AWCA Shines at FAWCO Interim Meeting in The Hague

by AWCA FAWCO Rep Lauren Mescon

It was the most power-packed FAWCO meeting I’ve attended, dense with information and knowledgeable speakers.   — Susan Ailleris

The AWCA contingency, from left to right: Meg Brew, Lauren Mescon, Jennifer van Lent, Barbara Clement, Rhonda Jimenez, Cheryl Steenman-Bash, Julie Lehr, Susan Ailleris, Christine Rigby-Hall and Martha Canning. 

Everywhere you looked or listened at the FAWCO Interim Meeting in The Hague, Amsterdam was in the spotlight.

At the opening session, our club received a FAWCO Rep award, and that was only the beginning. Our incredible group of 10 club members, many of whom were first-timers, made us the club with the second highest number of attendees at the meeting. It was a well-attended meeting that drew women from 42 clubs in 22 countries, ranging in location from Australia to Moscow to India to Colombia. In session after session, AWCA was recognized — verbally and in photos — for our fundraising efforts and our club’s community-building. Our campaigns, Raising Our Hands for Education, Sharing Our Gifts for Good and our Tulip Gala, were offered as examples of best practices to other clubs.

At the final session, an AWCA-nominated club, Safe Spaces, was awarded a development grant for $4,500 to #Reboot Computer Literacy. Many thanks to Sherri Zwail for all her hard work.

Julie and I were "busting our buttons" with pride the entire weekend, and I think I can safely say our president was, too!

Thank you to everyone…we have created a fantastic community at AWCA and it is a model for other clubs in FAWCO.

 

Note from the editor: Lauren (on right above) didn't include this in her article, but she was recognized for her work as a FAWCO rep. Congratulations, Lauren!

Impressions from AWCA members who attended:

I happily wore my Amsterdam chapter badge — which gave me instant celebrity status, thanks to our FAWCO reps Lauren and Julie. Amsterdam has made quite a mark on FAWCO, raising almost a third of all money raised for the Target Project thus far and bringing new ideas and excitement to the cause. —Rhonda Jimenez

Meg Brew: I learned about all of the resources and connections we can make, for things for my family like guidance for colleges and US tax reforms, and for our club, financial tips, and Thirsty Thursdays for a pub night in Haarlem!

It was great meeting so many new interesting women from all over the world. Every time I sat down, I sat by someone new. I really enjoyed hearing about their areas, clubs, families, and travels.

Lauren, Martha, Julie & Susan "hatting fun" with the Alice and Wonderland theme.

Susan Ailleris: It was the most power-packed FAWCO meeting I’ve attended, dense with information and knowledgeable speakers. Things I’m excited about:

  1. FAWCO is officially an NGO and has a seat at the UN table where we have a say, however small, in actual policy formation. A random example? FAWCO’s name, along with those of 94 other NGOs, is on the bottom of a letter drafted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights supporting continued funding of Planned Parenthood in the US. This would absolutely not be possible to do as a private citizen alone, or even as a club alone, but only as a consolidated voice with other NGOs. I will be joining this team.
  2. Don’t like the FATCA requirements? FAWCO is also our voice in Washington, D.C., where they are working with other groups of overseas Americans to change the definition of one small but very important word - FOREIGN. Your foreign bank accounts are currently defined as accounts outside of the US; imagine how much easier life will be when they are defined as accounts outside of your country of residence. No more reporting your grocery account. And...
  3. I found out: only 4% of the 8 million Americans living outside of the US actually VOTE. Expect to hear me lobbying on this in the near future… oh, yeah, and...
  4. How cool is it that our own Sherrie Zwail and her Safe Spaces charity won a $4,500 development grant? That’s free money, ladies! Does anyone else have a charity they’d like to see supported?

I was proud to rub elbows with our prize-winning reps Lauren and Julie, the relentless Meg Brew (former FAWCO secretary, by the way) who helps us reap the benefits of FAWCO, and with our soon-to-be-president Rhonda Jimenez, who I know learned a lot from other club presidents in attendance. Thanks to all!

Lauren Mescon (left) with Amanda Lane of Hope Beyond Displacement

Rhonda Jimenez: What’s down the rabbit hole? The Alice in Wonderland theme for the Saturday evening gala perfectly suited how I felt as I entered the world of FAWCO. Yes, it is a whole world — with women from Marrakech to Moscow. I felt awkward that first moment I entered but quickly found a perfect fit just like Alice did. I happily wore my Amsterdam chapter badge — which gave me instant celebrity status, thanks to our FAWCO reps Lauren and Julie. Amsterdam has made quite a mark on FAWCO, raising almost a third of all money raised for the Target Project thus far and bringing new ideas and excitement to the cause. I learned so much attending the seminars taught by brilliant, eager women wanting to make a change in the world. It was so inspiring — I filled a notebook with ideas for our club. My final impression was how vast a resource we have in FAWCO: a friend in every port, a colleague to ask a favor or question, a mentor to support you, a teacher to educate us, a sister to challenge our perspective and, most of all, a girlfriend to share this amazing experience with.