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BWOT – Building Confidence While Helping the Community

Bellingham Women of Today members put together gift bags. From left, Ann Simpson, Phyllis Russell, Dee Clark, Sue Beattie and Julie Hutchinson.

By Marjorie Turner Hollman
Bellingham’s chapter of Women of Today (WOT), a national organization, has been working in town as a non-profit since 1985 to promote community service, provide personal growth opportunities, and offer leadership training for women eighteen and older. Long-time members of Bellingham Women of Today (BWOT) Sue Beattie, Dee Clark and Melonie Mancini met recently to talk about how BWOT has made a difference in their lives, both in bringing them out of their shells socially and pointing them in more confident directions personally. 
Many of us are familiar with their annual events such as Breakfast with Santa, Santa’s Elves project for families in need, and Muffins with the Easter Bunny. Other less visible programs, yet greatly valued by those who have benefitted in our local community include Easter Baskets for seniors, in partnership with Meals on Wheels, an annual scholarship for high school seniors, and other more personal efforts with impact on individuals. 

                                BWOT member Melonie Mancin, with Buckets of sunshine

Beattie said, “I used to sit in a corner. My sister-in-law was a member and was having such fun. It took me a few years to decide I wanted to be more active, and now I have a national position with the organization.”
Clark offered examples of the way the group supports members who might be uncomfortable speaking in public. “These small challenges to speak up and get positive feedback carry over into our personal lives. I found it helpful in boosting self-esteem and simply helping me become more comfortable working with others.”
Mancini listed some personal development opportunities available both at the monthly meetings and when helping out in their local service projects.  She described impromptu speaking opportunities the meetings offer. “These can be simple topics or even just talking about what the member is working on,” she said. 
Clark noted the she was one of those members who took a while in deciding to become more active in the group. She said, “I was one of those ‘back and forth’ members. But members make it easy to participate. We offer to pick someone up, we reach out, we help others. It’s a good feeling to volunteer and make a difference.” 
Mancini explained why she joined the group. “I was new in town and wanted to make friends. I found that once you participate in a project, it’s fun.” She continued, “I’ve made a lot of connections in the community, friends, and I wanted to offer an example for my kids about the value of volunteering.”
The women spoke at length about how being part of the group has made a difference both in their personal lives and the lives of others they have worked with. There is not room in this article to list all the ways these women have benefitted both themselves and others. 
Visitors are welcome to see what the group is about and learn how the group helps others, while benefiting each member. Bellingham Women of Today meets second Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Police Station conference room on Blackstone Street. They pointed out that the parking is well-lit, and handicapped accessible. Members use the time to review upcoming events, work on service projects together, and offer opportunities for personal development in a safe space. For more information, contact Dee Clark at [email protected] or (508) 966-4268
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