Editorials By JoEllen McNeal

JoEllen puts pen to paper to write for many of the newsletters. Her editorials are insightful and timely.

Editorials for 2010

Editorial January/February 2010

Seeking the Truth

Since its inception back in 1996‚ the FRWRC has attempted to be an uplifting force in our community. We have welcomed everyone to become part of our organization and have been a non–partisan‚ non–religious affiliated‚ not–for–profit organization as prescribed by the State of Virginia. Because we welcome all beliefs‚ we have often not spoken out about world events that are impacting our daily life but lately it has felt to me as if we are stifling our voices if we don’t dare to speak our deepest hopes and our personal truths openly.

Every day we are bombarded by the great issues facing our country and our world. The failing environment that is not sustainable on our present course is of upmost importance. The threat of terrorism as shown by the “underpants bomber” on Christmas day has brought its reality back to headline status. In our own country‚ the health care debate is of extreme importance and will impact all of our lives. I needn’t belabor the point — we all know that there are many problems facing our lives and our world — economic‚ political‚ and spiritual issues are at the fore of most of our lives.

As caring women who are doing so much in our local community to make it a better place‚ what else can we do‚ how can we be a part of the solution and help make this a better world for our children? For those of you who attended last September’s Breakfast‚ you heard the new President of Shenandoah University‚ Tracy Fitzsimmons‚ speak about the importance of women daring to speak out and getting involved in whatever issue was most important to them. A spiritual teacher I revere spoke that the most important thing in our lives is to discover the most important thing. For him‚ it was to find out the truth — the truth of who or what we are. Each one of us will have a different answer to what is most important; for me love‚ truth‚ beauty and freedom all head my list — I can’t pick just one. But I have been thinking about truth and how often it is distorted to align with the times or current events and how often I keep myself small and safe because of some belief I have grown up with or developed over time.

As we begin 2010‚ I want to issue a challenge to myself and to all of you — dare to seek the truth. As thinking women‚ we need to learn to question what comes to us through the media and equally important‚ we need to begin to question beliefs we have about ourselves and our world. Are we truly who we think we are? Are we living our life’s dream? Are we welcoming joy and happiness into our lives? How are we connected to each other and the world? What is calling to us from the deepest reaches of our soul?

I have no answers‚ only questions these days. I hope throughout this year that we can perhaps start a dialogue of voices that are seeking to know the truth and speak our truth in our lives and our world. That to me seems to be the first step in becoming part of the solution.

JoEllen McNeal

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Editorial March/April 2010

March is Women’s History Month

It is with the greatest pleasure that we celebrate National Women’s History Month. March 2010 marks the 30th anniversary of the national recognition of Women’s History Week, which later became Women’s History Month. This year is also the 90th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote. We have much to celebrate!

This month, we honor and remember the many women who fought so hard to obtain the right to vote for women. The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified on August 18, 1920, when the 36th state, Tennessee, voted to ratify the amendment. The ratification was certified on August 26, 1920. We have come a long way in 90 years due to the legacy of determined women who braved imprisonment and ridicule so that all women’s voices could be heard. We hope that you will join with us to celebrate our history this month.

In celebration of women, we have some wonderful programs planned and you will find a flyer insert in this newsletter containing all the details. First up is our Dare to Dream Breakfast where we present our annual Dare to Dream Grants. This year we will present 6 grants to local women totaling $4,450.00. This year’s grant recipients are as follows: Teresa Chillemi will utilize her $500 to receive a medical office assistant certification at LFCC: Michele Shenk will use her $1,000 to pay tuition at Shenandoah University where she is working on a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership; Celinda Davidson will utilize $750 for an on-line course in real-time Court Reporting; Julie Jenkins will put her $700 towards a new computer for her home tax business; Felicia Burke, a high school student, will take a $1,000 cosmetology course to provide a vocation while putting herself through college; and Melissa Fritts will utilize $500 to take an on-line course in Planetary Herbology. We hope that many of you will come out to meet and congratulate these women who are moving forward with their dreams while being inspired by the words of Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, the female President of Lord Fairfax Community College who will be the keynote speaker.

We are excited about a special program that we are co-sponsoring with the Friends of Samuels Library. Betsy Means, a professional actress based in Chicago, will present dramatic portrayals of famous women from history utilizing journals, history and period costumes. It is an honor to have Betsy with us and we invite you to attend a lovely tea and reception before Betsy’s presentation to meet the actress.

JoEllen McNeal

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Editorial May/June 2010

Honoring Mothers

It is spring in Virginia, the eye-popping season when everything seems to be flowering, growing and greening; a perfect time to honor mothers along with our great mother, nature. In the United States, it is customary to honor our mothers by sending cards, flowers or candy but according to the woman who helped make Mother’s Day a national holiday, we’ve got it all wrong. Let’s take a look at “her-story.”

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe authored the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” one of the early calls to celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States. Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation “was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.” (wikipedia). Then in 1914, Mother’s Day was nationally recognized as a holiday after a campaign by Anna Jarvis. Most of us have heard of Julia Ward Howe but who then was Anna Jarvis?

Anna was born in the tiny town of Webster in Taylor County, West Virginia. The family moved to nearby Grafton, West Virginia in her childhood and she eventually graduated from what is now Mary Baldwin College in 1883. On May 12, 1907, two years after her mother’s death, Anna held a memorial for her mother and thereafter embarked upon a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday. She succeeded in making this nationally recognized in 1914. The International Mother’s Day Shrine was established in Grafton to commemorate her accomplishment.

By the 1920s, Anna Jarvis had become soured by the commercialization of the holiday. She incorporated herself as the Mother’s Day International Association, trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and was once arrested for disturbing the peace. She and her sister Elsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against the holiday. Both died in poverty. According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. As she said, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!” Anna Marie Jarvis never married and had no children. She died in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.” (wikipedia)

As the US holiday was adopted by other countries and cultures, the date was changed to fit already existing celebrations honoring motherhood, like Mothering Sunday in the UK or the Orthodox celebration of Jesus in the temple in Greece. In some countries it was changed to dates that were significant to the majority religion, like the Virgin Mary day in Catholic countries, or the birthday of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad in Islamic countries. Other countries changed it to historical dates, like Bolivia using the date of a certain battle where women participated. Despite Anna Jarvis’s regrets, Mother’s Day lives on in the world as a day when we pay tribute to mothers, our real life heroines. Mothers do deserve their own day at least once a year.

JoEllen McNeal

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Editorials 2010