The Intangible Benefit of Joining Our Sisterhood
By Barb Ellerbrook, NFRW Membership Chair
When President Ann Schockett asked me to chair the NFRW Membership Committee upon her election as our NFRW President, I was both honored and afraid. Honored that Ann thought enough of me to ask me to be a part of her administration and afraid that I could not meet her expectations for me. You see membership is the “core” of the NFRW. We talk about the numbers and how much it means to add to those numbers – and I’m grateful to my Vice-Chair, Janet Kushlan for her willingness to study the numbers and be the statistician for our Committee, but membership is so much more.
I’ve always struggled with, “why am I a member of this organization?” I have been a member since the early ‘90’s and worked my way through and up the ladder into leadership roles within my local, state and now the national organizations. I’ve attended meetings at the national starting with my first convention in Kansas City, then of course our very successful NFRW convention hosted by Kentucky under the leadership of my good friend Carol Rogers. By then, I was “hooked.” I wanted to be a larger part of this organization. I joined National Committees and became a part of the policy making arm of the NFRW.
Now, as appointed National Membership chair, I find myself talking to local clubs, State Federations, and even sometimes to women attending our national meetings who ask me, “…what am I getting from NFRW for my $20.00 membership fee?”
I can list the tangible advantages of membership – the ones outlined on the NFRW website from the benefits of our educational programming, mentoring and training, our advocate and activist opportunities during campaigns and lobbying and so on, our unsurpassed support on the local, state and national levels, to the ones where you get “trophies” and “certificates” for being a part of this wonderful organization; and in addition you support and helped elect a once-in-a-lifetime President like President Donald J. Trump; maybe you get a personal private tour of the Whitehouse with a friend who works there – JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE A MEMBER OF THE NFRW.
But then, life catches up with us and the intangibles start to surface. This past October my husband of 38 years passed away, ironically, while we were on vacation to a special place that we traveled to for many years. I was stunned with his death - it was unexpected and terrifying to me at the same time.
I tell you this, because one of the very first calls made, very early in the morning, was to a long-time friend that I came to know from my “membership” in the “Sisterhood” as President Ann calls us. My friend immediately called me back and then started contacting people back home for me.
As I moved through the next days and weeks, the number of cards, emails, texts, phone calls started pouring in. What I didn’t really understand until after the funeral and days following was that a significant number of my “friends” were from my local Fayette County Republican Women’s Club, my KY Federation, and all of the women from across the country who reached out to me during this terrifying time in my life. These are the friends made throughout the years that will be there for me because I chose to join a Republican Women’s Club many, many years ago .
So, what does it mean – for a $20.00 membership fee? An intangible that simply cannot be explained and is worth so much more than $20.00. These are friendships - that will not disappear – they are forever friends.
So, State Presidents, local club Presidents, State Membership Officers, local club Membership Officers, when you are asked about what you “…get… for your $20.00, tell them you get a membership in one of the strongest “Sisterhoods,” around. And when you become a member you have tens of thousands of “Sisters” who believe in what you believe in and will be there for you when you, your club, your state or your National President accepts an invitation to the White House from a Republican – Conservative President. What a wonderful acknowledgement to know that Republican women have and will continue to be a strong force in this country. I tell you - the friendships and these are true friendships - are worth millions to me and for $20.00, I promise you too will find these women who will be there for you when you need them.