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Saturday, December 08, 2012

Society Saturday - National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution

GENEABLOGGERS Society Saturday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. Are you involved with a genealogical or historical society? Do you want to showcase their good works, projects and events? Society Saturday is a way to do that at your own genealogy blog. This prompt has been suggested by Dana of the Just Folks blog.

I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution - Kate Barry Chapter. What is the DAR? According to the national website: "The DAR, founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children."

They have a whole city block in downtown Washington DC with the old NSDAR building. This building houses Constitution Hall where the annual DAR convention is held every summer. This convention is called the Continental Congress and delegates from chapters all over the world come for a week long convention. The DAR national meeting is named after the original Continental Congress which governed the American Colonies during the Revolutionary War. At this convention, the chapters report on the work they've done throughout the year and awards are given out. I was able to go to on of these annual conventions and it's steeped in tradition. The evening assemblies are attended by women in evening wear, wearing long white gloves and ribbons full of DAR pins. It was fascinating to see women with ribbons full of patriot ancestor names! They had program speakers and pomp and circumstance.

Old photos I found of a Continental Congress.

Notice the gowns and white gloves? The ladies on the main floor still wear the evening gowns and white gloves.

This was originally the assembly hall but is now the library. You can see the glass ceiling.

Also, in this building is the famous DAR library and atrium. That was my favorite part. I would love to spend some time in those stacks. Currently the library atrium is under remodeling. The original and old glass ceiling is having to be restored after the earthquake last year. There is also the DAR Museum which was fascinating.

How do you become a member? It's an exclusive group, you can only join if you can prove you have an ancestor who was a patriot during the American Revolution. And it has to be proved with every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed. Every generation from your ancestor, to you, has to be proven. I was able to join under Travis Rees. The form has to be filled out and done according to their rules. Every chapter has a registrar to help those who are interested in joining. This registrar should be able to guide you in finding your proof and helping you fill out the forms correctly. Your chapter must also vote you in. I did not have a problem with this. The ladies were wonderfully warm and helpful and I have no glaring warning signs to stop them from voting me into their chapter. I have heard of other chapters not being quite so welcoming but I think this is probably pretty rare. And you can transfer from one chapter to another if you move. For instance, I had joined one in NC when we lived there but when we moved back home to SC, I found this chapter and got transferred. I did learn one thing the hard way. If you no longer want to be a part of your chapter, don't just quit showing up and quit paying your dues. Write a formal letter of resignation so you will be considered still in "good standing". That way, if you want to re-join your chapter or another new chapter at a future date, the transfer is much easier. If you just stopped going and stopped paying your dues, then you have to pay back dues and fees to transfer or re-join. All it would have taken was a simple letter of resignation, I just didn't know to do it. So I quit going to the one in NC and started going to the one in SC and ended up having to pay the back dues and fee.

There is an application fee to verify your ancestor and there are annual dues. This annual amount is based on annual national DAR dues + annual state DAR dues + annual local chapter DAR dues. The first two are non-negotiable but chapter dues are different in different chapters. The chapter will also have fundraisers and take up donations for their charities. For instance, my chapter decided to give money towards purchasing flags for our SC School for the Deaf and Blind. They had to be special tactile flags. That was our project last year. This year we did mugs for veterans. We contributed coffee mugs full of candy and tied up with a bow with a note of appreciation given to the veterans through our local American Legion. We also support the Tamassee DAR school. Tamassee DAR School is a private 501-c(3) non-profit children’s home and family services organization in SC offering multi-faceted programs to serve children and families with a variety of needs. The live-in students live in cottages and dormitories. We've donated money, books, hygiene items, raised money for special projects at the school. We also give money to various DAR projects such as the President's Project (the NSDAR President in Washington, DC) and the State Regent's Project (the top officer over the state). The President's Project this year is restoring the atrium glass ceiling in the NSDAR library. The State Regent's Project last year was replacing the outdoor lights at Tamassee. They replaced the streetlights with star lights that resembled the original star lights.

Our chapter donated enough money to replace one of the lights. As a chapter, we also took up donations to help Walnut Grove Plantation replace the old box woods in the garden. Our chapter is named after Kate Barry who lived there with her husband and family during the Revolutionary War and they were very active as Patriots in the War. Walnut Grove is local, so we feel a responsibility to help them keep the historical landmark in good shape. We have some very giving, open hearted women but there are also those of us on a budget and I've never felt like I had to give more than I could afford.

You can add more Patriot ancestors to your membership. These are called Supplementals and it costs an additional fee to add supplemental Patriots. I have 2 supplementals and I could have more but I can only spend so much. But I would really love to add more. I purchased a DAR ribbon which suspends from the chapter bar. I have my original ancestor, Travis Rees, as a bar on my ribbon and I have 2 supplemental bars on my ribbon. On the end of the ribbon hangs the NSDAR emblem. Of course, you don't have to have the ribbons. But each item on the ribbon represents work, service or donations in the DAR. You can get pins for your ribbons based on service within the organization (local, state, regional, national) or based on donations or purchases. For instance, you can purchase a lifetime membership for national, state, and chapter. If you donate a lot of money, you also can earn special pins. If you are a Chapter Regent (the top officer in your local chapter), Vice Regent, etc, you could purchase a pin for your ribbon. That's how those women in the top echelons have those big ribbons full of pins. And, something in you wants to add pins. Think of when you were in Girl Scouts.

Everything done in your meetings can garner points for your chapter and you can earn awards at the national convention. Keeping records of all the things that earn you points and filling out the forms is one of the hardest things in an officer's job. It can be so many points for adding new members; so many points for speakers who speak on historical events; so many points for members who volunteer at the local soup kitchen; so many points for subscribing to the NSDAR magazine, American Spirit, etc. It goes on and on. The officers are generally Regent, Vice Regent, Secretary, Treasurer, Chaplain, Registrar.

I joined a chapter that meets at lunch time. This is perfect for me because I can't drive at night. My eyes are sensitive to the lights at night and it's hard for me to see. Anyway, I was very blessed to have a lunch group. Probably most of the chapters are evening meetings. We meet once a month for 9 mos of the year. All of the meetings will have a business section but one meeting per year will be a business meeting without a special speaker. I've been real impressed with 99 % of the speakers and have learned a lot. One of the most difficult jobs since I've been with my chapter, has been finding a place to have a nice luncheon that meets with everyone's approval. You can't satisfy everyone but our slate of officers has really tried. We want something that has good environment, good food, reasonable cost, good service. Some ladies are on limited incomes so it doesn't need to be overly expensive. On the other hand, some of the ladies want it to feel like a nice treat, so it can't just be a bowl of chili or a hot dog. Finding a place with lady-like ambience has been important too. We are trying our 4th place since I've been a member of this chapter (7 yrs).

I can honestly say that the women I've met in the two chapters I've been a member of were kind, soft hearted, caring, giving women and I've been privileged to meet them and get to know them. As a normally shy introvert, I pushed myself to get into this. But it was worth it and now it's not hard. If you have the idea that these are just hoity toity snobs, you might be surprised. Like I said, there are probably some women or chapters out there like that but it's not been the case in the two I've been a member of.

Why did I join? I wanted to prove my Patriot ancestry and have it documented. This organization keeps the records of all those daughters from now on. Let's say my grand niece wanted to join. She could use my work to prove her ancestry in order to join. Every year that goes by, is another year that old records are going to be harder to find or obtain. But it's organizations like this that will keep records and lineages available. It was a pain in the neck to fill out the forms and do the research work, but I felt it was worth it to have my lineage documented and to bring honor to my ancestors that fought for American independence. Once I was a member, I realized that the organization does a lot of good work whether it's helping the DAR school or helping to replace box woods at the local historical site. It's a worthwhile organization and I learn a lot from the interesting speakers we have and I've developed friendships with women who have common interests in history and genealogy.

For more on the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution click NSDAR
For more on the SC DAR
For more on my chapter, NSDAR Kate Barry Chapter

Friday, December 07, 2012

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Stan and I wanted to take our grand nephew, Brett, to the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Ronnie decided to come too and Mom and Dad joined us. Brett behaved beautifully and he seemed to have a great time. I could care less about race cars but it was worth going to take the photos and experience his excitement. Here are the photos I took.

Inside one of the big rigs that hauls the race cars. The bottom level is a shop and the cars ride on the upper level.

Cheap Gift Wrapping

I wish I could say that I wrap Christmas gifts neatly or extravagantly but to tell you the truth...I'm a step above my Mom who still gives gifts in plastic shopping bags but way below others that make gift wrapping an art form. I do COVER the gifts but that is about as far as it gets. I hate wrapping! First of all I'm never comfortable doing it. If I do it at a desk or table, I'm standing the whole time. If I do it on the floor (like I did this year) I can barely get up and down so I'm all bowed over and still standing. Anyway I look at it I'm uncomfortable and in pain and I get tired. And, face it, there is never enough room! You have all these gifts laid out, then there are those ungainly rolls of wrapping paper. I like gift bags, those are the best thing since sliced bread. I stuff everything in gift bags and throw something on top to cover the gift and I'm ready to hand it out!

But I do admire those who wrap a gift so neatly. Despite my attempts, my wrapped gifts are kind of sloppy. One of my sil's tried to teach me how to neatly wrap a box during one of our first years of marriage. It helped, but mine still look a little lopsided, bows come off, etc.

Here are some photos of fancy gift wrapping and great tips and ideas that I found on the Internet:
Wrap Green! Use reusable gift bags.


These Green ideas came from him:

Use natural things to wrap and decorate with!

Use paper punches or patterns and scissors. Notice the eyelets that form the Champagne bubbles?

Use your printer to make gift wrap from one of your photos!

Use your rubberstamps!

You can buy baskets at thrift stores or yard sales easily and cheaply!

Use your paper punches to make a bow!

Use some velvet ribbon and a small pick of silk flowers.

Using white chinese takeout boxes is a current trend!

A tissue paper bow!

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