In the fall of 2005, then AAUW Flagler Branch President, Margie Bushnell, informed the branch membership of the changes in membership eligibility established by the national AAUW. Many branch members objected to the new basis for membership and a committee was established to study the feasibility of establishing an independent organization. After spending some months studying this issue, the committee decided there were more advantages than disadvantages to creating a new organization, chief among those being:
- The retention of the original intent of having members with bachelor degrees or higher.
- The ability to set dues at a much lower rate and the ability to keep all dues and fundraising monies within our community.
- The ability to control, locally, how all monies were spent.
Thus, the new organization – the University Women of Flagler – was established to work to achieve the same goals as the AAUW – promoting equity for all women and girls, lifelong education, and positive societal change – but at the local level rather than nationally.
During the late fall of 2005 and early spring of 2006, several organization steps were taken, in large part by a committee comprised of Jane Mealy (chair), Nancy Smith, Dell Trayer, Mikki Weaver, Mindell Brown, and Diane Parisi:
- By-laws and policies were written.
- With the assistance of an accountant (the organization’s Registered Agent), articles of incorporation were written and the organization was registered with the Internal Revenue Service;
- the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations; and the Florida Department of Revenue as a 5.01(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with the ability to raise funds for charitable purposes. Laura Szczechowicz assisted in obtaining the name of the accountant and potential insurance company for liability and bonding insurances.
- A logo and promotional materials were developed and distributed. Among these was a brochure, designed by Pam Sellars, which lists the goals of the organization, along with the interest groups, and the benefits of membership. It also includes a membership application.
- Checking accounts were opened at Cypress Coquina Bank.
- Several of those who were to become members made donations to the organization as seed money
- 2006-07 meeting dates and places were established, along with the types of fundraisers and committees/interest groups that were to occur.
- Procedures for the donation of scholarships were established.
- Means for the creation and distribution of a monthly newsletter and annual membership directory were created.
An organizational meeting, attended by the potential general membership, was held at the Palm Coast Yacht Club on June 17, 2006, during which the following occurred:
- Officers pro tem were selected, to serve until the election in October.
- The By-laws and Policies were reviewed and approved
- Additional suggestions for committees and fundraisers came forth.
The organization was official on July 1, 2006 with 88 members. As of January 1, 2007, the membership stood at 99. Both the Board and the general membership have met monthly, there have been some fundraising activities and some cultural events, as well.
Over the summer, a nominating committee was appointed to select officers for that October election. That slate was published in the September and October newsletters. All the officers pro tem were elected in October.
The main purpose of the organization, especially in its first year, was to provide as many scholarships as possible to graduating high school young women. We happily were able to provide four $250 such scholarships. To date, the University Women of Flagler has award fifty-two (52) scholarships.
The scholarships awarded thus far amount to over $53,000.
Take Stock in Children
In addition, we pledged to support the Flagler County Education Foundation’s Take Stock in Children program by sponsoring one student at the rate of $2000 per year for five years. The first five-year commitment has been completed and UWF is now sponsoring its second student.