Visiting the Old Dominion Commonwealth

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
April 15, 2015

After the California conference, I spent a few very busy days in the office before driving to Norfolk, VA with Sandy Pollack, the NSDAR Development Director, on March 19th for the 119th Virginia State Conference.  Ginnie Sebastian Storage, State Regent, selected a conference theme of “Good Women – May We Know Them, May We Be Them, May We Raise Them.”  Amen! 

The Virginia Society is thriving with over 9400 members in 130 chapters.  Over 600 attended the conference, including more than 60 Pages.  Ginnie gave each Page a pink T-shirt with the slogan “Keep Calm and Page On”.   

Sandy and I had time to change before the President General’s Tea in which I welcomed over 200 generous Virginia Daughters.  We have so many exiting projects in the works and I enjoyed sharing some of the progressive initiatives.  Most importantly, I appreciated the opportunity to thank them for generously sharing their time and resources with the National Society.

Ginnie hosted the conference guests and Honorary State Regents to a private dinner in the hotel before the evening’s entertainment.  Continuing the theme of “Good Women”  story teller Lynn Ruehlmann told us about three remarkable women: Dorothea Lange, a photographer during the Great Depression, Bette Nesmith Graham, inventor of White Out, and Fannie Farmer, chef and cookbook author.

Later that evening, a reception was held in Ginnie’s suite for the generous supporters of her State Regent’s project. Her historically significant project is to underwrite a room at Ferry Farm, site of George Washington’s boyhood home, in the replica 1740 house which will be reconstructed this year on the same site where the family home stood.  The pink dogwood is Ginnie’s project emblem and chapters have planted 104 pink dogwood trees throughout the state.  

A variety of educational workshops were held on Friday with something of interest to everyone.  Topics included Virginia Heritage, Hunter House Victorian Mansion, Discover Norfolk, Book Club, Herb Gardening in Colonial Williamsburg and Genealogical Insights, presented by Darryn Lickliter, Director of the Office of the Registrar General and Head Genealogist.   

The conference guests enjoyed attending the State Officers Club Luncheon, Emily Richardson, President.  Emily has served as a DAR Museum Docent for many years.

The Memorial Service was held Friday afternoon.  As members and guests were being seated, all enjoyed viewing the Memorial Video Tribute which featured photographs of the deceased members.  It was a lovely, personal touch.  The music provided by the State Chorus, pianist and trumpet player added greatly to the service of remembrance.

The Banquet was held Friday night at which I had the privilege of sharing the preservation efforts and technological advancements at Headquarters.  Ginnie presented a very generous check to the President General’s Project, a Virginia charm for my bracelet, and a stunning necklace.

The Founders Medal was presented to Thomas D. McGlothlin for his generous awards for teaching excellence.  The DAR Service to Veterans Award was given to an amazing Vietnam Veteran, Stephen Bozeman.  Holly Lynne McKinley Schmidt, Senior State President, C.A.R., was named Outstanding Junior and I had the pleasure of announcing that she is one of eight National Finalists. 

Eighteen lovely members of the Children of the American Revolution were presented as Debutantes. What a great way to recognize them and encourage their active participation in the DAR. Ginnie’s daughter, Mackie, currently serves as State President, C.A.R. and we all look forward to the day when she can join the DAR.

A receiving line and reception were held at the conclusion and I could not resist photographing the beautiful cakes, one with my emblem and one with Ginnie’s. So many of the Virginia Daughters give generously of their time at our Headquarters and it was a delight to greet them.  I was tickled to finally meet Sharon Russell from the Peaks of Otter Chapter, who had helped Cindy Weatherby of Florida surprise me with a supplemental application for a Virginia patriot.

Saturday morning started with the Junior breakfast at which awards were presented to the chapter and the individual with outstanding support of Junior members. The speaker was Juliet Disparte, an education ambassador for Bright Pink, who shared her experience about her diagnosis with breast cancer at a very young age.  She advised us that many medical professionals are recommending those with a strong family history of breast cancer should begin mammograms 10 years before the age at which the family member was diagnosed. 

The business session convened Friday morning with over 600 members and guests including 60 Pages. State Officers and Chairs reported and I learned that 3,000 students participated in the American History Essay Contest and more than 750 deaccessioned Library books were sold to raise funds to digitize and preserve Revolutionary War records.

The Chapter Awards Luncheon was held Saturday and 81 awards were presented.  As members entered the ballroom, the Pages and State Officers greeted them with upbeat music, noisemakers and applause for their accomplishments.  Several chapters wore similar celebratory attire.  I loved the Uncle Sam hats and red, white and blue boas the Willamsburg Chapter wore.  Amazingly, fifty percent of the chapters have achieved 100% participation in the President General’s Project.

The Outstanding American History Teacher was honored and urged us to encourage teachers who do more than teach to the standardized tests.  The DAR Good Citizen Award, the most competitive award we present to youths, was given to an outstanding young man. We were all touched to learn this bright, musically gifted high school senior had not only overcome significant family financial issues and upheaval, but also excelled in school, receiving a full scholarship to the University of Virginia.

I expressed my gratitude and said goodbye to the Virginia Daughters as the afternoon business session reconvened.  As Fay Pahl drove me to the airport, she shared with me that her grandson has severe dyslexia and had benefitted from a summer at Hindman Settlement School.  It’s amazing how far our support of the DAR Schools can reach!

I was disappointed to have missed the rest of the conference, particularly the breakfast honoring members who were Vietnam Veterans Sunday morning.  Donna Sayre, who served in the Navy from 1970-1980 aboard the U.S. Hospital Ship Sanctuary, shared with me that more than 197,500 women answered the call to serve.  Of those, some 7500 actually served in Vietnam with about 6000 of those women being nurses and medical specialists. 

It would have also been very interesting to hear William E. Garner, President and CEO of the George Washington Foundation share the updates on the progress being made at Ferry Farm and at Kenmore, home of George Washington’s sister.  No doubt he was thrilled to receive a check for $70,000 from the generous Virginia Daughters!

The Virginia Society is indeed full of Good Women!

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