A Haymarket women’s club has adopted a project to improve the health, lives and opportunities of women and children in Northern Virginia and Latin America.
The recently formed Dominion Woman’s Club has joined with INMED Partnerships for Children, through which the local organization has budgeted $2,000 for next year along with volunteers to support INMED’s Community-based projects. INMED is an international non-profit development organization in Sterling.
“We are extremely excited about working with INMED,” said club president Nanette McKeel Petrella. “Our organization encourages women to improve their skills, expand their rights and apply their abilities and special sensitivity to the problems of our community, our nation and our world.
“As our International Affairs committee began its search for an organization with which to partner, we wanted to find one whose focus was on helping children and empowering women.”
Petrella said she and other club members met with INMED officials and “we were very impressed with their objectives to support the development of healthy, educated children who have increased opportunities for the future. The non-profit group was also rated as one of the best for sound fiscal management.”
The club’s first venture with INMED will be its “Garden Brazil” project, which aims to improve the health and nutritional status of more than 40,000 poor children across Brazil. Through this innovative initiative, schools cultivate vegetable gardens and use the harvests to improve the nutritional quality of school lunches – which for many students may be their only meal of the day.
The Garden Brazil project also creates long-lasting impact through health and nutrition education for children, parents and cafeteria workers, development of clean water systems, and gardening training and starter kits for mothers to develop their own home gardens.
“Improving nutrition has such a profound impact on these vulnerable children,” said INMED President Linda Pfeiffer. “Children who are hungry cannot concentrate on their schoolwork, but more importantly, poor nutrition in childhood can compromise their ability to learn and succeed over their lifetimes.”
“Still, as important as it is, nutritious daily meal is not enough – that’s why the Garden Brazil project focuses on the multiplier effect through which our health, nutrition and gardening education is shared with students’ family members, teachers and cafeteria workers in other schools, and with the community as a whole through civic engagement and volunteer service,” said Pfeiffer.
This type of community-wide impact is what the local club wants to achieve through its sponsorship of INMED’s programs.
“We were searching for an organization that had a strong record of stewardship and fiscal responsibility and was focused on results,” Petrella said. “We felt it was important for our membership to see specifically how we were making a difference with the resources we could provide.”
In addition to their work together on the Garden Brazil project, IMED and the club membership also plan to collaborate on women and children’s health initiatives in Peru and in Northern Virginia.
“By working together not only internationally but in our backyard, INMED and Dominion Woman’s Club are building an exciting new model of partnership between nonprofits and service organizations,'” Pfeiffer said. “We’ll be able to leverage our respective skills to create a greater impact on the lives of the women, children, families and communities we serve that either of our organizations could achieve on our own.”
Since 1986, INMED has worked in more than 100 countries to give children the healthiest possible start in life.
Dominion Woman’s Club was chartered in April with 35 members. It has grown to more than 50. It meets the third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. and future meetings will take place at Kirkpatrick’s Restaurants in
Market Square, Haymarket. It is a member of the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs. Most of the members come from western Prince William County and Fauquier County, ranging in age from 30 to 60.
A charity casino night on April 19 at Dominion Valley Country Club will raise funds for the club’s projects, which include supporting ACTS/ Turning Points in the county.
Petrella, a six-year resident of Haymarket, was instrumental in forming the club.
“I grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania and I always admired the community work of the women there. I was looking for a way to work and meet with other women in the area, and came up with the idea of forming the club,” she said. “The members have been very enthusiastic about our mission to improve the community through our volunteer service.”