PORT ANGELES — International Women’s Day is a time to think about solidarity, Sheila Martin believes.
Marked this Monday, it will be the first in many years without a celebration at Olympic Cellars Winery in Port Angeles. Yet she and the Womanfest board of directors are no less aware of their connections to women around the planet.
“It has been such a tough year for so many people. The board has missed getting together for shared food and hugs,” Martin said, noting that the Womanfest fall retreat at Lake Crescent’s Camp David Junior had to be put on hold in 2020 along with the 2021 International Women’s Day fundraiser at the winery.
Last year’s event, the 16th annual, was held March 5, 2020, days before such gatherings ended. Local women and men came for soup, bread, beverages and donations to two nonprofit organizations: Healthy Families of Clallam County and the International Rescue Committee, which focuses on humanitarian work worldwide for women and children. Each received $1,200 from Womanfest’s fundraising efforts.
The board — whose longtime members include Martin, Sandy Ulf, Barbara Wise, Karen Hanan, and Laura Lilly of Port Angeles and Apa Sunriver of Sequim — is encouraging people to observe International Women’s Day at home by lighting a candle, having a bowl of warm soup and perhaps making a donation.
Contributions — to be shared again with Healthy Families and the International Rescue Committee — may be sent to Womanfest, 403 S. Lincoln St., Suite 4, PMB 79 Port Angeles, WA 98362.
“People have been so generous the last few years,” said Ulf, “and we usually bump it up. It’s pretty darn amazing.”
From the fall retreats held prior to 2020, the board had a healthy balance in its checking account. After the pandemic’s arrival, donations were sent to local charities and scholarships awarded to three local students.
In May, Womanfest gave $500 each to the Port Angeles and Sequim food banks; in August, another $500 donation went to the Port Angeles Food Bank, to Planned Parenthood and to Healthy Families’ fund for domestic violence survivors. Also last summer, the Womanfest board presented a $750 scholarship to Amanda Campbell, a nursing student who is graduating in 2021.
Donations kept flowing in November: $750 to the United Way for the Get it Done Fund for students at Peninsula College and another $750 to the Port Angeles Food Bank. Just before the end of the year, Womanfest funded two more $750 scholarships for Hannah Edstrom and MacKenzie Maxwell, who are training to become teachers.
That has depleted the bank account, but not the women’s enthusiasm.
“I think it is an enormous privilege to have supported so many organizations, both local and international,” Martin said, adding she continues to marvel at the power of women joining hands and working toward common goals.
“We want to promote options and hope,” she said, this year as in previous years.
Martin and Ulf, for their part, are hopeful about having the Womanfest fall retreat at Lake Crescent this Sept. 17, 18 and 19. To join the mailing list, email [email protected]
“We will be limiting registrations, requiring social distancing, masks and vaccinations,” Ulf noted.
Registration will open this summer.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]