Message from Executive Team

AAUW-Bethlehem Executive Team

November 2021 – Message from the Executive Team

November is a good time of year for your Bethlehem Branch Executive Team. We have two successful programs under our belt, and the rest of 2021 and the first half of 2022 events are planned. As always, keep your eyes on the Bethlehem Bylines Brief and our website, http://bethlehem-pa,aauw,net for announcements of upcoming branch activities.

However, before we curl up in front of the fireplace with our paperback novels or mysteries, perhaps with a glass of New York or California wine, one more important task remains. We must find a new Secretary and new Vice President (or Co-Vice Presidents), Program, for July 1, 2022-June 30, 2024. Neither position is difficult. As Secretary, you need to be a good listener and take Minutes at Executive Team Meetings. Use of a computer is a must, as Minutes and announcements are sent to Team Members by email. Recently, Program has had 2 or 3 Co-Vice Presidents, which has aided inspiration and division of labor. Both AAUW National and AAUW PA have “Program-in-a-Box” topics, complete with details on how to run them if inspiration eludes you. Here again, computer skills are a must.

If you know someone in the branch who would be good at either position, ask her to contact Louise Wisser, the Chairmen of our Nominating Committee. Women liked to be asked to consider a new opportunity. Knowing that someone you know and trust has confidence in you, goes a long way to overcoming initial reticence to accept this greater commitment to advancing equality for women and girls.

The advice of a great twentieth-century woman, Margaret Mead, comes to mind: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

October 2021 – Message from the Executive Team

Watching all of the news shows commemorating 9/11 has helped me remember what happened after that day, but also remember how people around the country reacted. During the first two days after the attack, 1.5 million units of blood were donated nationwide. It seemed that everyone was trying to help in some way. Food for the crews working Ground Zero was prepared and distributed. Churches opened for prayers.

What has happened to our instinct to try to help others in a time of need? To be altruistic, to think of others, to be considerate of others instead of ourselves? Let that photo of the exhausted firefighter climbing UP the stairs of the World Trade Center inspire us.

We all know that wearing a mask is annoying. But that mask does not protect us. It protects the people around us. It is a truly altruistic act. We are not expecting anyone to donate blood (or a kidney). Please try to be concerned about others and not just your own physical comfort. Wear a mask for someone who is battling cancer. Wear a mask so those too young to be vaccinated can get back to school. Wear a mask for my sister who has rheumatoid arthritis and for my brother who has a disease that is paralyzing all of his muscles, including those to breathe. Not wearing a mask is like the childish saying, “You’re not the boss of me.” Wearing a mask is a truly altruistic act we can all do.

May 2021 – Message from the Executive Team

As we come to the end of our AAUW 2020-2021 fiscal year, we look back at a year of sadness and disruptions, but also a year of resilience and ingenuity. Who knew we would be ordering groceries online, making our own pizzas, or ordering complete meals for Take Away?  AAUW-Bethlehem has been as resilient as each of its members. We are familiar with the phrase “It takes a village….”  Here are just a few of our Bethlehem Branch villagers who helped make our 2020-2021 year be extraordinary.

In September, Shirley Daluisio ensured that each member received our annual Yearbook, so important this year to enable us to reach out to each other. Communications Chair, Linda Robertson, and Bylines Brief Editor, Beth Coroda, worked together to ensure that the Branch was kept up to date on our virtual activities. Book Fair Co-Chairs, Rita Berstrom and Amy Fields, and their Book Fair Committee, prepared for the possibility that our 2021 Book Fair would be held in April as planned, until, in February, it had to be postponed once again. They continue to deal with all things “Book Fair” in preparation for 2022. Fran Bentkowski and her Scholarship Committee made preparations for our senior high school girls’ scholarship interviews until these also were canceled for another year. However, the Committee ensured that scholarships to our non-traditional, adult college students will be awarded. Nominating Chair, Debbie Spinney, and her Nominating Committee found willing officers to replace our outgoing Executive Membership Team. Trisha Moller, College Liaison, was instrumental with the Moravian College Branch Program in February. Trisha has the additional function of being our Facebook Administrator. Our Website Master, Madison Scarfaro, kept our website, our “first impression” to potential members, colorful and readable. Our Coordinator for Public Policy, Joan Howe, wrote articles for the Bylines Brief about National and State legislative actions, distilling numerous emails and publications for our membership. Above all, I would like to acknowledge the fantastic work done by our Study Groups to maintain their meeting schedules through ZOOM, and with special acknowledgment to Bacchae, our wine group, who went the extra mile to ensure a normal wine-tasting experience.

Our Executive Team has strived to maintain an authentic AAUW-Bethlehem experience. Our Program Co-Vice Presidents, Olga Conneen, Mary Lou Vernon, and Phyllis Wargo planned on-topic Branch Programs. As pandemic protocol continued to prohibit in-person meetings, these were switched to virtual via ZOOM with the technical support of Linda Zimmerman.  Incidentally, we had more attendees at each of this year’s programs than in past years.

Membership Co-Vice Presidents, Ann Brown, Amy Fields, and Mary Dawson encouraged branch members to welcome new members and solicited guests to our Branch Programs to become members.  Ann wrote several pieces for the Bylines Brief to clarify member issues, such as National, State, and Branch voting issues and procedures.

Finance Officer, Linda Robbins, kept the Branch on budget, filed our taxes, updated our insurance, and managed our dues collection, among her other essential duties. She organized the Branch Awards Committee and was responsible for our Branch obtaining its first STAR in the National AAUW 5-Star Program. In the past few months, we have acquired 3 additional STARS and we hope to have our 5th and final STAR by June. See for details.

On behalf of the Executive Committee, I wish to thank each and every one of YOU for the big and little things you did this year to bring friendship to each other, smiles to virtual faces, and optimism to our village in this year of anxiety.

Cathy Kotanchik,

Executive Team Secretary