CWA branch joins tourism campaign
The Woy Woy branch of the Country Women's Association has become part of the Central Coast Council's tourism campaign, This is the Central Coast, to promote the Peninsula.
"When we were approached by Central Coast Council a few months ago to tell our story, how could we say no?" asked branch president, Ms Jane Bowtell.
"We love a chat and were very happy to have an opportunity to share our stories, both from the past and present," Ms Bowtell said.
She and other members of the branch have shared the branch's rich history in their own feature.
The branch was founded in 1932 by the matron of the Staples family and served the community for years as a baby health centre upon the founding of the Woy Woy Country Women's Association Hall.
When Ms Bowtell rang the branch and asked to sit in on a meeting, she had recently returned from a stint in the Middle East where her husband had been working.
She found herself at a stage of life where she wanted to be involved in her community, to make a difference.
Ms Bowtell found an organisation that had previously made such a contribution to locals' lives but was currently struggling to remain active and to maintain relevance.
After 80 years, she found the branch was a shadow of its former glory, with only a handful of members remaining and their role in the community markedly decreased.
She could see so much potential but the aims of Mrs Staples and those original women were definitely waning.
"I felt so much respect for the history of the Woy Woy branch, the work they had done in the community and the vision of its members.
"I really felt that it was such a shame to see it fading away when there was still so much potential," Ms Bowtell said.
Two and a half years later Ms Bowtell is the branch's president.
"We currently have around 35 active members and I'm so proud to be with them.
"We don't all knit or bake. We are apolitical and non-religious.
"We have a range of ages and abilities within our group and we pride ourselves on being inclusive not exclusive," Ms Bowtell said.
"Basically, if you want to be involved we'd love to have you.
"It's great to see interest in the branch increasing and there is so much scope for what we can achieve."
The contribution to the Peninsula community made by the Woy Woy branch continues to grow.
The branch supports Coast Shelter, Mary Mac's Place, Australian Seabird Rescue, local schools, hospitals and other not-for-profits.
The branch donates both money raised and handmade items to be sold, raffled or used.
Including those famous scones.
One of their most popular has been crocheted sleeping mats, made from used plastic shopping bags and donated to Coast Shelter for distribution to those sleeping rough on the Coast.
More recently the branch has been looking for ways to utilise their hall and its grounds.
They recently hosted BreastScreen within their grounds which saw a huge increase in both visibility and response.
The Measure Up van was next, offering bone density tests, free to those over 70.
"Hosting these organisations not only makes vital health services available to locals in a convenient spot, it also raises funds that the branch can then use to support our community. "Plus, if you are lucky, there might be a lovely cup of tea and slice of homemade cake available after your test," Ms Bowtell said.
"The secret of the CWA's success has always been the theory of many doing a little.
"Individuals can have a huge impact when they work together.
"The CWA is also about forming friendships and it is the perfect conduit to bring different generations of women together to contribute to their community," Ms Bowtell said.
Website, 12 Dec 2018
Central Coast Council
Social media, 12 Dec 2018
Jane Bowtell, Woy Woy CWA branch