. He went to Westfield State while I begin the Elms/HCC accelerated program on Friday nights and Saturdays. We both have continued to set the bar high amongst our peers by achieving academic recognition and have placed on the Dean’s List every semester we have been in school. In my accelerated program at the Elms I am with the same group of individuals throughout the entire 20 month program, we start together we finish together. Even with them I am seen as a leader and a woman dedicated to my studies and family. One of the courses I am taking right now is Business Strategy. It is the most difficult course in both of my degree programs and is the most taxing time wise, mentally, and emotionally. I am required to work with a group of individuals to construct a business from the ground up and each team member is required to play a vital role within the organization. On top of the executive roles we each are responsible for, I was chosen by my group to be the President/ CEO. This nomination from them shows their valued respect and confidence in my leadership abilities to not only lead our group but to be a leader outside of our school’s walls. I am proud to say that our Professor has personally told our group that we are by far the best and most thorough group that she has ever taught in this course. We maintain the top grade possible of a 100% when this course makes or breaks most people. Constantly my peers are telling me, “I don’t know how you do it.” They all know that my husband and I are full time students with six daughters, all under the age of 11, and they too know our path is a difficult road to travel.

As both my husband and I are preparing to graduate this May we are preparing ourselves to enter back into the working world, but not as we once were when we left just a short time ago. This summer we actually came up with a business idea together. Since his passion lies with mentoring the youth and I will be able to handle the finance side of a small business, we would love to start our own group home for troubled teens. We want to get them before they get into the “system”. The success ratios of teens being rehabilitated once they enter into a correctional facility are extremely low. With some intervention I’m confident that we could make an enormous impact on so many young lives. I am completely amazed by the road that we have traveled and how far we have come with just so little left to go before we begin a journey on another path. At our wedding we danced to “God Bless the Broken Road”. It was a true testament of how our lives were brought together to become one. We have and are taking that broken road to build new life together and build a secure future for our daughters.

Since my husband and I were married we have been dedicated to our church and our local community. My husband has been involved in mentoring local troubled youth and for over two years we ran God’s Table as an outreach to our local community through our church. Once a month we held a free meal to anyone who wanted come in, eat, and have fellowship. We did the meal planning, food prep, advertising and had a team of servers. Also, there was the opportunity for an open mic where others in the community could come and share their talents. Not everyone gets to be a superstar in this world but everyone has talents that they truly want to share with others, all they need is a stage to stand upon. As little as it may seem, providing one little corner of the room as a stage, it meant the world to so many.

Before my husband and I married I began a once a month youth event through my church called JAAM, Jesus Arts And Music. I developed a team of adults to help facilitate this event and I did the advertising, fundraising and networked within the New England region to find local bands that needed a place to perform, other than their parents’ garage, and gave them a stage. This event provided opportunity for teens to have a safe haven to bring their friends, hear their peers play music, and not have to worry about being exposed to drugs, alcohol, or peer pressure. There was an open mic, pizza, and games as well as the concert aspect. I still remember one of the bands that we had from New York and their lead singer came and thanked me after the show. He said, “It’s is so nice to come and play at a venue where there aren’t drunk people everywhere and people doing all sorts of drugs. Just thank you so much and let us know when we can come back again.” This talented young man was still only seventeen, I couldn’t believe what he had already been exposed to in his young life. It’s so important to have these types of venues available for teens to help keep them safe and still be able to enjoy being young.

On top of JAAM and God’s Table I have been part of the worship team at our church playing guitar for over ten years. Normally there is a regular rotation of worship leaders and I started to play a little in the background on the Sundays when my dad was leading worship. As my skills progressed I was asked to play with other worship leaders and to sing as well. Soon I became a worship leader as well having my own team of musicians. My husband even learned to play the bass guitar so he could play with me. For a period of two years my husband and I volunteered our time to help provide worship music for our church every four out of six weeks. During this period our church was in between pastors (our pastor retired and filling the pastoral position at a small church in the hilltowns of Massachusetts takes time) and my parents were actually switching churches themselves. Our previous pastor was one of the worship leaders and so was my dad. This left half of the worship leaders gone, there was only myself and one other worship leader to fill the gap. In most churches this might not seem too bad but in our church the worship usually goes for an hour during church and then another thirty minutes after the sermon. There is a lot of prep-work and practicing in order to be prepared to lead worship on a Sunday morning.

There are so many struggles and obstacles we have had to overcome just this past year. Between school, finances, time constraints and family life we had reevaluate our priorities and cut back some. The hardest obstacle was finding out my mother has cancer and trying to be a support to her and my father as she continues to go through chemo therapy. Finding out that there will be no cure for her and her prognosis is less than a year. It is extremely painful to see my mother who I always admired as a courageous woman professionally, strong and powerful, seem so weak and unable to function on her own. She went from working as a receptionist for an insurance company and climbed her way up to where she was a senior project manager, a principal, and just one big money making machine for one of the most prestigious technology companies in the world, IBM. Without her, her work ethic, devotion, and passion I would not be the woman I am today. She told me the one thing she regretting was not finishing school and getting her degree. There were many doors that were closed to her because she didn’t have that degree. Getting my degrees in business and in accounting is like her fulfilling her own goal that she had for herself that she never completed. My only prayer now is that she makes it to see that day.

When I first heard about the Jane M. Klausman, women in business scholarship for Zonta International I wanted to find out what it meant to be a Zonta member and what the club was all about. I came to find that the number one goal was to advance the status of women worldwide. For almost 100 years Zonta International has brought business women together to build upon their strengths to deliver opportunity and advancement for women all over the world. This is the type of organization that would have been perfect for my mom and her many talents. An organization I can only hope to be a part of someday.

I look at the dedication and commitment that women like Jane Klausman had and the courage it took for her to be a pioneer and advocate for women and their professional lives during the 1940s and 50s. I’m sure she faced many obstacles and discouragement from those around her but she continued on as a business professional, writing books to inspire others. Her legacy is truly an inspiration for me not to only be a strong woman in the business world striving for success but to go beyond that. As Ms. Klausman sought to pave the way providing support and reinforcement for women, I too would like to be an inspiration for women of the next generation. Be a woman that my six daughters can look up to and know there is so much they too can do with their lives. They can know that no matter what mistakes you have made it is never too late to try again and push forward.

Being a woman, a mother of six and a striving student for entrepreneurship the odds stand tall against me. Living in the 21st century and trying to instill the values of our mothers and grandmothers of being a “lady” yet educated and powerful enough to stand on your own two feet seems like an impossible mountain to climb. However, investing the time and having the courage to go back and get not just one degree but two degrees, enabling myself to set an example to my daughters, I can show them by my actions and choices, that in our ever changing society, success for women is attainable and should be attained. There can be a balance between a home life as a mother and a professional career. Women don’t have to take a step back or a time out to have a family, they can continue to push forward. As one of 2011’s the most power women in the world, claimed by Forbes Magazine, Sheryl Sandberg stated in her book Lean In, “We can reignite the revolution by internalizing the revolution. The shift to a more equal world will happen person by person. We move closer to the larger goal of true equality with each woman who leans in.” My pursuit of a higher education to pursue my own business and a more stable homestead for my daughters is my “leaning in” to continue the revolution of women seeking a more equal world our mothers before us only dreamed of.

 

PS:  I thought you and the ladies of Zonta might like to know that I have been chosen by the Western Mass Women’s Magazine for their top scholarship award for the Women in Business Scholarship. On October 16, 2014 I will be presented with a check from the CEO of Health New England at the annual “Top 25 Women to Watch” event.

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