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download 125 Years of GFWC

June 2018
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Kim Skagen
Vice President:
JuJu Slater
Vicki Conner
Rita Loseth

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GFWC Washington State

Fred Oldfield Western Heritage Center

Ryan House Museum

Federation Forest

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Imagine a world where everyone is able to read. Literacy–the ability to read and write–is a basic skill for people to live and work today. However the illiteracy rate worldwide remains a concern. About one in five adults in today’s world–more than 700 million women and men are illiterate, primarily in developing countries. Two-thirds of these are women. Approximately 72 million children who should be in school are not.

Illiteracy concerns in the U.S. remain a major problem as well, in spite of major gains in all areas of education. More than 32 million adults in the U.S., or about 14 percent of population, have very low literacy skills. The skills are so low that some cannot even read anything more complicated and challenging than a simple children’s book with pictures.

  • Women in the U.S. who have little formal education are more likely than educated women to be in abusive relationships.
  • 60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.
  • Illiteracy costs American businesses more than 60 billion dollars every year in lost productivity and health and safety issues.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, workers 18 and over with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $51,206 a year, while those with a high school diploma earn $27,915; those without a high school diploma average $18,734.

Literacy is more than just an individual’s ability to read, it is an individual’s ability to read, write, speak, compute, and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family, and in society.

The GFWC Education Community Service Program intends to improve literacy and education awareness in communities at home and around the world.

As GFWC clubwomen, we have the obligation to improve our own reading habits as well as to work with those in our community who need assistance. The Epsilon Sigma Omicron program, which offers a path to selfenrichment and personal growth for members, promotes a lifelong commitment to learning and self improvement through reading. We will join forces with literacy organizations to provide the cohesiveness needed for existing reading programs. For the adult who cannot read at all, or who cannot read well, there must be special instruction by volunteer tutors. Adults and young people should be encouraged to use libraries in order to continue improvement of reading skills, and we must work to establish libraries where they are needed.

GFWC-Epsilon Sigma Omicron

Epsilon Sigma Omicron is an honorary educational society open to all per-capita paying GFWC federated club members. ESO provides clubwomen with a structured reading program that is educational and stimulates a desire for self-improvement.

GFWC offers ESO materials such as ESO Chapter Guidelines, the ESO reading list, and an ESO informational brochure.
  • Establish a state ESO chapter if one does not exist, or order the updated book list. Order the ESO handbook at www.GFWC.org/Marketplace.
  • Verify the charter of an ESO chapter in your state; contact your state president or the GFWC Programs area.

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