The GFWC Monroe County Federation of Women's Club held their annual fall county meeting on Oct. 24 in the Fellowship Hall of Effort United Methodist Church in Effort. It marked its 70th anniversary, with its members recognizing their long-term dedication to helping the communities in which they live.

The General Federation of Women's Club is a 141 year-old international women's organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. In addition, it has a tradition of addressing social issues affecting women and families through programs that combat violence against women and promote human rights.

The Monroe County Federation of Women's Club is comprised of three local clubs, Blue Mountain, Pocono Mountain and Western Pocono. They are 117 members strong with 17 voting delegates. All 17 delegates were present at the Fall County Meeting where 48 members attended.

Pat Mackes, the county club's secretary read a commendation the organization received in commemorating its 70 anniversary from Senator Patrick Browne.

Some of the words in the commendation read, “Whereas, the GFWC Monroe County Federation of Women's Clubs, through adherence to the highest ideals and standards of service, contributes to the well-being of its community as well as to national and international causes, has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships and ultimately, has benefitted all the citizens of this great Commonwealth .."

Mary Ann LaPorta, Director of Children's Advocacy Program of Northeaster, PA was the guest speaker. She said it was her job to stir up the conscience and consciousness of the people for the welfare of children.

“We want our children to be happy, healthy and fulfilled," she said.

She added that it was our responsibility to protect our children from abuse, giving the statistics of one out of every four girls will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old and one out of every six boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old.

“So far in 2009 our office handled 500 serious cases of abuse and neglect," said LaPorta.

“We use to believe it was 'Stranger-Danger.' Now we learn that it's often family that is the danger. Do you know who is the biggest perpetrator of abuse? Mom's boyfriend."

LaPorta asked all present that if they have knowledge or reasonable doubt of abuse to report it.

“Keep your eyes open, keep your hearts open. Report it," LaPorta pleaded.

One of the district's project is The Blue Bear Brigade and members were asked to make blue fabric stuffed bears for children who may have medical emergencies. They are distributed to ambulances, hospitals and to victims of abuse at Kids First of Monroe County.

Members brought in various items that were donated to Kids First and Women's Resources which were on their Wish Lists.

They held a Scholarship Auction made up of many donated items and raised $709. Every year scholarships from the clubs are awarded to students in the Monroe County school districts.

A delicious lunch was prepared by Ken and Wendy Edwards.

Recognition was given to past presidents of GFWC Monroe County. Seven were present. They were: Pat Mackes, Dottie Sawyer, Elnora Keiper, Cathy Kaas, Karoline Kormann, Andrea Hauck, Nancy Robinson.

Perhaps the Collect for the Clubwomen, which is said at every meeting, says it best about the Women's Clubs and who these women are and what they strive for: “Keep us, Oh God, from pettiness; Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking. may we put aside all pretense and meet each other face to face, without self pity and without prejudice. may we never be hasty in judgment and always generous. Let us take time for all things; Make us grow calm, serene, and gentle. Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straightforward and unafraid. Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences that in the big things of life we are at one. And may we strive to touch and to know the great common human heart of us all; And O Lord God, let us forget not, to be kind."

Judy Grace said, “Saturday was a very special day. Although there are three clubs, on Saturday it was just one club-the County Club. It was wonderful how everyone came together. We were a true sisterhood."

If interested in joining one of the local clubs: The Blue Mountain Women's Club meet the second Tuesday of every month at the Chestnuthill Park building on Rt. 715, Brodheadsville; the Western Pocono Women's Club meets every third Monday at 7 p.m. at the Effort UMC off Rt. 115, Merwinsburg Road, Effort; Pocono Mountain meets on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at Tobyhanna Elementary Center in Pocono Pines.