Sunday, September 18, 2011

Continental Congress - See you there!

Every year, thousands of daughters from around the world travel to 1776 D Street NW in Washington, DC for what I consider to be one of the best weeks of the year – Continental Congress.  It is a week-long celebration of the DAR’s annual accomplishments and positive impact we had upon our communities.  It is held at the DAR complex that takes up an entire city block.  There are workshops, forums, luncheons, and dinners that one may attend to learn more about committees and awards.  Each state regent gives inspiring reports of her state’s highlights of the last year.  Every committee chairman also gives a report, praising members, awarding prizes, and urging daughters to ‘do more’ in the coming days.  It is truly a learning experience that motivates all of us to aspire to do greater good through our chapters.

At our most recent chapter meeting, Continental Congress was discussed.  Having attending this event for the past five years in a row, I urged my chapter members to make plans for 2012.  The more members that attend, the more active our chapter will become.  The DAR reserves rooms at the JW Marriott Hotel, only a few blocks away from the DAR building, for a low DAR rate.  They then open up the rooms to the members on October 23, 2011, at 4:00PM for reservations…and they sell out fast!  Only an hour or so later, and you may be staying at another hotel nearby, away from all the action. 

The JW Marriott is bustling with DAR ladies attending dinners and events.

The DAR owns an entire city block, just a few blocks from the White House.  In fact, if you walk from the hotel to the hall, you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, taking photos along your way.  Inside this historical landmark, is a plethora of unique rooms and hallways.  History is everywhere, on the walls and in every nook.  You should choose to visit the award winning DAR Museum and the 31 Period Rooms, showcasing American furnishings and decorative arts prior to 1830.  Be sure to make a trip to the Americana Room, displaying early American manuscripts and imprints.  Many Daughters spend countless hours in the DAR Library, one of the largest genealogical research centers in the United States.

The DAR Library is a great place to find your lineage. 
I took this photo during Continental Congress two years ago.

The DAR Library houses over 25,000 compiled and published family histories on several floors.

When you aren’t doing research or touring the building, many women find time to shop and learn.  There are many booths set up for our enjoyment to purchase patriotic items, support the President General’s Project, and learn more about the DAR Schools. 

Some of the items for sale are almost irresitable.

The majority of your time will likely be spent attending the official meetings in Constitution Hall.  There is no way to describe the intense patriotic feeling one gets when “Stars and Stripes” is played for opening ceremonies and the hall is full of excitement!!!  I know women who have been attending for decades and it still sends chills through them.  The evening sessions are formal, so the glitz and glamor is quite a sight!   

The historic Constitution Hall was built in 1929.  This photo is during one of the day sessions.

I have made plans already to attend Continental Congress June 25-July 1, 2012.  In fact, I believe that we may have a total of seven women from our chapter attend.  This includes three ‘first-timers’ and three pages.  Can you imagine the motivation our chapter will have upon the return of these leaders?  The possibilities are endless.

So, the time is now to make your decision.  Are you IN or are you OUT?  To really get the fullness of the experience, you need to start making your plans today.  I suggest that you volunteer for something while you are there.  Perhaps you want to serve during the day on the House Committee, helping the ladies outside the main hall find what they need.  Another option is to serve inside the hall in tiers, seating everyone for the events.  During the formal processions, daughters are needed to line the hallways as a corridor hostess, sealing off the processional line.  Make plans to attend the Junior Luncheon, the largest attended meal, or the Overseas Luncheon with their international bazaar.  Don’t forget…if you are under 41 years of age, you can page.  That is another experience in itself that is wonderful!!!!!!!!  You make lifelong friends.  If you are in this age category, ask your regent for more information (and I will see you there...I page, too!) 

If you have any questions whether you should attend or not, feel free to contact me: . 

Everyone should plan to go at least once.  It is an experience that you won’t want to miss and might just change your life and ultimately, the lives of those in your community.

Feel free to share this blog with anyone you may think is interested in attending Continental Congress.  I really hope to see you there!

To look at photos inside DAR Headquarters, visit:

To take a virtual tour of parts of DAR headquarters, visit:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Program Ideas

Our DAR meetings are fun.  Really, they are.  I look forward to them each month.  Everyone who comes seems to laugh and talk and feels that it was worthwhile to give up time at home.  We get between 30-40 at a meeting, depending on the month.  We always have them on Saturdays in order to accommodate the working woman and hold them at a local country club.  We start off with the regular meeting and ritual.  We get almost all of our regular business done, and then we have lunch promptly at noon.  Just when the last of us are served dessert, we often start up again.  Through the clinking of the spoons, we finish our business and then introduce our program.  Having a program that will appeal to all the members is difficult but not impossible.  Over the years, our chapter has had some great ones.  One of the ‘rules’ that we obey is to “keep it short”.  No more than 20 minutes.  We are glad to give up our time for our chapter, but none of us want the day completely spent.  If you follow this rule, all your programs will in some way, interest your membership.

This may be too late for this year for some of you, but here are some of my favorite chapter programs that I have seen over the years:

·         Historical Preservation, “Show and Tell” – ask members to bring in an item they own that has historical significance.  They will stand and present their item and why they brought it.  One woman in our chapter is a mid-wife and she brought her antique ‘birthing chair’!  Another brought a family quilt that had been made generations ago with sewn signatures.  You get a different program every time with some amazing stories.  Everyone loves to show off a piece of their favorite history.

·         Constitution Week – ask a local high school teacher to speak about how the constitution is taught in the school system today.  Perhaps this U.S. History teacher may also be your next nominee for the Outstanding US History Teacher Contest.
·         Women’s Issues – ask a nurse to visit and talk about health care for women such as annual mammograms, healthy eating, staying heart healthy, and exercise.  Or perhaps you could have a stress management meeting with someone leading relaxation techniques.  If you do this one after you eat, watch out – you may have some nappers on your hands.
·         Genealogical DNA Testing – ask a local biochemistry professor to speak about genealogical DNA testing, how it is done, and how reliable it is.
·         History of your Local River – ask a local steamboat captain to speak at your meeting about the history of your local river.
·         Conservation Luncheon – ask a local beekeeper to teach you about bees and how they are important to our agriculture.   The one we had even brought in some sample beehives (empty of course!).
·         Junior Membership – We are celebrating 75 sweet years of the Junior Membership committee.  Why not have a celebration at one of your meetings?  Invite a local bakery to show your group how to decorate cupcakes since Juniors are so “Sweet”.  Start off with just the cupcakes and then have an icing decorating class.  Fund raise during the meeting to support your juniors financially at the next state conference.
·         Junior Membership – Another ‘sweet’ idea…invite a local jeweler to talk about jewelry, which is like the sweet frosting we wear!  Fund raise during the meeting to support your juniors financially at the next state conference.  Perhaps you can auction off a piece of jewelry if you can find someone to donate it.

If you are looking for a program for your chapter, don’t forget to go to the Program Committee page on the Members’ Web Site to see a huge list of great ideas for programs.  You also have a Speakers Staff available, both national and state.  Check your directory. 

I wish you luck on a wonderful year!