Whatever COVID may throw at society in the coming months, a number of the volunteer organizations that have been on pause or have limited themselves to virtual meetings over the past two years, are beginning to get back to in-person meetings.
The Bond Head Women’s Institute is the latest to hold a face-to-face meeting, while following COVID-19 protocols.
A small group gathered at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Bradford to talk about the ongoing challenges, and plan for the future.
“It’s been a sad situation, that we haven’t been able to meet for two years,” said Bond Head Women’s Institute president Leila Lloyd.
She led a discussion that ranged from the future of Women’s Institute, to a request by both the Bond Head W.I. and the BWG Local History Association for space for a small local museum, within the town's planned Community Hub at 177 Church Street.
Members expressed support for the concept, and for continuing the Bond Head Women’s Institute’s connections with both members and the community at large.
“Never let it stop,” said Liz Moore, who joined in on her cell phone, and urged the group to consider, “How can we support those people who may be feeling vulnerable?”
In the end, with uneven access to internet and unfamiliarity with computer technology a barrier to virtual meetings for some members, the decision was made to keep in touch by phone, until everyone is comfortable with meeting in person – and to come up with new fundraisers.
The W.I. is also looking at providing a Christmas treat for the residents at LOFT’s Bradford House, which provides secure housing for seniors at risk of homelessness.
The first Women’s Institute was founded in 1897 in Stoney Creek, Ontario, when Erland and Janet Lee invited Adelaide Hoodless to speak. Hoodless encouraged the formation of a ‘Women’s Institute’ to bring women together and address the isolation that so often faced rural women, cut off from educational and social opportunities.
It would, she said, promote domestic science, and women’s role in ensuring the health of the family and the community, through education and food safety.
The Stoney Creek W.I. was formed in February of that year, with 75 members. By 1900, there were 33 branches of W.I. with 1,600 members, operating under the motto, “For Home and Country.”
The Bond Head W.I. was initially launched in 1902, but lacked momentum. It wasn’t until 1920 that the group coalesced, and became a strong force in rural West Gwillimbury.
Over the decades, the Bond Head Women’s Institute has been involved in the upkeep and equipping of the Bond Head Community Hall; paid a librarian’s salary before libraries were taken over by the County of Simcoe; supported local schools; honoured veterans; sponsored Brownies and Guides; awarded bursaries to graduating students; advocated for improvements in the community; and contributed to a multitude of causes that include Matthews House Hospice.
For more information, contact Leila Lloyd, at firstname.lastname@example.org.