8/10/2017 8:20:00 AM ST. THERESA'S PARISH Windham 'Women's Expo'
fights domestic violence,
boosts women in Church
St. Theresa’s Women’s Expo will be held Aug. 19, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is a free-will offering. The parish is at 5188 State Rt. 23, Windham. See www.st-theresas-womens-expo.org.
THE PATCHWORKERS quilting group -- front row, Blanche Kellerhouse, Eileen Buel, Peggy Fromm and Laura Ferro; back row, Michelle Rogers, Marcia Dougherty and Betty Verhoeven -- and vendor Nilda Rodriguez of Miraluz Candles.
There's never a bad time for the Catholic Church to promote the important role of women in the faith and in the community, says Anne Donovan.
That's why the Women's Guild at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus parish in Windham will hold a huge "Women's Expo" Aug. 19.
The Greene County Domestic Violence Shelter will receive the proceeds.
St. Theresa's is already well-known for its annual golf tournament, which draws hundreds of golfers each September and brings in about $45,000 a year for the parish (read a previous story at www.evangelist.org).
Already, Mrs. Donovan told The Evangelist, the upcoming Women's Expo has raised an impressive donation for the domestic violence shelter through sponsors of the event. Expo sponsors include area banks, businesses and individuals, as well as the Women's Guild, the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene Counties.
For attendees, the all-day event will ask only a free-will donation.
The first-ever expo has a double focus on "health and wellness, fun and frills." It will begin with the option of a group walk or run on the Windham Path, a scenic trail about two miles long that connects Windham, Hensonville and Maplecrest along the Batavia Kill stream.
Attendees can spend the rest of the day strolling through St. Theresa's chapel, parish hall and parking lot for a lengthy list of selections:
seeing a live beehive under glass and hearing about bees;
taking an exercise class;
getting a massage;
learning how to make or repair a quilt;
listening to motivational speakers on how to balance personal and professional life, women's health issues, women in business and more;
consulting with master gardeners about vegetable gardens or flower beds;
watching a chef's cooking demonstration;
getting fitness and nutrition tips;
shopping at vendors' booths of jewelry, bath and beauty items and other regionally-made products;
enjoying live music from six acts, including Irish musician Kitty Kelly and students from Windham-Ashland-Jewett Central School;
participating in hands-on science demonstrations for children;
learning about fertility and reproductive health from the pro-life Gianna Center of Albany; and
trying many foods, from fair favorites to vegan options.
There will be education on everything from monarch butterflies to adaptive sports for persons with disabilities. Yoga for teenagers and chair yoga will be offered. Cornell Cooperative Extension personnel will lead a host of programs. Local radio station WRIP 97.7 FM will broadcast live from the expo all day.
At the end of the day, a women's mountain bike clinic and ride is planned.
"It's about time the Catholic Church does something like this," Mrs. Donovan declared. "It's time the rest of the community understands that women in the Catholic Church play a wonderful role."
The concept of a Women's Expo came about last year, she said, after Rev. Jay Atherton, pastor of St. Theresa's, read an article to parishioners on the subject of women in the Church.
Mrs. Donovan said the approximately 30 members of St. Theresa's Women's Guild took the expo idea in hand. The guild usually had bake sales and an annual boutique to fund the gift cards the parish gives to people in need each year, but decided an expo would be bigger and better.
The Greene County Office of Economic Development helped in the planning, as did local women in public relations and business. Networking by guild members brought in sponsors.
The month of August was chosen because Windham, a tourism-heavy community, sees many summer visitors who come to Greene County and surrounding areas to hike or vacation with family.
Still, said Mrs. Donovan, the expo is not necessarily geared toward tourists. What's most crucial to the guild is getting the word out about social services that are available locally.
"People are hesitant to reach out for help," she said. "We want to show how easy it is."
With the Greene County Domestic Violence Shelter receiving the funds raised through the expo, Mrs. Donovan especially noted that mental health issues "touch everybody.
"Everybody knows somebody that's been involved in domestic violence," she said. In planning the expo, "people have cozied up to me and said, 'I was one of those [victims]' -- people you'd never dream of."
With just days to go, "there's a huge buzz" in the community about the expo, said Mrs. Donovan, who was heading out to put up 100 lawn signs advertising the event as she spoke to The Evangelist.
The guild expects at least 300 people to attend - and not just women. The expo includes offerings targeted at men and children, too.
"The future of our parish, and all parishes, is to become more active in the community," Mrs. Donovan noted. "That doesn't mean you have to be political" or focused only on Catholic themes: "Some of our best volunteers are not Catholic. This is a non-denominational event.
"It's about doing the right thing for the people around you. We need a little more of that."