Always sharing and caring

After 68 years, Virginia CWA continues to support our local communities

“Sharing and caring with action” – this is the slogan of one of the state’s oldest not-for-profit groups, the Country Women’s Association.

Once the backbone of rural communities, and consisting mainly of women of the land, the CWA has seen its fair share of ups and downs, with low membership threatening many branches in the past.

But in recent times an influx of youthful enthusiasm and adaption of meeting times and structures to meet the demands of working parents and their families, has seen the group steadily increase its numbers.

In South Australia alone several new branches have been established over the past few years, injecting new blood and ideas into an important aspect of many local communities and giving members the opportunity to help not only those people around them but also nationally and at times, internationally.

The Virginia CWA branch was formed in 1946 at the Virginia Institute and members celebrated its 68th birthday with a luncheon at the Virginia Hotel in April.

The branch is one of eight under the umbrella of the Barossa CWA group, with many of these branches existing for more than seven decades.

CWA meetings are held in the Virginia Institute on the second Wednesday of each month from 10.30am followed by a shared pooled lunch at its conclusion.

At the group’s annual AGM in July, a program for the next 12 months is set and often includes guest speakers, business meetings, games and excursions.

Members also are actively involved in craft activities from time to time, particularly as the quarterly Playford Council citizenship ceremonies approach, with tens of beautiful bookmarks being made for the new citizens.

“The branch has been involved with the city of Playford Council helping out at naturalisation ceremonies since 1998,” life member Raeleen Besnard said.

“Our branch make gifts and hands these out to the people.

“If we are asked to do catering we do – and that helps our friends.”

As well as their own monthly meetings, Virginia CWA branch representatives also attend meetings in the Barossa Group area and at the CWA’s South Australian city headquarters.

“Some of us have been, and still are, very involved in the Royal Adelaide Show,” Raeleen said.

“We help out in the CWA café.”

Prominent local parliamentarian and Member for Taylor, Leesa Vlahos, joined the CWA for its recent birthday lunch and is herself a member.

Mrs Vlahos has helped out at the Royal Adelaide Show CWA café in the past and enjoys spending time with the group and contributing to community projects.

“It’s always good fun spending time with such a caring and active community group,” Mrs Vlahos said.

“I have been a member for four years and just found out I am also the youngest member of the Virginia CWA.”

Branch President Val Quinlan said her branch regularly conducts community projects, including joining the rest of the CWA at the Show.

“The CWA requires about 200 volunteers per day to man the showground café,” Mrs Quinlan said.

“Leesa has been working her way up the roster and has graduated from doing teas and coffees to milkshakes. She’s been doing well.”

In recent years a few new CWA branches have opened in South Australia, with meetings often being held at night – instead of the traditional day-time get-togethers – to allow younger members to attend after work and around family commitments.

“Over the years we have had women from different cultures who were members of our branch and they just loved our branch and just loved the companionship,” Raeleen said.

“Back in 2000, when we had the flood (the nearby Gawler River flooded Virginia) surround our area, the Country Women’s Association branch raised more than $17,000 to help people in their crises.

“Their main expenses were pumping out septics.”

The CWA raises funds and continually donates to local community groups, individuals and organisations.

This year the CWA is combining its efforts to raise money for Riding for the Disabled.

Other activities members participate in include spot repair projects for badly damaged roads, assisting households that need water tanks and improving farm machinery safety.

Anyone interested in joining the Virginia CWA should call Valmai Quinlan on 8520 2722.

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