Middlesex United Way events mark 100th anniversary of women's right to vote

MIDDLETOWN — Since March, we have all focused tirelessly on establishing new types of supports in the face of a pandemic. This work has been incredibly important, and took up most of our attention. We are pleased to be able to slowly reintroduce our events and share developments with the community.
In an effort to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, The Middlesex United Way Women’s Initiative is inviting you to two unique virtual events this year. This year marks the 100th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote. This was a major step in women’s rights, but is still imperfect as women of color were not given these rights until years later.
First, the Women’s Initiative, Women in the NAACP Committee, Russell Library, and Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore are sponsoring a reading challenge that encourages girls (and boys) to read “How Women Won the Vote.” Afterward, they can submit a photo or brief essay about what the right to vote means to them. The first 20 participants will receive a $15 gift card to Wesleyan R.J. Julia.
“How Women Won the Vote” is recommended for readers age 8 to 12, but all are welcome. The book can be found at the library, bookstore, as well others around the area. This is a great opportunity to spend time reading with your child, so they can learn more about this momentous change in modern history.
“‘How Women Won The Vote’ inspired me to work hard at everything I do because it pays off. The women in this book worked hard — even when things didn’t go their way,” said Bronagh McKenna, 11, a sixth-grader at Keigwin Middle School.
“When they didn’t get the parade permit, they kept on trying until they got their way. When people attacked them because they didn’t like what they were doing, they kept going until they won. This book inspired me to speak out against the things I don’t believe in or that I don’t believe are right,” Bronagh said.
Our second, more adult-focused event, will be a virtual cocktail fundraiser Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in partnership with Conspiracy, located downtown. A live jazz musician will be in the Zoom group as participants learn how to make two drinks named after members of the suffrage movement.
This is a rare opportunity for people to learn about bar tending and history at the same time.
For $40, participants will receive an ingredients kit and a vintage glass, as well as a Zoom link to the cocktail class, and the Women’s Initiative will receive $5. Conspiracy will also donate a percentage of overall sales to us.
A “mocktail” option will also be available. The event is open to the public, so it’s a great opportunity to learn about women’s history, as well as get to know more about the Women’s Initiative.
The group celebrates the power of women to bring about positive change in our community through philanthropy and service. I am so proud of all of their accomplishments this past year.
The Women’s Initiative provides opportunities for women of all ages and backgrounds to invest their time, talents and treasures to increase women’s awareness of the Middlesex United Way, promote and increase philanthropic giving, increase women’s participation in volunteering, raise awareness of the resources that women bring to the community, and encourage and recognize women’s accomplishments.
It is fitting that on the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage movement local women continue to work toward equality and increased opportunity for women in our community.
The organization accepts grant requests throughout the year to fund programs geared toward women and children throughout Middlesex County. Most grants range from $200 to $1,000. Currently, the Women’s Initiative is meeting virtually on the first Wednesday of each month. All are welcome, and they are actively looking for new members who believe in their mission.
For information or to join the mailing list, contact Christina Heckart at Christina.Heckart@middlesexunitedway.org
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middletown-based Middlesex United Way.