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Fall members-only business meeting

On Wednesday, November 11 at Mount Olive Community Life Center president Maureen Cavaiola welcomed a large gathering of members and immediately attended to the business aspects of the session including a final reading of proposed amendments to our bylaws by Governance Committee chair Donna Stackhouse.  The bylaw amendments were approved by a majority of those in attendance.

Lynn McReynolds, assistant chair of the Leadership Development and Nominating Committee, presented the 2016 Leadership Slate. She asked for additional nominations and there being none, nominations were closed. Members were encouraged to reply to a forthcoming email requesting their vote online as soon as possible and certainly before the December 10 voting deadline.

Tenth Anniversary committee chair and past president Karen Smith offered a preview of planning for the celebration. She explained that the year-long celebration hopes to engage all members in a menu of opportunities to celebrate the impact of our group. "Looking Back and Looking Forward" is the overarching theme.. The year will feature two bookend events: a spring Women & Leadership panel examining “Philanthropy Now” and the fall Grants Showcase focusing on the impact of AAWGT on the grantees, the community and ourselves. Additional celebratory outreach will include expanded membership opportunities, increased marketing and more service projects.

The Founders' Award Presentation to Sandy Sweeney was announced by vice president Mary Grace Folwell, with acknowledgement of Sandy’s outstanding leadership of the Grants Committee, moving the grants process to greater transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness. Sandy was commended for work  integrating technology in AAWGT’s grant making, benefiting all involved in the process.

AAWGT Mission and Grants were the focus of small group discussions. Each group was asked to consider three questions: 1) what are the ways you personally give back to the community; 2) are there areas for improvement in light of the preliminary findings of the Community Foundation’s Poverty Amidst Plenty report; and 3) in five years what should our overall grant strategy look like?
As members reported out for their groups, a broad consensus on issues to be addressed in coming years emerged:

-  Should AAWGT formalize and strengthen advocacy efforts?
-  How do we foster community inclusion?
-  Should there be an annual "mega issue"?
-  What about fewer, larger grants? Or a combination of large and small?
-  Are all areas of the County represented?
-  Should we actively encourage partnerships with similar agencies?
-  How can we help potential applicants write better grant proposals?
-  What about increasing membership and/or fees? Encouraging younger members to join?
-  Can we sharpen the focus on mental health, substance abuse, transportation, immigrants, child care, job skills, and the elderly?

Mary Grace thanked Maureen on behalf of all the members for her warmth, enthusiasm, commitment, and focus on fostering the culture of the organization during her year as president. Maureen described the past year as a great experience and thanked everyone involved in AAWGT this past year.

The General Meeting ended with applause for Maureen and a sense of time well spent planning for the future.

Submitted by Sheila Onuska

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