After a record-breaking 55th Reunion gift, we haven’t sat on our laurels.
The 2021 Spring fundraiser surpassed our own goals with spectacular 77% class participation.
“Seventy-seven percent is unheard of for a non-reunion year, and we went way over our dollar goal too”, observes longtime ’65 Class Agent Susie Beers Betzer. “The point this year wasn’t how much to give as It was to participate.”
“Your efforts and the generosity of the class of 1965 ensure that Mount Holyoke forever shall be” writes Allison Butler, Director of the Mount Holyoke Fund. Her congratulatory letter is addressed to head Class Agents Sara Prozeller Hartman and Jackie Berkowitz.
Sara tells us that there are 28 agents for ’65, each assigned one to 15 “callees.” In an all-out effort to reconnect with outliers this year, she called 39 classmates and Jacki called 32. Sara credits Susie, “our secret weapon,” as the power behind the final push.
“There is amazingly little turnover among class agents, Sara notes. Veterans enjoy re-connecting with the same people they have solicited through the years”.
Our freshman year president, Susie is our veteran class agent extraordinaire. She has worked on every fund drive since graduation, as well as serving as a co-chair for our records-shattering 50th reunion gift, achieved with 95% participation.
“That was so exhilarating, Susie recalls, “I didn’t want to go into retirement. I realized that I could help agents who were shy about reaching out because I knew how to slice & dice the data and use the development website. I wanted them to share what was fun about connecting with each other.”
Sara herself has been a class agent “off and on” for decades, taking one decade off to serve as our single Class Scribe (we presently have three). She is now committed to serving a ten-year term. “I’ll be 88!!!” she reflects.
Why do all this?” Sara’s reply: “Our classmates are sincerely supportive of the College's commitment to offering all academically qualified women a world-class education, preparing them for a life of service in so many ways. Our financial gifts are essential to this mission.”
Jackie Berkowitz cites her attendance at the October 2013 MHC European Alumnae Conference in Warsaw as a major factor in her increased involvement with the college. In addition to reconnecting with fellow '65 attendees, she spent an evening with now President Sonya Stephens, then a recently appointed Academic Dean. Jackie joined the 50th Reunion Gift Team, attended the fall Volunteer Weekend on campus each year thereafter, worked on the 55th Reunion committee, and has been actively involved ever since.
“I really liked the new friends I kept making,” she explains, adding that she sees fund raising calls as a way of keeping us involved, not just with the college but with each other - something we all need as we age.
“The pandemic and the zoomed reunion gave us the opportunity to connect in a personal way”, Jackie notes. “During the reunion program discussions (about significant life changes) we spoke up because we felt we were in a safe environment.”
Jackie reflects that at a campus reunion we tend to talk just with old friends, whereas in our mini-reunion zoomed discussions and break-out rooms we are grouped at random with other attendees, affording us the chance to connect with classmates we never knew.
Would she go to an all-women’s college today? Jackie isn’t sure.
“The campus is a different place than the one we knew, but the world has changed. Mount Holyoke remains a unique and rigorous academic institution. On volunteer weekends, I am inspired listening to the students who speak about what they are doing on campus and during their internships. Asking classmates to support the college and its students today is an easy assignment. They are engaged and engaging women – like us.”
Submitted by Chris Tree
Did you ever wonder what it was like to be a passenger on the Mayflower? What the Pilgrims ate? What they wore? How they got to know their Native American neighbors?
In a spectacular presentation Saturday, August 14th, Noelle Parsons Granger answered all these questions and more. She grew up in Plymouth, virtually across the street from what was originally called “Plimoth Plantation” and was one of the first guides hired when it opened. Thus her interest in the Pilgrims and the Pokanoket (Wampanoag) is deep seeded, long lasting, and ongoing.
Her decision on how to write The Last Pilgrim, a work of historical fiction focused on 4-year old Mary Allerton Cushman, turned on what voice to use for the narrative. Finally, after two years of debating this issue, she decided to have Isaac, Mary’s father, speak for her until she became an adult. That worked!
Noelle illustrated her talk with beautiful slides and even added a video of herself sweltering in the winter garb and latchets—shoes—the Pilgrim women wore.
The women who arrived on the “Mayflower,” having endured an unimaginably miserable 66 days at sea, were then required to stay on board while the men went ashore. Conditions were so wretched, that only five women survived the first winter.
Besides the subject of her book, Noelle talked about two other women who played significant roles in the colony. First, Bridget Fuller, a midwife. When other ships arrived after the ‘Mayflower’(The Fortune, Anne, Little James), their passengers included many women. Thus Bridget had a very important job, essentially ensuring the survival of the colony by assisting in the birth of many children.
Another female colonist of note was Elizabeth Warren, who came on the Anne in 1623. Five years after she arrived, her husband, Richard, died and as she did not remarry. She eventually played a role equivalent to that of a man, in that she owned property and paid taxes. Her farm extended from Plymouth to Sandwich, and she earned a place in the Records of Plymouth Colony: “Mistress Elizabeth Warren, an aged widow, aged above 90 years, deceased on the second of October, 1673. Who, having lived a godly life, came to her grave as a shock of corn fully ripe.”
Focusing on Separatist culture, the Plimoth colony, and events of the time, Noelle shared background material from many other topics she researched that were not included in this book. For instance, she talked about a peace treaty between Massasoit and the Pilgrims (Governor John Carver, Captain Myles Standish and Elder William Brewster). They mutually agreed upon nonaggression and mutual defense. I daresay most of us didn’t realize this treaty endured for forty years!
As we learn more about Plymouth Colony, and inasmuch as “Plimoth Plantation” has been renamed the “Plimoth Patuxet Museums,” we can hope for a better understanding of the Wampanoag , ”The People of the Light.”
Thank you, Noelle!
Sunny Eaton Steadman
If you missed it, there is still time to view this presentation but only until September 12, 2021!
Use this link:
Access Passcode: 1h%H$V7q
Questions? Contact Monnie Bell & Bev Braman Harrison