“Oh,” she said smiling, “a gift for me. I can’t think of anything more lovely.”

And given her delight, I knew with a flash the wisdom of scripture that says, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” The gift long forgotten, but her joy is forever remembered. I remember this friend as the holiday season begins.  And think of how I can use this season to meditate on ideas for the January 2017 WiVLA meeting as I do my holiday chores.

At our January 17, 2017 member meeting our members will be asked to participate in a “Town Meeting” discussion of how WiVLA should spend $1000 to benefit young women – both artists and writers – in  in our community to encourage their creative development.

A brief history: For many years WiVLA has given two Gold Key Awards through the Scholastic Achievement Program administered locally by the Harris County Board of Education. The awards were given to senior high school women – $500 to an artist and $500 to a writer for their senior portfolios.  These young women then were invited to WiVLA’s May meeting to showcase their work.

This past January the WiVLA board during their annual retreat discussed our Gold Key participation.  Board members had several concerns. Because our awards have been based solely on merit, there was discussion around finding students who have need as well as merit.  Several noted that our hope that these women might become involved with WiVLA had never been realized because all of our recipients started college shortly after receiving the award – and not one had ever returned to attend a WiVLA meeting. Additionally, because the award went to only two people, the impact on the community was limited and there was some discussion around giving the award to programs benefiting women rather than individuals. At the end of the discussion it was decided that we would go back to the Harris County Board and ask to have our 2016 awards be based on need and to see if it were possible to give awards to younger students – eighth or ninth grades – who might then become involved with us during their HS years. Unfortunately because of an administrative change at the Board of Education our requests were never addressed and as a result no awards were made this year.

Therefore, the WiVLA Board with the encouragement from the WiVLA Advisory Board has decided to have the WiVLA membership at the January member meeting address how we might best spend $1000(the amount we have always allocated to the Gold Key awards) to reward, encourage and/or support creative young women in our community.  Keep in mind that such an award can be a way to make WiVLA more visible in the community as well as to attract younger women to our organization. The format for this “Town Meeting” will be for each WiVLA member attending to tell the group how she thinks WiVLA could use this money. Ideas will be recorded and at the end of the meeting participants will be “vote” to see which ideas have the most viability. Following the meeting the WiVLA board will take the ideas that the group likes the best and make the final determination on how the money will be spent.

I remind all here that we do not meet in December, but will celebrate together at our WiVLA member/guest party on December 17. Members will receive formal notification of the party via email around December 3.

Have safe and happy holidays and plan to join us on January 17.

Jane Mulholland

"An ekphrastic poem is like a jolt of electricity surging through a work of art."
- Patricia Smith, ARTLines2

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