Membership Monday – Meet Reta MacDonald

If you live on the east coast, you have probably come across Saltscapes.  It is a magazine produced in Halifax.  While the content usually concerns the Atlantic Provinces, it is widely read. Barb Taylor alerted us to the July/August issue that features a profile of WI Life Member Reta MacDonald. In her email, Barb wrote, “WI doesn’t get a lot of publicity, so I thought this was noteworthy.”

I heartily agree.

Since the story is not yet available on the Saltscapes webpage, here are some tidbits to tempt you to seek out your own copy. Once you’ve read Reta’s story, I hope you will be tempted to submit your own!

Reta MacDonald
“The organizations I belong to, we always try to do some good for someone” by Reta MacDonald, as told to Philip Moscovitch for Saltscapes

You could call Reta MacDonald of Ebenezer, PEI a “joiner.” At 82, she is out-going and remains committed to the many community organizations she belongs to. A former teacher – who thought nothing of teaching 10 different grades herself – and a mother of three, MacDonald values the old-fashioned bonds of family and community.

She is particularly proud of her lifelong association with the women’s Institute in PEI. She first joined as a teacher, and eventually served as provincial president. While she jokes that “people have a picture of the Women’s Institute as that tea-drinking group of old ladies who meet, bake and gossip,” she values the way the group has connected her not only to her local community, but also to national and international charitable and educational efforts.

Reta was born in Milton, attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, and she taught in East Wiltshire, North Winsloe, and East Royalty.

In the early days, teachers were expected to join the WI. Local branches maintained the schools. The WI bought toilet tissue, they bought chalk, they bought blackboard erasers – they supplied the school with those essentials. Reta recalls when the WI came to the school and washed the floors and walls in preparation for the new school year.  Reta joined the WI in each town she lived in.  Her mother was also a member.

Reta and her husband Douglas entered their home in the Rural Beautification Society’s annual contest and won the prize — for three consecutive years!

She explained how inclusive WI is – there is no barrier to being a member. For instance, a church club membership is defined by the religious denomination, but we [the WI] welcome everyone. Someone might belong to a church family, but WI is a community family.

Reta worries about the future of the WI with the aging membership and weaker community bonds. Her WI holds an annual “meet your neighbour” night in order to make new friends and a stronger community.

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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.

P.E.I. WI recipe for success: Beet Cake

 

After months of work, Helen Dawson, argricultural convener, left, and Miriam Lank, home economics and health convener, and show the results of their project – the Women’s Institute Island Product Cooking Contest Cookbook.
After months of work, Helen Dawson, agricultural convener, left, and Miriam Lank, home economics and health convener, and show the results of their project – the Women’s Institute Island Product Cooking Contest Cookbook.

If you have a surplus of beets in your garden, you might want to consider this prize-winning recipe. It was awarded “Best of” The Women’s Institute Island Product Cooking Contest Cookbook.  Copies are available at the WI office, 40 Enman Cres., Charlottetown, or by calling 902-368-4860.

Winning recipe: Beet Cake from the June 19th article in The Guardian, by Sally Cole.

3 egg yolks
1 ½ cup white sugar
1 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. hot water
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded raw beets
½ cup raisins or nuts
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

Mix egg yolks, sugar, oil, vanilla and hot water together. Add shredded carrots, shredded beets, raisins, flower, baking powder and salt. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour in tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees C for one hour.

Icing

¼ cup margarine
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup icing sugar

Blend together in a bowl.

If you have a super surplus, give this recipe for Chocolate Beet Cupcakes a try, too!

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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.

 

Making Change Count!

Planting Seeds of Change - Looking Forward
Planting Seeds of Change – Looking Forward

Making Change Count! A letter of introduction from President Linda Hoy. Please share with your membership.

Hello WI,

Welcome to the new Triennium.

The FWIC Convention was a wonderful opportunity for WI to come together to share and plan for the future of this organization. We held a plenary session where we asked for input from all convention attendees on how to ensure the viability of our organization. These key words and phrases were repeated many times:

• Be more visible • Publicize • Promote • Recruit • Reach out

Many of our members at the branch level may not realize how uncertain the future of our organization is. We continue to lose members at a steady rate that even our most successful recruitment strategies at the provincial and national level have not been able to combat. In many branches, WI continues to function as it always has. It is perceived that there is no need to do anything differently or that change will come from above: the provinces or the national level. The truth is, we must all be proactive to revitalize this great organization for women. As a grassroots organization, the power to thrive lies is in the hands of the individual members and the WI branches themselves. The future of WI lies within you and must happen in your community first.

It is imperative that you understand that we need to do things differently. We need to market and promote and be more visible.

Here’s how you can help: if WI is to survive, we need to make ourselves available and open to attracting new members. We need to be visible to gain credibility among other nonprofits and for-profit agencies and funding bodies. This means we must be proud of our organization and promote ourselves.

Get into the habit of alerting the public of upcoming meetings and special WI events by writing press releases and reports before and after your events. Designate someone in your branch as Media Coordinator: it could be considered THE most important role if the WI is to succeed.

In most areas, the local newspapers are eager for content and will print your meeting and event reports in their entirety. Take pictures and include them. Remember to smile!

Once you’ve tackled print media, set your sights on social media. Facebook has been credited over and over for outstanding marketing success. It’s free, it’s fun. It’s folly to ignore it.

Let us all continue to work together, For Home & Country,
Linda Hoy, President
Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada

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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.

 

#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.