About AAUW

What is AAUW? The American Association of University Women has sought to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research since its inception in 1882.  One organizer was the first woman admitted to MIT and another was the first to major in Chemistry in the United States.   Four years after the founding of AAUW the organization published research refuting the prevalent medical opinion of the day that higher education was deleterious to the health of women. When Congress voted to support Madame Curie’s research with a $50,000 award, AAUW members raised over $156,000. The second largest organization for women in the USA,  AAUW is the source of more funding for women’s post graduate education than any organization in the world.

The AAUW branch of Fort Myers/Lee County, an affiliate of the national AAUW,  has been meeting continuously since 1961.  Our branch includes members from all parts of Lee County including Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Sanibel, and Pine Island. We welcome new members with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees from accredited academic institutions and offer a special membership, Friends, to those who have not earned a degree and support the mission and purpose of AAUW.  Many of our members work with other AAUW women at the state and national levels.

Membership in our branch affords us an opportunity to network with community leaders and women of varied backgrounds. Nine monthly meetings are held annually and feature educational programs addressing issues of interest to the members (see MEETINGS).  In order to raise funds for our scholarship account, members support several fundraisers (see SPECIAL EVENTS).

The AAUW Fort Myers/Lee County (FL) Branch, Inc. has been making a difference in our community for 50 years. Since the 1960’s donations have been made for college textbooks or for gas and baby-sitting fees for single mothers going back to school. Since 2000 we have established Endowed Scholarships at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), Edison State College and the AAUW/Sue Gottcent Scholarship through the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  Our fundraising efforts in 2011-12 enabled us to raise the endowments at FGCU and Edison to $20,000 and to award over $12,000 in scholarships to local women seeking higher education in local colleges. Generous donations were also made to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, The Edison-Kiwanis Science Fair, and the National Association of Women in Construction’s program at Tice Elementary School for their “Building Blocks” program.

Local Woman to Attend United Nations Commission on Status of Women Meetings in New York City

Roberta Ostler BalmerRoberta Ostler Balmer, Fort Myers resident and member of American Association of University Women (AAUW), will be part of the 14 person delegation of the Canadian Federation of University Women  (CFUW) to the United National Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City taking place from March 10 to 21, 2014. The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The discussion at this year’s session will primarily focus on the challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for women and girls.

The eight MDGs, established in 2000, were the first time-bound, quantifiable global development goals agreed to by nearly all countries. The goals range from reducing extreme poverty by half, to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, ensuring primary education for girls and boys, and establishing a global partnership for development. As the 2015 deadline for meeting the MDGs approaches, the international community is reflecting on the progress made so far, and starting to develop the next steps, often referred to as the post 2015 development agenda. This year’s CSW will be an important part of that process.

Roberta is a member of AAUW Fort Myers/Lee County and we are delighted that she is part of the CFUW national delegation”, said Marie Glasgow, AAUW President. “This is a wonderful opportunity to meet women from around the world, discuss matters of common concern, and bring back information and new perspectives on women and girls issues to our Branch and community.”

As a Non-Government Organization with Consultative Status with the United Nations, the CFUW delegation will be actively participating in the discussions at CSW. It is the hope of CFUW that States will reach an agreement on  how developed and developing countries can work together to accelerate progress in meeting the MDGs for women and girls, and ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment remain central to the post 2015 development agenda as both a standalone goal and a cross cutting theme.

For more information contact AAUW Fort Myers/Lee County Branch at aauwleecounty@gmail.com.

2012-13 In Review

As in every organization, many hands make the work lighter and more importantly, make great ideas and plans a reality. We applaud our AAUW honorees of 2012-13.

Betty Bechtel, mailing of the Torch for seven years; Dorothy Houck, served as Membership VP for three years and member of the Adopt-A-Precinct Team; Sondra Marshall, meeting Reservations Chair for three years and fashion show model; and Peggy Thomas, the make-up director for our fashion shows for nearly ten years.

Our 19th annual Holiday Fashion Show fundraiser broke records for attendance and net income. Co-Chairs Melanie Jackman and Judith Sims were a really great team; their experience in soliciting donations and event planning really paid off. Nadia Nieves, our 2012 high school scholarship winner added to our enjoyment of the latest in fashions. Phyllis Wayco and Jemetta Hunt worked the room selling only lucky tickets for the Money Hat. After bringing in record income, they became the popular choice to co-chair the 2013 FS.

Review8Shannon Wright & Candace Huetteman, new branch members, had so much fun modeling that they volunteered to co-ordinate the Spring Tea. Their love of fascinators added to the enjoyment of tea, sandwiches and pastries at the Butterfly Conservatory.

Our wonderful year ended with a May Garden Party hosted by Judith Sims.  Members and guests enjoyed excerpts from Judith Voirst performed by Maggie Mullens, Rusty Brown, and Thora Free. This member-ship event resulted in additional new members for 2013.

Charitable Work in Our Community

During 2013-14, our Fort Myers/Lee County Branch raised $13,821. This awesome amount was realized through many hours of work by our members. We raised funds while having fun: Annual Fashion Show and the Spring Tea. We (15 dedicated members and spouses) raised funds by facilitating national and state elections through Adopt A Precinct. A very special thanks to Pat Allen, Tina Hoegler, Myrna Frantz, Carolyn Kokalis, Nancy Kuyoth, Bonnie Lincoln, Carol Munsell, Carolyn and Steve Nance, Faye and Sam O’Briant, Ellen Schneider, Judith Sims, Shelley Siriano, Gwen Spuhler, Colleen Wheeler, and Marilyn Workman.

Review13We raised funds at our monthly meetings through generous donations of our membership for Harry Chapin and Tech Trek. Pictured are Marie Glasgow and Mimi Manpel delivering a $550 donation to Al Brislain, Pres/CEO Harry Chapin Food Bank.

We gave back to our Community 93% of the funds we raised.