Who will join me as mentors?
Not too long ago, I was sorting through an old box of IWPA/NFPW documents
and came across photographs taken at each one of the NFPW national conferences
I’ve attended. They were all dressed up and wore big smiles on their faces. The photos
were taken of the group on stage right after the national award winners had their names
announced and been handed their national certificates. They were all beautiful.
I had met each of them because of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.
In this photo taken during the 2009 Idaho Falls NFPW Conference are: Front row (from left):
Cecilia Green, Marlene Cook, Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas, Ann Heinrichs, and Pamela Dittmer
Back row: Barbara Land, Cindy Cruz, Suzanne Hanney and Val Ensalaco.
These were women I admired because they had come from such diverse careers
and yet would lend you a hand to mentor the newcomer because that was what the
women before them had done for them and it was after all, the right thing to do now
for the newest members.
I looked at the photos and smiled the way one does when remembering the
innocence of joining a club, an organization, or sorority in the days of one’s youth.
These women introduced me to the National Federation of Press Women at a
time when I was searching to retool my skills, redefine my career and find out where
my groove had been for the past few years.
These were the women who taught me how to promote my writing, especially
those very first short-fiction stories published in 2003 and 2004, which were more
memoirs than fiction and had been cathartic to get on the page. These same women
mentored me when I was a newcomer to the organization.
I packed the papers and photographs back into the box and told myself that I
would email these women soon and express how I hoped we would see each other at
the upcoming NFPW conference.
I knew what happened to some of them since those pictures had been taken.
A few were spotlighted in PenPoints, others featured on the IWPA web site. Some had
attended the May awards luncheon. We spoke briefly promising to get together over
coffee soon. We all had the same story, life was hectic, trying to deal with the economic
downturn had not been easy for any of us, how did we end up wearing so many “hats”
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