By Mary Beth Harrington, CVA

Growing up, I attended an all-girls primary and secondary school (I know, that explains a lot!). I remember one day we had a guest speaker. I remember the teachers were excited, so I thought this person must be especially important. I don’t remember the person’s name, but I remember the speaker’s claim to fame was that she was the first female commercial pilot. This was long before Sandra Day O’Connor was on the Supreme Court and when women still wore pantyhose to work. Yet, at my impressionable young age, I didn’t think his accomplishment was so important. I was not aware of a glass ceiling; I just thought no woman had done that – yet.

Let’s celebrate women!

I was thinking of this because today is International Women’s Day and March is Women’s History Month. March 8 has been the date of International Women’s Day since 1914, when the day moved to align with Russian women who celebrated the day on February 23 on the Gregorian calendar. The celebration typically includes rallies and events calling for women’s suffrage and an end to gender discrimination. This year’s theme is “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Future”.

Women’s History Month is a time when we commemorate and encourage the study, respect, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.

Women’s History Month is fairly new, having become a national celebration in 1981.

What you can do to support women

  • The Zonta Club of South Puget Sound (ZSPS) was formed to focus on “hands-on” service projects. According to its website, it was chartered as part of Zonta International on June 21, 1995, because its 24 founding members were eager to become personally involved in serving the needs of women locally and internationally. For more information on how you can get involved, go to
  • The Junior League of Olympia empowers women in Thurston County by helping them develop civic leadership skills to put their unique talents to work in the community. I’ve worked with junior leagues in other areas, and they really help women recognize their potential and empower them to grow. I know many who have used JL to lay the groundwork for political careers. For more information, visit
  • YWCA Olympia is a multi-service organization serving girls, women and families since 1945. It’s not the same YWCA you might have known in the past.
  • YWCAs today are all focused on eliminating racism and sexism to advance the social, political and economic status of all women and girls. Specifically at YWCA Olympia, all activities place the leadership and wisdom of women of color at the center by engaging people of all genders, races, classes and abilities in their collective work. For more information on YWCA Olympia, go to
  • Leadership Women is not a grassroots organization, but a national organization that focuses on women’s empowerment and is open to all women. According to Linda Crompton, Executive Director, Leadership Women is at the forefront of helping women and their organizations develop intentional leaders. LW’s mission is to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunity for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. This determination drove their founders over 42 years ago (one of whom was Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas) and lives on today, empowering women around the world. A female leader in leadership is someone who wants to LEARN, LEAD and leave a LEGACY. (Full disclosure: I attended a leadership course in Texas as well as a leadership course in America and recently joined their board of directors). If you want to know more about this organization, feel free to contact me directly or visit

united women

  • Twice a month, the Thurston County Chamber hosts the Women’s Sphere of Influence, an opportunity to bring together influential women from our community to share their expertise and network. Participation is free and non-members of the Chamber are welcome. For more details go to
  • United Way of Thurston County offers Women United to celebrate the power of women to bring about positive change in our community through philanthropy and service. Any woman who makes United Way part of her philanthropy can be part of this dynamic group of women working together to solve pressing, local community issues. For more details, go to

A Take for Amelia Earhart

In April, Olympia Little Theater hosts a performance of “The Originals”. According to her website, this play is inspired by the true story of the heroic women pilots who formed the Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron during World War II. It is based on period interviews, letters and articles about women. The play tells the almost forgotten story of an elite squadron of female pilots who fight prejudice, betrayal, sabotage, and personal loss to prove they belong in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Their success and this story is an inspiring story of love, duty, sacrifice and human perseverance. For more details go to

Solicit your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that’s doing something great, celebrating a success, needs amazing volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and for individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to


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