CARBONDALE– When Luisa Diaz attended her first meeting of the Business and Professional Women (BPW) of Carbondale five years ago, she found “a group of women who have a voice, a real voice, to help one another become better individuals professionally and personally. I’m an LPN, and I love helping others. This group is just what I was looking for.”

Diaz is just one of nearly two dozen ladies from throughout Carbondale and the Lackawanna County area who belong to the local chapter of the century-old BPW/USA, the national extension of a global organization committed to networking among and empowering women worldwide. 

 

“Our Carbondale BPW chapter turned 80 in May, and we’re proud of who we are and what we stand for,” said Joann Gordon, the group’s president and a 22-year long member. “BPW/PA is a state-wide organization of 1600+ members in 75 local groups and districts. We’re a leading advocate for working women in our state, as we focus on all issues that touch women’s lives and careers.

“Early on, we were all professional working women of all ages in a wide variety of careers and vocations. But as times change and members stay on, we’re inclusive of all women, whether still working or retired. We’re a diverse group where every one of us has something to offer another.”

While the Carbondale District 8 BPW chapter was founded in 1938, the legacy of BPW began in 1919. During mobilization of WWI, the US Government recognized the need for a cohesive group to coordinate the identification of women’s available skills and experience. Financed through a federal grant and principally guided by the YWCA, the War Department established a group to organize the resources of professional women. By the 1930s, the BPW/USA became a charter member of the International Federation of BPW. Since its organization a century ago, BPW/PA is one of the charter members of the National Federation of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs Inc.

“A year before women gained the right to vote in 1920, the Federation was formed to advocate for all working women,” continued Diana Rivera, a decade-long member of the Carbondale district. “BPW/USA became the first organization created to focus on the working women’s issues, including women’s rights and equal pay. When Social Security was signed into law in 1935, Eleanor Roosevelt met with women to help coordinate their own paycheck deductions to help save for their future. The women of that era were seen as trailblazers – just like today’s members who reflect the many faces of women and diversity across our state.”

Every third Thursday of the month, local District 8 members gather for a supper meeting at a pre-designated local restaurant to discuss and coordinate its various activities. “On our local level, we support the work of the national foundation, working with women and employers to create successful workplaces to promote diversity, equity, and work-life balance,” Gordon explained.

“Periodically, we’ll have a guest speaker or a topical business-related training session geared toward individual development. Among some of our many events, our chapter also helps support local food pantries, programs at the ‘Y’, we coordinate a children’s Christmas party, and we help support the Mary E. Walker House, which is a women-veterans’ transitional residence outside of Philadelphia.

“We also hold annual fundraisers and donate monies to local groups and entities, like the Carbondale Library, the city’s Historical Society, and the local nursing home,” added Gordon. “And annually we present a valedictorian award scholarship to a local high school graduate who earns his or her designation through academic achievement, as well as a nursing/medical award scholarship to another graduate planning to pursue their education in the nursing or medical field. Overall, we’re women helping one another.”

For additional information about the Carbondale BPW, visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/District8Bpw, or email dianarivera2850@yahoo.com. Visit www.bpwpa.org for information about the statewide BPW/PA organization.