Dear GFWC Georgia Federated Sisters,
As the outbreak of COVID-19 has been developing worldwide, I have been monitoring daily recommendations primarily from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our convention is over a month away and many precautions to stop the spread of the virus have been put into place, including closures of schools and colleges, government workers working from home, and cancellation of attendees at large gatherings. While there are 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our state as of this date and time, several entities are closing to help the statewide effort to slow down the spread of this virus at the recommendation of Governor Brian Kemp.
Julie Walters, convention and meeting planner for GFWC Georgia, and I have been in contact this week with Unicoi State Lodge where the April 17-19 124th annual convention will be held. We are carefully considering our options as the health and safety of our membership is top priority. They were able to provide us with some good news as we traverse this unknown path. They will not charge GFWC Georgia if we do NOT meet our food/beverage and room minimum. This means if 25 of us attend we will not be charged for those who could not attend. Unfortunately, this would not meet our necessary quorum requirement of 85. We cannot cancel the event per our contract, although we are investigating act of God/nature (the virus) as a potential reason for not being able to be at the venue. We are also carefully monitoring if Governor Kemp closes state parks. Unicoi State Lodge did offer to allow us to host at a different date but all of their May dates are currently unavailable. If those dates become available, we will be alerted.
With this being said, as of today and note this could change based on what happens on a daily or even an hourly basis in our state, our plans are to move forward with our state annual convention on April 17-19, 2020 at Unicoi Lodge. As president, I urge you to carefully consider your health and the health of others as you register or as you decide you cannot attend if you have already registered. Many of our club sisters are of the age that has been impacted the hardest and some have chronic and ongoing health issues. We will also work toward streaming or having Facebook Live feeds for those who are unable to attend due to health reasons.
We currently have 98 members registered. A brief one question survey will be sent to those who have already registered in addition to this email. We have developed a refund procedure for those who feel it is not in the best interest for health reasons to attend. It is as follows:
1. To cancel your reserved lodge room, you must call Unicoi Lodge at 1-800-573-9659 and cancel your reservation prior to April 1.
2. To cancel your Georgia Convention Registration you must email Convention Chairman Julie Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org
BEFORE April 1, 2020
and inform her you wish to cancel your online registration and you are requesting a refund. A refund will be given to you minus the Constant Contact processing fee. Please indicate what your refund is for (registration, meals, etc.) and if you wish to collect the other items ordered at a later date. Please include all of your contact information including a mailing address.
3. You will be mailed a check from Treasurer Armenda Barnes when Julie sends her the request.
Please know our moving forward may change if things become dire in our state. I certainly hope and prayer it does not and all of the precautions being taken at this point help alleviate the spread of the virus. I want everyone to be aware this is not an issue I take lightly nor something being ignored. I have communicated with district presidents and each district needs to make their own decision on moving forward in March with their plans after consideration of all of the information from the CDC. Most of what I am hearing is to follow the CDC advice and not the hype of the media. I also feel it is important to follow Governor Kemp's recommendations for the next 14 days. My school system is closed for two weeks to help eliminate the spread of germs. I have also heard medical doctors state to curtail flights lasting more than five hours but traveling to North Carolina would be acceptable, although this was this morning and this advice could have changed in 12 hours.
I hope we will be able to be together in April to celebrate the many accomplishments of our clubs and club women, as well as conduct the important business of our organization. It may look different and I am brainstorming with President Elect Shelby Holland and 2nd Vice President Kim Sekulow, as well as Julie Walters, of ways to be able to convene at some point before the international convention in June. I will keep you posted – watch for Facebook updates or email updates. A definitive answer will be made on April 1, as we all watch the development and preventative actions taken by our government. My prayers are with you and your families as we learn more about this virus and how it will affect our nation. Remember, stay calm and wash your hands!
With much love and kindness,
GFWC Georgia State President 2018-2020