Preaching to the Choir

Our office received a call last week from a member of the Calhoun WI in New Brunswick. The caller wondered if we had any advice about attracting new members. Their group has five.  A mighty five, if you consider their successful door-to-door fundraising efforts for FWIC.

“Are you online?” Kate asked.

“No.”

Oh, dear.

It’s a perennial problem, this business of attracting new members. That, and communication. Not to mention the dreaded words marketing, branding, or promotion. We are not comfortable with tooting our own horn, are we? We see a job that needs doing and we do it. We don’t brag. Life is busy enough without taking extra time to write about it on a blog or Facebook or Twitter. Who’s got time for that?

Click on image for Google Maps to Calhoun, NB

I turned to Google to find out where is Calhoun, anyway? The Wikipedia entry is a dry as dust. Calhoun is an unincorporated community in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. Okie dokes, thanks, but I want colour, I want commentary, I want to see faces and recipes and projects and events. Me, me, me, it’s all about me!

Well, yes, to a point, but it’s also all about you, too. You are WI. You are a woman inspired and if you are able to connect with other woman around the world via the internet you will encounter thousands, more likely hundreds of thousands of inspiring woman. You are no longer one fifth of a small and isolated branch next the Trans-Canada highway. You are connected to women all over the world.

I re-learned this yesterday as I gathered information for the June 2015 Triennial Convention in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Organizers invite delegates and speakers and others to attend the event. Alternately, they invite them to send greetings. So far the list of invitees includes the usual suspects: the Queen, the Governor General, and the Mayor of Fredericton.

My mission was to suggest names of people, politicians, heads of state, and anyone else who might help to raise the profile of Women’s Institutes in Canada. I felt very much out of the loop celebrity-wise, important women-wise, high-profile women-wise. I don’t watch TV and I don’t read newspapers or magazines. What to do, what to do?

I wrote a blog post  and asked my readers to make suggestions. Within half a day I had compiled a list of over fifty names. Some I knew, but most I did not.

Click here for Ann's TED Talk Video
Click here for Ann’s TED Talk Video

A friend of mine suggest the name of a 16 year-old science inventor Ann Makosinski from Victoria, BC. Ann had invented a flashlight powered by the heat of her hand. She was inspired to help a female friend in Philippines to study after dark, when there was no light.  My friend went on to say,

If the WI is going to go forward, they will need to reinvent the wheel to keep the interest in the next generations. It goes without saying that these kids were born plugged in and we adults are just playing catch up.

As I read this email from my friend, I thought to myself, thanks, but you are preaching to the choir.

Which is exactly what I am doing here: you are reading this online. You are comfortable with technology and know how to make it work for you and your branch.

But what about those who do not have the resources? What about those who do not have the time, money, equipment, or desire to be online?

It’s Membership Monday. I’d like to start a conversation about communication in general and online communication specifically. How we can bring new members to WI? How can we stay in touch with the members we already have and encourage them to try out the new methods of online communication?

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Find us on Facebook or Twitter.

About WI
Women’s Institute is a local, provincial, national and international organization that promotes women, families and communities. Our goal is to empower women to make a difference.

About FWIC

The idea to form a national group was first considered in 1912. In 1914, however, when the war began the idea was abandoned. At the war’s end, Miss Mary MacIsaac, Superintendent of Alberta Women’s Institute, revived the idea. She realized the importance of organizing the rural women of Canada so they might speak as one voice for needed reforms, and the value of co-ordinating provincial groups for a more consistent organization. In February 1919, representatives of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada.

 

 

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

My hubby bought one of those large sacks of beets from the grocers a couple of weeks back.  He boiled up a huge dutch oven-full and then every morning he slices and fries up one or two for breakfast until they’re used up.

One lonely beet remained in the fridge for a couple of days.

I like beets well enough, but … well, there’s a but. I don’t know why, but beets don’t hit my radar when it comes to meal planning. Today,  I decided to change things up. Today, I made chocolate beet cupcakes. Dessert is part of the meal, right?

Silly, of course it is!

I modified this vegan recipe to use what I had in the cupboard. It took only 45 minutes to prepare and bake. Of course, if you don’t have a beet-eating hubby, you’ll have to factor in the additional time to cook the beets. Can’t wait for hubby to boil up another batch. Or two!

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

Pre-heat oven to 375°F

Prepare muffin tins – makes 1 dozen large or 2 dozen mini-muffins. If you use the silicon trays, you need no liners or oiling.

1 cup milk
1 tsp white vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup beet purée
1 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle for a few minutes.
  2. Then add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and beets and beat until foamy.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Slowly sift the dry ingredients into the beet mix, stirring all the while. Beat until no large lumps remain.
  5. Pour batter into liners, filling 3/4 of the way full.

For large muffins, bake 22 to 25 minutes, mini muffins for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.  Or dust with cocoa powder, if you desire.
Store in an airtight container to keep fresh.

Don’t worry, though. They won’t last.

 

 

muffin pan
I also used those amazing silicon mini-muffin trays. No fuss with paper liners or spray or oil or nuthin’!

 

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Find us on Facebook or Twitter.

About WI
Women’s Institute is a local, provincial, national and international organization that promotes women, families and communities. Our goal is to empower women to make a difference.

About FWIC

The idea to form a national group was first considered in 1912. In 1914, however, when the war began the idea was abandoned. At the war’s end, Miss Mary MacIsaac, Superintendent of Alberta Women’s Institute, revived the idea. She realized the importance of organizing the rural women of Canada so they might speak as one voice for needed reforms, and the value of co-ordinating provincial groups for a more consistent organization. In February 1919, representatives of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada.

Rosemary-Lemon Chicken Skewers

Earlier this month Kate, FWIC’s executive director, hosted a potluck dinner to thank the hard-working volunteers at FWIC and the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead. You may recognize the photo here from Facebook or Twitter. If the smiling faces are any indication, a good time was had by all. Kate said, “We thought the “antlers” would makes us look distinctly “Canadian” for the #IAmWI campaign.” Works for me!

There was plenty of food, as is always the case at a potluck! Special requests went our for Mary Lee’s Rosemary-Lemon Chicken Skewers.

Rosemary-Lemon Chicken Skewers.
Soak small wooden skewers in water for approx 25 mins.
Cut 5 chicken breasts into  1/4″ thick slices
Combine the following
1/2 c olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 c ranch dressing
1 tsp white vinegar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp pepper
1-2 tsp salt
Put chicken pieces in mixture and cover. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Mary Lee put it in the fridge over night.
Skewer the chicken pieces and grill on the BBQ.
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Women’s Institute is a local, provincial, national and international organization that promotes women, families and communities. Our goal is to empower women to make a difference.

About FWIC

The idea to form a national group was first considered in 1912. In 1914, however, when the war began the idea was abandoned. At the war’s end, Miss Mary MacIsaac, Superintendent of Alberta Women’s Institute, revived the idea. She realized the importance of organizing the rural women of Canada so they might speak as one voice for needed reforms, and the value of co-ordinating provincial groups for a more consistent organization. In February 1919, representatives of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada.

 

Marie’s Mom’s Rhubarb Relish

relish

This is an old family recipe which I continue to make at both Thanksgiving and Christmas as my Mom always did. My Mom served it for special occasions and it now has become a tradition for me not only to make it for our family but also for my brothers since my Mom as passed away. The special spice flavour always brings a smile as we remember my Mom whipping this relish up and telling us this is a ‘Family Secret’!

Marie Kenny FWIC President

 

Marie

Marie’s Mom’s Rhubarb Relish

8 cups rhubarb cut-up

3 Tbsp cinnamon

6 – 7 onions diced

3 tsp allspice

4 cups white sugar

3 tsp cloves

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup vinegar

Bring to a boil and let simmer until rhubarb and onions are cooked (tender) 10-15 minutes (depending how finely you have diced). Continue simmering for 5 more minutes stirring constantly. Bottle while hot. [And the Home Economist in me would suggest processing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to ensure a secure seal on the jars-Ann Mandziuk].

Child’s Craft: A Handy Christmas Ornament

handprint ornament
Image Courtesy The Examiner

These aren’t just five snowmen

As anyone can see.

I made them with my hand

Which is a part of me.

Each year when you trim the tree

You will look back and recall

Christmas of 2014

When my hand was just this small.

 

Directions: Use a sponge brush to apply acrylic paint to your child’s hand. (No worries, it will wash off easily with soap & water). Then, keeping fingers spread, gently put handprint on ornament. It’s OK if the paint smudges a bit. That will help form the curves for the snowman. Once the paint dries, add the hats, eyes, etc with paint or permanent markers. Print the poem and tie to the ornament with a ribbon. (Adding the name and date to the ornament would make it a very personal gift for someone special)

Pickles and Fish – Fundraising for Women in India

In her fall newsletter, Sheila Needham, the Canadian Area President of the Associate Country Women of the World (ACWW) sent along details of two fundraising efforts that might be of interest to your WI. The following two projects are the top two choices of the members at the Canada Area Conference that was held in Camrose, Alberta, in June this year. Both are designed to provide financial support to women’s groups in India.

The Grace Trust Project No. 0960. ACWW Grant £3,337

Grace Trust has formed 50 women’s Self Help Groups among disadvantaged rural Dalit women in Sedapatti block, Madurai district, Tamil Nadu. Their plan with this project is to provide a revolving fund to 50 women, so that they can carry out income generating activities, having first participated in skill training. The women will be trained in making pickles, papadums or candles, as well as in quality control, micro credit and savings, and record keeping.

Most of the products will be sold in local villages, as it is known that there is a high demand for these items locally. The women will repay part of the loan each month with 1% interest, and in this way loans will be made to further women Self Help Group members.

The beneficiaries will use the income to buy food for their families and to pay for their children’s schooling, and any other family necessities.

Pickle

The Organization for Community Development (O.C.D) Project No. 0961 ACWW Grant £4,702.

The aim of this project is to train 60 women in fish processing (drying and packaging). These women are among the most marginalized of the fisher folk community, being either widows or having husbands who are invalid or alcoholic. Because they lack resources, they have been forced to borrow money at exorbitant rates of interest from moneylenders in order to purchase fish to sell, and they are then often not able to make a profit owing to fluctuating prices and the perishable nature of fresh fish. They would sell processed fish alongside fresh fish and this would mean that they do not have to sell at a loss, and would have something to sell during the ‘off-season’ (fish breeding season), and when the catch is small owing to stormy weather.

The Federation of Women Head Load Fish Vendors will assist with beneficiary selection, training, micro credit disbursement and monitoring repayments. The training will consist of: processing fish of different varieties according to season and availability (equipment for storing and transporting unsold fish will be provided for the trainees); EDP (Entrepreneurship Development Training); leadership development; micro credit; maintaining accounts.

The Canadian Area has pledged $7,500.00 CAD or £4,123 pounds to be split between the two projects – £1,337 for project (0960 Pickles) and £2,786 (0961 Fish)

For a .pdf copy of this information and details on how to submit and direct your donations, please click here.

Margaret Christensen's ideas

Margaret suggests that the details of the projects be printed on card stock and put up near a collection jar or a fish bowl at any luncheon table that is at a W.I. meeting or other event.

 

Tips for Inspiring the WI Members in your Group

Photo Courtesy http://londonmasalaandchips.blogspot.ca
Photo Courtesy http://londonmasalaandchips.blogspot.ca

TIPS FOR INSPIRING WI MEMBERS :

• Make it a practice to thank your WI members for their efforts
• Encourage, motivate and show enthusiasm for projects and programs
• Plan some fun programs, share jokes and stories
• Keep things simple – do not deal with too many issues at one time
• Find out the issues that the members are interested in and invite speakers on the topics
• Write a resolution about a “burning” issue
• Brainstorm to come up with new ideas or new ways to present old topics.
• Seek feedback from your members by having comments and questions at the end of your meetings
• Solicit program ideas from the membership
• Make sure no member is carrying more responsibilities than she can handle or desire
• Frequently check with each member so that discontent can be known and changes made
• Use the talents of your members
• If certain practices are no longer working in your group, change the way things are being done
• Be flexible – try different ways of meeting, working and planning

W.I. Our goal is to Inspire Women to make a difference! Let’s have fun and make that happen.

Can you add to the list? Join in, please,  and comment below!

#IAmWI – The Highlight Reel

If you were near a social media outlet on Wednesday October 1, you may have spotted some of the smiling faces in the gallery below. Jo Beal of the Cambridge WI in the UK launched the #IAmWI campaign in order to promote the current image of women’s institutes around the world. Take a look and I think you’ll agree, the face of WI is vibrant and bright.