Dear Members –

Sending you much aloha as we start off this New Year!

I want to update you all with some exciting news. Our Holiday Party and Service Auction was an amazing financial success for our scholarship fund.  For the first time ever – Hilo Branch had a profit for scholarships of $2,996 in just ONE event!!!   This is thanks to the hard work of Kathi Katz, our Fundraising VP, and Annette Barr, Events VP, as well as most generous donations of a diversity of auction items for the event, and the many purchasers of those items.  The Holiday Party/ Service Auction event was always considered an important fundraiser for the branch.  Most years we had made a profit of $1,000, then worked our way up to profit of $1,200, and last year $1,800.  So much Kudos to Kathi and Annette who now orchestrated the Holiday event to this new “Hilo-high level”.  They did this, while assuring everyone was enthused and happy at the event, which was held at the gracious home of Sheryl Rawson.   Mahalo, Mahalo to all.

More great financial news—The Executive Board reviewed our financials from last year and agreed that Hilo Branch can award $6,000 in scholarships come May, 2017.  As you remember, typically Hilo was only able to award $4,000 in scholarships- so this is a huge increase.  Note our scholarship budget is based on the prior year financials, so we can assure we meet our commitments.  Profits from this year’s fundraisers be used for the next fiscal year scholarships in 2018.

On a member update – we currently have 99 branch members.  National AAUW provides limited data to compare Hawaii branches with each other. So, while the info below represents “older” information from 2016 – it gives a positive read on our Branch member status. For example –AAUW national compared Hilo with the seven other branches in Hawaii (Diamond Head/ Koko Head; Honolulu; Kauai; Kona; Maui and Winward Oahu).  In 2016- over a three -year period -Hilo had an increase of member growth of 39.44%, compared with Kona who increased 23.53%. Honolulu increased 108.33%, but still only has 75 members.  Other branches had a negative rate of growth over a three -year period, per national.

Speaking of members- we want to formally congratulate branch member Eileen O’Hara who won the election in the Hawaii County District Four and is now installed as the County Council there.  Also, Kudos to former co-president of Hilo Branch Kristen Luning- who had two pieces of her artwork shown in the recent Lilikuolani Art Stroll in Hilo.

We look forward to our annual Bi-Branch Luncheon on 1/28/17 with Kona Branch at the Hilo Yacht club.  At that time Hilo AAUW member Julie Goettsch will share how the Big Island came to be nicknamed “The Orchid Isle” and what the three orchid societies on the island are doing today to give the new meaning to the old name with today’s “Orchid isle Project.”  Julie plans on gifting luncheon attendees with a beautiful plant if they agree to mount it in their yard where passers-by, both visitors and locals, can enjoy it.  Julie will also explain how to place the orchid and care for it before attendees take home their new treasure!

Please put Thursday Feb. 23rd on your calendar – when we will host our third general meeting of the season – to be held at Hawaii Community College. Our guest speaker is Phyllis Cullen.  Phyllis is a physician, and artist, and Hilo AAUW member.  Phyllis’ own writeup re her 2/23 presentation follows:

“My work as a volunteer physician in third world countries took me to 43 different locations to provide medical care and training for local health care providers. I am now semi -retired from medicine, allowing me more time to pursue my interests in art. I have been painting, creating fiber art, quilts, mixed media for most of my life, and my artwork has been displayed, collected, and has allowed me to teach around the world.

One of my latest art interests has been my participation in a project, called HERstory, honoring great women of the last century. Along with other fiber artists, individual works celebrating each woman and her achievements have been created. The combined exhibit will travel to numerous venues, each work accompanied by extensive written documentation. A book will be printed as well.

I will be showing my contributions to this project, as well as a slide show of several other artists’ works. I will also be showing examples and slides of more of my work, with a nod to the time- honored artistry of the predominantly female art/craft of quilt-making.  I am honored to share this work with my fellow members of AAUW.”

I know you will want to join us for this Feb. 23rd general meeting and I will be sending out reminders in a few weeks.

Also, please mark your calendars for our upcoming fundraiser on Sat. April 8th: “Ice Cream Social by the Pool”.  Members will be asked to bring “items too good for a garage sale” for a silent auction.   Details will follow later in an Evite.

Don’t forget that we will be continuing our social weekly Bamboo Hale luncheons at Hawaii Community College.  Past President Rosemarie Muller will be coordinating the weekly luncheons and has started and will continue to communicate with members on a regular basis via other emails.

So please watch for other emails regarding upcoming events.  Check out our AAUW Hilo Facebook page, as well as our website:  Much thanks to Rosemarie Muller who is updating these two social media platforms on a regular basis.  Also, remember to keep Membership VP Julie Goettsch  ( updated re any changes to your contact information – so she can update our electronic member directory, which you can access via our branch website.

Sending you all positive thoughts—

Elizabeth Hansen
Branch President