The coronavirus has upended life as we know it for employers, schools, medical personnel and everyone else on the planet.

Also among those affected are social and service organizations. But one such group in Wood County has refused to become dormant in the midst of a pandemic that extends its relentless reach, month after month.

University Women of Bowling Green State University has continued nearly all of its traditions and community services in 2020, just like every year before it.

True, members have had to forego their usual festive December holiday gathering at the home of Barbara and Roger Sanchez. The party normally doubles as a fundraiser for three needy local families. This year, members made donations by mail and the number of families to be served was increased to five in light of the unprecedented need. Anne Bullerjahn reports members have far exceeded the $2,000 goal to purchase groceries, useful gifts and children’s Christmas presents for those families.

At the start of the 2020-21 year, in late August, UW’s membership drive was also a success. Despite the fact that activities such as the usual Fall Membership Brunch were being curtailed, moved from in-person to Zoom, or canceled altogether, nearly every one of the organization’s 172 members sent in their dues and four new people even joined.

Another mail campaign at that time raised $4,700 for UW’s scholarship fund, allowing the group to look ahead and plan to present three scholarships to nontraditional female students at BGSU again next year. In the past, only two scholarships were given. The 2020-21 scholarship winners were also named.

They are:

* Rachel Price, a junior living in Bowling Green who majors in business and marketing. She has a strong interest in discovering what drives consumer choice, and hopes to earn a Master of Business Administration.

* Kaitlin Plate, a senior from Toledo, is majoring in biology and specializing in marine biology. She is a volunteer feed show diver and tender at the Toledo Zoo and had a summer internship doing mosquito surveillance with the Toledo Area Sanitary District. She is also a yoga instructor. Plate plans to pursue a graduate degree in restoration biology.

* Jessica Saxton, a senior statistics major from Toledo, plans to go on for a master’s degree in data analytics, with the goal of teaching high school or college-level math. She has two jobs at BGSU, as a student assistant in the Math Emporium and at the BGSU Book Depository.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for UW — certainly the area where creativity has played the biggest part — is the way the most of the organization’s popular special interest sub-groups have continued to meet on a monthly basis despite the pandemic.

The Lunch Bunch, with more than a dozen members, couldn’t safely eat together in area restaurants. Instead, they gathered at City Park with masks and social distancing even as late as November.

Art museum, choral and Gourmet Travelers groups are on hiatus. But book, movie, antiques and other discussion groups moved from members’ houses to a Zoom format, following volunteer Zoom teaching sessions conducted by member Denise Robins in her back yard.

UW has even added a new interest group this fall, the Genealogy Group. It is led by Julie Every, and new members are still welcome.

President Jane Schimpf and members of the Board of Directors hold meetings online with the goal of remaining nimble in guiding the inevitable shift back to live events sometime in 2021. Area women may join UW at any time. To learn more or print out a membership form, visit the website: universitywomenofbgsu.com

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