A group of Peninsula women want to add a particular sparkle to 2019 for someone, as part of efforts to mark a milestone year and honour “a true lady.”
Joined by a desire to make a difference for other women, members of the Canadian Federation of University Women White Rock/Surrey plan to present a $10,000 bursary this spring to a woman pursuing post-graduate studies.
The “one-time” award is in celebration of the chapter’s 60th anniversary. It also honours a longtime club member who died unexpectedly last fall.
Elizabeth Bordeaux, a founding member of the local chapter’s bursary program, was “a driving force in the organization,” said club vice-president Jenny Lindsay.
“Very passionate about what the club stood for and what we did.”
Bordeaux died in November at the age of 82. At the time, she had been a CFUW member for 54 years.
Lindsay said Tuesday that she credits her membership in the club to Bordeaux, who brought her to a meeting as a guest two years ago.
“I just started playing bridge with Elizabeth and she started talking to me about the club,” Lindsay said. “Now, I’m on the executive.”
Lindsay was the newest of three members of the local chapter to visit Peace Arch News Tuesday, but her years, combined with those logged by Maureen Buchholz and Carolyn Oram, represent more than seven decades of devotion to the cause.
The CFUW is a non-partisan, self-funded organization that strives to ensure that all girls and women have equal opportunities and access to education in an environment where their human rights are respected.
The national body formed 100 years ago. Since the local club’s launch in 1959, more than $300,000 in bursaries has been awarded to students who have entered a post-secondary program. The first bursary was $100; for the past several years, the awards have each been valued at $3,000.
The $10,000 Jubilee Bursary, to be presented in May, is to go to a woman from the community who is in financial need and has a proven track record of impacting women’s lives through health care, community service, arts, science, technology, education, engineering, mathematics or law.
Buchholz, a former PAN staffer who joined the club 25 years ago, said she knows firsthand the difference financial assistance can make when pursuing an education.
Her own education “50-some years ago” was funded by scholarships and bursaries, she said.
“I don’t remember the groups (that the money came from),” she said. “I know how much it meant.”
Lindsay, Buchholz and Oram are also hopeful that word of the milestone bursary award will help raise awareness of the club as a whole.
While membership is around 90, many people “either don’t know we exist or don’t understand what we stand for,” Lindsay said.
Thanks to Bordeaux, she said,“now I am seeing how the club is involved in the community supporting women.”
In addition to fundraising for bursaries and lobbying for women’s rights, the club promotes fellowship. Special-interest groups and committees meet regularly, and include Dames who Dine, Club Cuisine, The Bridgets-Afternoon Bridge, Stitch and Chat, Golf for Fun and more.
It’s “more than just lunch and movies,” Lindsay noted. “We do that, but there’s a little more substance.”
Oram – a member since 1974 – also co-ordinates a literacy program that sees volunteers work with students at H.T. Thrift and Peace Arch elementaries.
An interesting, but perhaps little-known, change in the organization that she, Buchholz and Lindsay hope will help boost membership is that, as of two years ago, there is no longer a requirement for prospective members to have a university degree.
“It used to be quite, not open,” Oram said of the long-held restriction. “Even if you had a degree, it was, ‘Oh, where’s it from?’”
For Lindsay, who trained in-house as a medical technician, the change opened up a door to involvement that she found “gives me a sense of self-worth.”
“I’m trying in my own little, tiny way to make a difference for women.”
For more information on the Jubilee Bursary, visit www.cfuwwhiterocksurrey.com
For information about joining the CFUW, email Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org