The Women's Alliance President's Report, May-June 2020

by Mary Geissman.

To use a cliché, this has been a time like no other. Along with All Souls, the Women’s Alliance has been trying to adapt to the “shelter at home” conditions. Following the church shutdown on March 12, we cancelled the scheduled March 18 meeting. However, we held our previously scheduled Board meeting on March 26, via Zoom, and made plans to return to programming with Zoom. We held our April meeting on schedule with our previously scheduled speaker Julie Wosk. With technical help from Cecily Millen, Julie presented an interesting talk, with slides, about the history of women and machines. The meeting also included tributes to Jane Alwais by Sandra Ekberg and Shellie Bailkin. We will continue to hold our regular monthly meetings on Zoom at least in May and June – and maybe later. The Executive Committee is meeting monthly during this period. At our last meeting we decided to issue the May-June Alert and will continue to communicate with members via email and may put out a July-August issue.

In addition to this being a time of disruption for all of us, it has been a period of extreme sadness for the Alliance and me personally with the death of Betty McCollum from COVID-19. Betty was my mentor in the Alliance as well as my good friend. I first got to know her when she was President and I went on some of the museum outings. At the time, I was relatively new to the Alliance. Later, when Lynn Gioiella asked me if I would consider being nominated for Vice-president with likely succession to President, I consulted Betty to find out what the position involved. I remember her telling me that it was “like having a job.” I continued to get advice from Betty all during my time as President, and we became good friends. As we both lived on the West Side, we often were together on the 79th Street bus or walked through Central Park together. We also went to concerts, films, and museums together, and I was privileged to be invited to visit her on Shelter Island. Betty was a good friend to many of us as well as a talented ambassador for the Women’s Alliance and All Souls.

The Women’s Alliance will make an appropriate donation to All Souls in Betty’s memory, and we encourage our members to make individual contributions in her memory to All Souls Annual Giving. When we get back in the Sanctuary there will be a Celebration of Betty’s Life.

Finally, I want to thank our Ministers -- Galen, Audette, Tracy, and Pamela -- for their support during this time, as well as our Staff, especially Cecily for her technical support. I hope you are taking part in many of All Souls' wonderful Zoom programs.

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