It is a pleasure to report on the 76th year of the Amherst League of Women Voters. It was a gratifying year, as the membership rose to the challenges that we face as an organization. It has been a real privilege to serve as co-presidents of this vibrant and significant group.
We decided to summarize the 2014-2015 League year by drawing on what we wrote in the Presidents’ comment column we shared in the League’s Bulletin. As you know, we shared responsibility for the column on a monthly basis throughout the year. So (with slight edits) —
July-August, 2014 (Kathy) “At Annual Meeting we decided to re-envision our League and to think about what we do in new, innovative ways. We hope to streamline and reconfigure our procedures and tasks so that what we want to do to fulfill our League’s mission better matches what we realistically are able to do…We began the task at Annual Meeting by forming two task forces to study the issues and consider solutions. The work will continue throughout the year.”
September, 2014 (Kathy) “I was fortunate to have spent time this summer in Washington D.C. at the National Archives. I walked in and looked at scenes of the founding fathers and thought—OK, these are the men who created our republic, but wouldn’t it be great if there also were a depiction of all the many types of people who now define our democracy and represent what we are today? Then I looked around at the people who were there, like me, to look at the archives. And I realized that the people of our democracy were depicted, were represented, because they were physically there—female, male, trans, black, white, brown, old, young disabled, rich, poor, etc. I was greatly moved and left with renewed energy to help make democracy continue to work and grateful to the League for giving me a direct and effective way to do that.”
October 2014 (Cynthia) “League members, under the leadership of Marcie Sclove and Judy Brooks, are busy registering voters in a variety of places all over town.” We partnered with NAACP in several registration drives, as well as holding voter registration in many locations. On October 22, the LWV of Amherst offered testimony to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women on three women’s issues which the League has positions on: reproductive rights, domestic violence reduction and pay equity.
November, 2014 (Kathy) “At its October meeting, the Board endorsed a new program that we hope some of you will take an interest in—The New Member Mentor Program! It is designed to pair new members with old (old meaning you have been in the League for at least a year!) The old member will act as a buddy, friend, wise advisor, helper—you get the idea—to the new member.”
December 2014 (Cynthia) “We (LWV) must take a lead in trying to improve our elections, voter participation, removing money form politics and reforming our campaign and election systems. It is what we stand for.”
January, 2015 (Kathy) “2015—A new year. What does it mean for the LWVA? Both change and continuity. First the change. The two task forces that were formed at Annual Meeting last May to ‘re-envision’ our League have met numerous times and are making great progress. The Book Sale Fund Raising Task Force is evaluating our annual Book Sale . The Organizational Structure Task Force is considering possible changes in our organizational structure. Now for continuity. Your League will definitely be doing some changing over the course of 2015-2016 , but the most important things we do for the community and our members will continue. Changes will be tried out and discussed with the membership for evaluation.”
February, 2105 (Cynthia) “The one thing that makes the LWV unique is that we are nonpartisan and neither support nor oppose political candidates or parties.” February was a busy month of for the LWV of Amherst. Speaker Cheryl Zoll spoke on women's health and Tapestry Health services, Representative Ellen Story spoke at our annual LWVA Luncheon and the League spearheaded and partnered with community organizations to present “Good Mental Health: It Starts With a Conversation.”
March, 2015 (Kathy) “What does the LWVA do for the community to achieve our goal of making democracy work? After discussion with others, here is a list of the “top” things for you to consideration: register voters; study issues, develop positions, and act on the positions; partner with organizations with similar missions; educate the membership and the community about public policy issues and community affairs; lobby our elected officials; hold warrant reviews; speak at TM about our positions; hold candidates nights; produce publications about Amherst’s town government; produce non-partisan voter-election guides.”
April, 2015 (Cynthia) “Our league is changing. Our members have less time to give as volunteers and there are many distractions.” We will be voting on organizational changes at the Annual Meeting. We urged all members to come to Annual Meeting in May to ask questions, give feedback and vote on the Board recommended changes. One thing that hasn’t changed is the LWVA Book Sale. It will be held again this year on the Town Common on May 1,2 and 3.
May, 2015 (Kathy) “As you know, at Annual Meeting 2014, two task forces were formed, one to streamline and improve our fundraising endeavors beginning with our Book Sale, and a second task force to improve and enhance our organizational structure. Each task force will report at Annual Meeting 2015. The Amherst League is moving forward with spirit and dedication. As we improve our League, we are better able to support the country and “make democracy work” for all our people. The two of us (Kathy Vorwerk and Cynthia Brubaker) want you to know what a privilege it has been, and how truly honored we feel to have served as co-presidents of the Amherst League of Women Voters.”
Kathy Vorwerk and Cynthia Brubaker