The Federation Family

Learning to understand the different levels of the Federation can be very confusing, both to the new member and also to a member who has been in club work for awhile.  Often, when we have new member functions, we talk about the GFWC, GFWC Virginia, your district name here, your club name here and so on, and we of course are certain that everyone goes home and understands everything right?  What I’m going to try to do tonight is explain, in an easy to understand way, the different ladders of the Federation using the family as my comparison.  This is not such a strange comparison, because I think Federation and all its members are like a family.  Just as you depend on your family to help you make decisions or get you through hard times, or share with you the good times, those friends you make through the Federation can help you through these times also.  Some of my closest friends today are those I have made through club work and ties with the Federation, and I think of them, somewhat, as a family.  

The definition of “family” in Webster’s dictionary is “a group of people sharing a common ancestry”.  We are a group of women sharing a common ancestry – that being the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.  That is where our club roots come from.  The General Federation of Women’s Clubs was born in 1890, over 100 years ago.  We can compare the GFWC in our “club” family to our grandmother in our own families.  Just as our grandmothers are the link and backbone of a family, the GFWC is the link and backbone of the Federation.  Once you become a member of a woman’s club, you are automatically a member of the Federation.  The GFWC is both nationwide and worldwide.  Club members just like us are involved in clubs in other states and countries.... but there is a bond there that links us all together – that bond being that we are all members of this very special family – the General Federation of Women’s Club.  The GFWC has a President, a President-elect, a First vice President, a Second Vice President, a Secretary and a Treasurer, very similar to this club.  The GFWC also has community service programs and committee chairmen, just like this club.  The only difference is that GFWC has women serving in those positions from all over the country, since we are an international organization, whereas members within your own club fill these positions.  Just as we rely and depend on Grandma for wisdom and information, we depend on GFWC for information and guidance also.  Everyone knows that grandmothers can be a wonderful source of knowledge and a wealth of information.  Well, so can the GFWC.  A lot of information is available on the history and background of GFWC, as well as information on the many projects and programs that are promoted in the community service programs and committees.  All you have to do is call GFWC headquarters in Washington, DC for a listing of available materials or visit their website at gfwc.org. So remember, just as Grandma is there to offer support, so is GFWC.  

The next member of our family is our mother.  Our mother can be compared to GFWC Virginia.  The GFWC gave birth to GFWC Virginia in 1907.  The organizing club was the Woman’s Club of Lynchburg, and the woman responsible for organizing GFWC Virginia was Alice Kyle, now fondly referred to as “Mother” Kyle.  We all know that moms can be very influential in our lives – we learn many, many things from our mothers.  They teach us wonderful qualities:  sharing, caring, giving of ourselves, unselfishness, independence, just to name a few.  GFWC Virginia gives us the same qualities.  The GFWC Virginia family I know shares their knowledge; they care about people and worthy causes.  They also give of themselves when needed and are definitely unselfish with their resources and their time.  Just as our mother is directly related to our grandmother, GFWC Virginia is directly related to GFWC.  GFWC Virginia is a member of GFWC, abiding by the rules and bylaws of the GFWC.  Just as clubs from all over the world make up the GFWC, clubs from around Virginia make up the GFWC Virginia.  And, just as our grandmothers hand down advice, recipes and traditions to our mothers, GFWC hands down advice, projects and recipes for success to GFWC Virginia, who in turn will hand it down to your club.  We all depend on the older and wiser members of our family.  Our clubs depend on GFWC and GFWC Virginia.  And just as the GFWC has officers and chairmen from all over the country, GFWC Virginia has officers and chairmen from all over the state.  

The next member of our family is the daughter.  We now have three generations…grandmothers, mothers, and daughters.  The daughter can be compared to the District.  Virginia has 8 districts.  Our district is “your district name”.  Just as daughter’s report and listen to their mothers, your “Name District” reports and complies with directives from GFWC Virginia.  Daughters learn a great deal from GFWC Virginia.  It is the daughter’s responsibility to take all the information, wisdom and advice from their mother and teach it to their children, and just so, it is the “Name District”’s responsibility to take all the information they learn and pass it on to the individual clubs.  

That is where the child comes into the family.   The child can be compared to the individual clubs in the district, most specifically the club, the “your club name here”.  The child is very important to the family.  They keep the family going and are our leaders of the future.  If we did not have children to keep the family going, it would die out.  You, the member, are vital to the Federation family.  Just as a child is linked to the grandmother through the mother and the daughter, the club member and the club is linked to GFWC through Name District and GFWC Virginia.  If you do not understand something in your family, don’t you usually consult one of your family members?  Well you can ask any of the members of the Federation Family questions on things you do not understand as well.  If your club does not have the answer, go to Name District, GFWC Virginia, or to GFWC.  Remember that the only dumb question is the one you DON’T ASK.  

There you have it, the structure of GFWC, GFWC Virginia, Name District, and the Your Club Name here operating in the same manner only on a smaller scale…thus we have our Federation Family.  The Federation Family is supportive, caring, and informative and has your best interest at heart…just like your own family.  When you go to a family reunion, that’s when you see all of these family members and learn many things about your family that you may not have known before.  When you go to Conference or Convention, to Fall or Annual District Meetings, this is like going to a family reunion.  You get to meet members from all over Name District and the state of Virginia, share information and gather ideas.  

As I said before, each club member is very important to the Federation.  In your own families, you grow and expand your interest, and likewise you will do this with your Federation Family.  Each district, state and GFWC leader is a member of a single club, just like you.  And each of these leaders were at one time brand new club members…so you can indeed learn and grow and take on many new challenges and leadership roles, as a member of the Federation Family.    

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