All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Friday, December 8th, 2023

Women’s Institute bursary among celebration of accomplishments

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Prince Edward Collegiate Institute student Christine Thornton was the recipient of the 2023 Prince Edward District Women’s Institute bursary, receiving a $1,000 which will help toward her plan to attend school this September at Queen’s University in Kingston.

Secretary Betty Zyvatkauskas presents $1,000 to bursary recipient Christine Thornton.

The bursary was awarded to Thornton during the Prince Edward District Women’s Institute (PEDWI) annual general meeting this week at the Royal Canadian Legion, Consecon branch.

“It definitely means a lot coming from such an important part of the County, which is my home, and it will be really helpful next year to take some of the pressure off from having to work so hard and really focus on my studies,” said Thornton.

She hopes to go into pharmaceuticals, and presently works at a local pharmacy so is already learning some things, she said.

“Next year, I will be going into chemistry at Queen’s, but it’s a general science first year, so you take a lot of different courses and then at the end of first year you decide what you are going to do, although I pretty much know what I am going to do,” she added.

The bursary will go toward school fees, residence fees, and will help cover a lot of other things such as some of her living expenses and school supplies.

“I’m pretty excited, I really like science and learning, so I might be a community pharmacist or go into research or something like that, and I find it really interesting.”

The annual general meeting, the 115th for the local organization, went through a number of formalities, including the ratification of district directors and the election of district officers, as well as financial, annual and examiner’s reports.

Kim de Bruin, PEDWI president, was absent due to surgery, but provided a greeting which was read in her absence.

“We have accomplished much and have so much to be proud of as WI members, including the celebration of WIs 125th anniversary last year, and this year we are celebrating another milestone,” read de Bruin’s statement.

The milestone she refers to is the famous and much-anticipated one-day art and craft sale which will be marking its 40th year this summer.

The art and craft sale, featuring more than 200 juried artists from across Ontario, is held at the Picton fairgrounds and usually attracts thousands from locals to visitors from far and wide, where this year’s celebration will include special anniversary events throughout the day of the sale.

It is a significant annual fundraiser for the not-for-profit organization, where the proceeds from the sale go toward various community projects, including accessible transportation in the County.

“We continue to support our community and beyond by donating to our schools, hospitals, foodbanks, accessible transportation; we have sewing bees and we have donated items to Canada Comforts,” she said. “Our branches continue to provide education through the Rose programs, and so much more.

“Without the efforts and support of each and every one of you, none of this would be possible.”

Another milestone was announced, this time by Mary Blanchart, president of the Consecon branch, who noted how the Consecon branch of the PEDWI is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year.

The relaxed meeting format welcomed members from the County’s six branches, including from Rednersville, Demorestville, Mountain View-Wellington, Hillier, Consecon and Cherry Valley, were fellowship and friendship were enjoyed, along with the business of the day.

PEDWI also welcomed guests Nancy Wood (Trent Valley area chair), Sharon Rusk (Trent Valley area vice-chair), Gayle Grills (area voting delegate), and Jane Schuell (Hastings district president).

From left, are: Andrea Wierstra, Wilma de Wolde, Sue Holmes, Judy Tunnell, Brenda DeCastris, Susan Donly and Mary Ellen Closson

The ratification of district directors and alternates were sworn in by Gayle Grills, as follows:
Cherry Valley: Wilma de Wolde, and Andrea Wierstra (alternate)
Consecon: Sue Holmes, Kim de Bruin (alternate)
Demorestville: Brenda De Castris, Judy Tunnell (alternate)
Mountain View-Wellington: Sue Donly, Mary Ellen Closson (alternate)
Hillier: Lee Ann Scammell
Rednersville: Margaret Vandervelde, Evelyn Peck (alternate)

From left, are: Wilma de Wolde, Linda Mitchell, Judy Tunnell, Brenda DeCastris and Susan Donly

The election and installation of district officers, sworn in by Nancy Wood, are as follows:
President: Kim de Bruin
Past president: Wilma de Wolde
Vice president: Linda Mitchell
Secretary: Susan Donly
Secretary back-up: vacant
Treasurer: Judy Tunnell
Public relations: Wilma de Wolde
Art & Craft co-ordinator: Wilma de Wolde
Education co-ordinator: Evelyn Peck
Tweedsmuir curator: Brenda DeCastris
Website co-ordinator: vacant
Advocacy co-ordinator: Committee of the whole.

The number of volunteer hours put in by PEDWI members collectively in the past year were highlighted by each branch representative.

With six members, the Consecon branch clocked 3,840 volunteer hours in the last year (500 hours the year before), Rednersville’s 12 members noted 1,400 volunteer hours (up from 944), and the eight very busy members at Mountain View-Wellington branch logged 1,917 volunteer hours (1,436 last year).

The Demorestville branch noted 14 members, where it was noted five are over 80 years of age. They logged 2,964 volunteer hours (830 last year).

“We are very busy and we like it – most times!” said Sue Holmes. “We also cater to funerals, and do seniors dinners seven months of the year which are two-day events.”

The Cherry Valley branch logged over 3,000 volunteer hours, and Hillier with its eight members logged 337 volunteer hours, down from 650 the year before.

“We are a very busy organization, we are up to nine members now, four of us are above 70, four of us are below 70,” said Wilma de Wolde with the Cherry Valley branch.

In her financial report, treasurer Judy Tunnell said their only revenue, $11,000, was from the art and craft sale last year.

“It is down by about 40 per cent from 2019, the last one held,” said Tunnell. “Expenses were up, so that $11,000 is about half of what we received in 2019.”

The PEDWI presented $15,000 to the community last year.

From left, are: Nancy Wood, Wilma de Wolde, Elaine Marshall, Andrea Wierstra, Dini Kempenaar

Nancy Wood presented a certificate to the Cherry Valley branch members celebrating their 115th year as a branch.

“Even when I was president quite a few years ago, these ladies were a branch to be reckoned with; you guys are amazing and you are doing your community proud,” said Wood, who also referenced the very popular bake sale that is now in its 36th year, noting the incredible quantity of goods made, and the 45-minutes it takes to sell out.

“One hundred and fifteen years, wow, that is great!” she added.

Wilma de Wolde congratulates Betty Zyvatkauskas on her retirement as PEDWI secretary

Celebrating her retirement as PEDWI secretary, Betty Zyvatkauskas was acknowledged by Wilma de Wolde in a presentation.

“Thank you for being our secretary for so long, for five years at least, enjoy your retirement!” said de Wolde.

Zyvatkauskas said it had been fun and she had learned a lot from everybody.

“I’ve loved working with you and I want to thank everybody at the WI for making me feel so welcome in the County,” said Zyvatkauskas.

“As someone who came from the city and retired here, this was a really fantastic way to meet lots of really interesting and engaging people, and I would encourage other retirees to do the same, it’s a great way to participate.”

After lunch, new business was attended to, there was a video presentation on the PEDWIs history, followed by comments from the president and a note of upcoming events.

The 40th annual Art and Craft sale is set for Thursday, Aug. 3, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., at the Picton Fairgrounds, 375 Main Street, Picton. Admission is $5 (under 12s are free) and parking is free.

To find out more about who the Prince Edward District Women’s Institute are, and the valuable volunteer contributions they make in the community, visit

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