Leading by example: Volunteer makes …

Leading by example: Volunteer makes a difference
Recommend Be the first of your friends to recommend this. Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 1:00 am | Updated: By Lois Sz ymanski, Ne ighborhoods corre sponde nt |

5:15 pm, Thu Sep 2, 2010.

As first vice president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, Westminster resident Barbara (Babs) Condon acts as liaison between the 50 state federations and the international organization, assisting in coordinating efforts at the state, national and international levels. GFWC is one of the world's oldest and largest women's volunteer service organizations. "I felt extremely blessed in my life and wanted to give something back to my community," Condon said of her involvement with GFWC. "I decided to follow in the footsteps of my mom [Barbara C. Peck] by joining the GFWC Junior Woman's Club of Westminster," she said. "Not only did I gain the ability to make a difference in many lives of fellow Carroll County citizens, but also found a whole new group of women friends." Condon is a third-generation member of the federation, although she didn't know that until after she had joined. "My sisters and I grew up with a mom who was an active volunteer until she decided to go back to college to obtain her master's degree and become the media specialist for Westminster High School," she said. "Unfortunately, I never knew of my grandmother's involvement until after I had joined the federation, only learning then that she had been president of her local club, the GFWC Amherst, Massachusetts, Woman's Club." During her time with affiliated women's clubs, Condon has worked locally on the Chili Cook-off, the annual Kids Consignment Sale and the Santa workshops at St. Paul's United Church of Christ. She has also helped with Dr. Seuss Day at local elementary schools, as well as multiple other activities and fundraisers. Condon said she remembers her mom's involvement in the Neighborhood Watch program, "which the Woman's Club of Westminster was very instrumental in getting started," she said. Another of her memories is of a multitude of pink signs for a doll show they used to hold to raise funds for scholarships. Condon joined the GFWC Junior Woman's Club of Westminster in 1983 after a teaching career followed by time to raise two sons. She's served as the GFWC Maryland director of junior clubs, president of the GFWC Woman's Club of Westminster, GFWC Maryland state president, GFWC treasurer on the international level, GFWC recording secretary and GFWC second vice president. She has worked on countless committees, too. "My responsibilities [now] include guiding the 50 state presidents as they serve their memberships," she said of being GFWC first vice president for the 2010-2012 administration. GFWC International President Carlene Garner said, "Babs is an exemplary service leader. Her record of community service and international perspective provide unique and valuable experience to assist our efforts to lead this organization in its third century of work." Condon's work with the federation has taken her to faraway places. During the 1994-1996 administration, she was appointed to serve as chairwoman for the GFWC Outreach for Children program, where she shared information and ideas for club projects. "GFWC has partnered with Operation Smile since the early 1980s," she said. "I applied for and was chosen to go on a mission to the Philippines to see exactly what this organization does, so that I could share this information with our members." Her position on the team was to help keep the medical records of each child and young adult who applied for an operation to repair a cleft palate or cleft lip, she said. "As the daughter of a veterinarian [Dr. Arthur H. Peck], I had helped with a few surgeries in emergency situations. I found it fascinating to watch the surgeries by the many gifted physicians and plastic surgeons who volunteer their time and talents for Operation Smile."



9/6/2010 Leading by example: Volunteer makes … Condon also took trips to Guatemala and Peru with CARE, coming back to share information with the club. "We learned about CARE's girls' education program and their lending program for the women in the very most rural villages." She said the trips were educational - "especially in seeing first-hand just how lucky we are in the USA."
Condon said she is most proud of starting the GFWC STARS Juniorette Club of Westminster in 1994 to mentor young women. "There have been over 100 young women who have been members of this club over the last 16 years," she said, "for whom I hope I have served as a good role model on the impact volunteering can make in someone's life who is less fortunate." Condon's favorite fund raiser is the annual Chili Cook-off, benefitting Access Carroll. This year's fifth annual Chili Cook-off will take place Oct. 17 in the Shipley Arena at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, she said. "Cooks from all walks of life compete to not only win the popular vote of all attendees, but to win over the judges' panel made up of area chefs. What could be better than to gather together with family and friends to sample some of the best and hottest chili around on a cool crisp autumn day?" Condon encourages women to join GFWC. "There are many benefits of belonging to an organization with a proud 120-year history," she said. "[We give] members a way to express and explore their unique interests and talents. We have a built-in network with other GFWC members all over the world, gaining from their experiences and talents. We can learn valuable leadership skills which can enhance our professional careers." She added, "Mostly, joining a GFWC club gives you the opportunity to give back to your community while building lifelong friendships." General Federation of Women’s Clubs Three GFWC clubs have meetings in Westminster: The GFWC Woman’s Club of Westminster meets at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Carroll Nonprofit Center, 255 Clifton Blvd., Westminster. According to Babs Condon, first vice president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, women of all ages are welcome to join this club. The age range of members is typically about 40 to 90. The GFWC Junior Woman’s Club of Westminster meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Carroll Nonprofit Center. Condon said this club is also open to women of all ages. The age range of members is typically about 20 to 60. The GFWC STARS Juniorette Club of Westminster meets one Sunday afternoon a month in members’ homes. The club is made up of middle school and high school-age girls, from ages 11 to 18. These GFWC clubs welcome new members. For more information, call 410-848-4171 or e-mail bcondon@gfwc.org.

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