The branch’s Scholarship Endowment, known as the GEM Fund, is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year. Founded in 2002, GEM’s sole purpose is to raise funds for worthy women whose undergraduate education had been interrupted or delayed.
GEM scholars, ranging in age from 23 to 53, have in common the desire to make a better life through education. For example, some fund recipients are single mothers struggling to make ends meet; some are just now realizing the value of an education in attaining their personal and professional goals; after raising their family, others want to embark on a first or second career. The GEM Fund helps them realize these goals.
By the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, GEM had awarded a total of $163,000, over a total of 144 scholarships. For this year, GEM will award 33 additional scholarships. The growth and success of the GEM Fund is due entirely to the amazing generosity of the AAUW Asheville Branch family, friends and business partners.
In celebration of Women’s Equality Day, branch members attended a breakfast at the Coliseum on August 25th-the date in 1920 when women got the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Governor Cooper’s “Proclamation for
Women’s Equality Day” was read aloud, inspiring the attendees.
On September 18th, the branch will have a “Salad Super” followed by a panel discussion on the topic of “Women on a Mission”. The four panelists-all serving in active community positions supporting women-will address such issues as: how their organization benefits and influences women; how to stay positive and motivated in their mission; and who were the role models/advocates that most inspired them.
On October 20th, the branch will continue its support of Triad Tech Savvy workshops on the UNCG campus for 8th and 9th Grade girls.
The branch’s meeting for September was held on the 11th. Members had been asked to present biographies of famous women, dressed up as those women would have been. Each of these notable women made an impact on others, whether it be her local community, her state, or even the country as a whole.
On October 23rd, the branch will host a membership meeting that will be open to the public. The program will consist of a panel of community women leaders who will discuss the nature of leadership and how women can best pursue roles of this type.
For November, they will have a discussion of the book “Varina”, by Charles Frazier. This novel is about the wife of Jefferson Davis and her experiences coping with her husband and the Civil War years.
The branch has been planning for a Start Smart Workshop to take place on September 13th. This was made possible from AAUW-NC grant funding. However, it was necessary to reschedule this workshop due to the arrival of Hurricane Florence. The new date is Thursday, October 25th.
The host campus will be Wingate University-a first time collaboration with this school. The branch officers and workshop chair are looking forward to a continuing relationship with this university, located in the greater Charlotte area, for future workshop events.
The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce was approached as a possible host for a Work Smart Workshop. They agreed to work with the branch for a Fall 2018 event. Another grant is being applied for to fund this workshop. It will be offered to women currently in the workforce in the greater Charlotte area. A tentative date of November 5th was decided upon pending grant approval.
The Hendersonville Branch joined with the League of Women Voters of Henderson County to register people to vote during the Apple Festival on Labor Day Weekend. They were able to promote branch activities at this time and provided information about the branch to prospective members.
A Tea and Fashion Show is planned for October 18th. This will be a fund raiser for scholarships for women students attending Blue Ridge Community College, as well as statewide. There will be raffle prizes and hat competition prizes with fashions provided by Stein Mart. Reservations are required by October 8th at a cost of $30.00. This year marks the branch’s 10th year of fundraising efforts.
The branch will hold its annual fundraiser for the year-a Scholarship Tea-in October.
Funds are used to send high school students to the Clemson Summer Scholars Program to take STEM courses. In addition, a couple local, older women are awarded scholarships to assist them in pursuing higher education.
Guest speakers invited annually are local, female award-winning authors. This year the branch will host Denise Kiernan, author of “The Girls of Atomic City” about Oak Ridge, TN and “The Last Castle” about the Biltmore Estate and Susan Rivers, author of “The Second Mrs. Hockaday,” a novel set in the Civil War era.
Homemade treats and teas are provided by the members and served by girls in local high school service clubs and a local book shop has the books on site for purchase. Then, as a grand finale, scholarship recipients are asked to share their educational experiences with branch members at a general meeting.