Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced

For the entire month of March, FEW will recognize the valiant women who refuse to be silent. The courageous women who energized and transformed a grateful nation. Valiant is such a noble word, and descriptive of the plight of the Women’s Suffragist Movement and the actions of those refusing to be silenced to ensure equality.  Their valiancy means “possessing or acting with bravery or boldness: courageous” and “marked by, exhibiting, or carried out with courage or determination: heroic.” Today we have our vote and we demand our voice through our vote be respected and heard.

This Women’s History Month, we continue the commemoration for the centennial anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”  FEW want us all to mark the past actions of women, the present results of those actions and the inspiring future we have before us because of the Women’s Suffragist Movement. 

The struggle of equality has never come easy, nonetheless women now have a say through the ballot box.  FEW along with thousands of other organizations continue the fight to ensure our voices and contributions are recognized and the status of all people improve.  Each day we should recognize the many achievements of women throughout history in art, athletics, business, government, philanthropy, humanities, science, and education.  Women have contributed a lot to society, and we have made great strides in reducing the gender equity gap. However, we still have some barriers to overcome to ensure equal economic opportunities, educational equity, women’s health, and an end to gender-based violence.

While women have made great strides in the fight for greater equality in the United States and around the world, there is still work to do.  The fight for equality for women has been over the right to vote, equal wages in the workplace, safety against sexual assault and constant objectification …you know, basic human rights.

Although the fight continues, women have organized and removed many societal limits.  Here is a short timeline:
1848 → women were legally allowed to own property.
1900 → there were 85,000 female college students in the United States.
         → this number grew to over 600,000 in 1940. 
1920 → Women were given the right to vote after many hunger-strikes and imprisonments.
1941 → Millions of women enter the workforce during World War II. 
1963 → Equal Pay, Equal Work introduced
1986 → Protected Work Environments
1993 → Federal Medical Leave Act introduced
2013 → Women serve in Combat
2018 → The record was set when 102 women were elected into the House
2020 → Women are the majority in the workforce  
2021 → The first woman and women of color is installed as the Vice President of the United States of America.

Women’s History Month is not about taking control over other women, nor taking control over men, but its about having control over our one’s own life and have a say in it to contribute for the greater good of all Americans.  This month, I ask that you join FEW in our reflection on just a few of the valiant women who because of their refusal to be silenced, we now have a just future that we call can be proud.

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

As I reflect on the meaning behind the 2021 Black History Month theme “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” I graciously think about the importance of knowing who you are and how you identify yourself to fit into this world.  It is a fact that there is importance in how we define ourselves and what we represent for the greater good of humanity.  Studies have shown that there is absolute strength in diversity.  FEW is an organization that explores all aspects of diversity and this month we highlight and celebrate the contribution of the Black family; those who advance our cause and join us in working for the advancement of women the government.”  There is no doubt that Black people have contributed in numerous advancements in our society and made several cracks in the glass ceiling. Our nation is better because of their inclusion, representation and contributions.

Just like any masterpiece painting, the reflection of different shades adds depth and value. The black family for many generations told the story of survival and elevation. With the record-breaking feats in science, medicine, technology, politics, sports and so much more; the black family’s identity, representation has become more prevalent and recognizable. Our first National President, Ms. Allie Latimer, is a black woman who is now honored in The Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York because of her representation of excellence and knowing her identity. Today I asked her what does she think about this year’s theme and she said, “The Black family is the glue that has held many of us together and allowed us to stand strong on each other’s shoulders to propel the mission and values of FEW forward. FEW recognize the importance of operating in love, service and support of others to reach down in love and support to pull other up – another rung on the ladder.  This is one of the keys to our success as we include and reflect everyone’s story during the Black History Month celebration.”

FEW celebrate Black History Month; noting that the Black family is part of the nucleus of American history. Whether good or bad, Black family have help defined the American dream. 

US Capitol Incident Remarks

I am deeply troubled and astonished by what occurred at the U.S. Capitol Building. The U.S. Capitol Building is the symbol of our democracy and where our laws and our principles are debated and upheld.  It is also the place where hundreds of federal civilian and military servants work every day.  The Capitol represents “The Peoples House” and it simply cannot be defiled. 

Federally Employed Women (FEW) supports a safe and equal environment to work together for the inclusion of everyone’s voice.  All voices must be heard, yet, the display yesterday stopped our National Representatives from conducting the business of our nation and put federal workers in harms way.  FEW sends our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives yesterday in the U.S. Capitol Building.  We are disheartened over the actions of so few.  

Although this blight on our nation happened, I know we are better than this and our best days are ahead of us, not behind. We stand unified with Congress, their staffs, security professionals, police officers or maintenance personnel at the Capitol.  We took an oath to protect and serve and that is exactly what we will do.

May God Bless America!

Karen Rainey

National President

Science Update: 5 Tips to Protect Yourself From COVID-19

FEW believes the U.S. government should be a model employer and progress will allow members to appropriately care for themselves or their families without worrying about job security. FEW supports paid leave for federal employees so you can care for your family. Most agencies have also adopted internal policies for employee COVID-19 leave. Please check with your agency’s human resources department for their COVID-19 leave policy. Several U.S. government websites also provide updates about frequently asked questions pertaining to COVID-19.

Schools have gone virtual. Events are cancelled. Businesses have enacted work from home policies and travel bans are in place.

Every aspect of your life, including your daily routine has been significantly altered. It’s completely normal to feel unsettled or anxious.

How can you cope with the disruption and find a “zen” mindset while keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid exposure by steering clear of the 3Cs—spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact. Every day preventative actions, such as social distancing and wearing a mask also help to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Here’s five tips to cope with the stress and protect yourself from COVID-19:

Tip #1: Wear a mask the right way

Although masks keep people who are infected from spreading respiratory droplets when they cough, sneeze or talk, they are not a substitute for social distancing. Always wear a mask in public and when around people who don’t live in your household. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in addition to protecting others from the coronavirus, wearing a mask also offers protection to you from breathing in the virus. The CDC is currently studying the effectiveness of various cloth mask materials.

For maximum protection, be sure you are wearing your mask the right way—put it over your nose and mouth and secure it against the sides of your face. It should fit snuggly. Try not to touch your mask while wearing it, but if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. When removing your mask, handle only the ear loops or ties. Of course, be sure to wash and completely dry your cloth mask each time you wear it.

Tip #2: Maintain an exercise routine
Not only is exercise essential for your well-being during the pandemic but getting your heart pumping for 150 minutes a week can also reduce stress, prevent weight gain, boost your immune system and improve sleep. Afterall, physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand. Exercise helps regulate your immune system, which may also reduce severe symptoms of COVID-19. In fact, several studies have linked moderate exercise with decreased rates of influenza and pneumonia, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Tip #3: Take care of your mental health
During these uncertain times, your mental state can impact every aspect of your life, exacerbating an already challenging situation. That’s why it is important to identify ways you can look after your mental health. Follow trusted news sources, exercise, meditate, take on a new hobby and maintain a daily routine. If you are missing social interaction, consider new, “virtual” possibilities—join a yoga class, take a cooking lesson, find a book club or socialize with FEW. However, if you need additional support during this challenging time, make an appointment to speak with a medical professional.

Tip #4: Run errands safely
When heading to the grocery store or running essential errands, disinfect the handles of your cart or basket before shopping. If possible, do your errands during off hours—early in the day or later in the evening. While shopping, maintain a safe distance from others, preferably six feet apart and only touch items you plan to purchase. Of course, wear your mask, pay using a touchless method that doesn’t require a card, money or touching a keypad. Be sure to sanitize your hands when you are finished shopping. Once you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Then wash them again after putting away your items. When possible, take advantage of online ordering or curbside pickup.

Tip #5: Stay safe at home
Although COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces, there are several ways to keep your home free from germs. Clean high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, countertops, phone screens and bathroom surfaces) daily by cleaning the surfaces with soap and water and then using an EPA-registered household disinfectant. A recent study found that the coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours and live on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours and plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

Although you are likely taking every precaution to stay safe at home and in public, it is a good idea to plan ahead in case someone in your household becomes infected. If possible, the sick person should be isolated to a separate room and bathroom.

For more information, visit few.org.

A wish for holiday joy and a season of care and prosperity.

from Federally Employed Women

As we enter this holiday season, my wish is that we all have a spirit of joy and happiness and remember what is most important to all of us – people.  As 2020 draws to a close most of us are in the midst of preparations for the season’s festivities, I hope that you will share yourself as gift of love and compassion with our government community, family and friends by practicing social distancing.   I wish you health this holiday season and a break from the hustle and bustle of our everyday working schedules.  I urge each and every one of us to reflect on these special moments and savor the relationships that we have nurtured to cherish over the years.

Being elected as National President of Federally Employed Women for a second term is by far the highest honor of my professional career and one of the most astounding. At the same time, this year has been one of some sadness as we have lost a number of wonderful members in our community and also some dear friends are going through some difficult situations within their family environments. While keeping with the spirit of this joyous time, it is equally important to take a few moments and recall these other events and keep these people in our thoughts and our prayers.  FEW cares and believes you will soar again.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Administration staff of the CMA for the tremendous effort they put in day in and day out to make sure that our members are well looked after. Many of us do not see all the demands placed on our office, but their work is greatly appreciated.   I know that the small investment in transitioning our office with CMA will lead FEW into a bright and new future.

To the National Board members, I thank them for their dedication to the success of the FEW and for their tremendous input to the proper governance of our organization. I also wish to acknowledge the participation of our Regions and Chapters membership.  You have committed endless hours of volunteer time to make sure our members are provided with opportunities to continue learning, to network and socialize with other credit professionals for opportunities in career advancement and pay equity.

Lastly, to everyone invested with FEW, my sincere appreciation for your support of FEW and the pride you demonstrate each day at representing this elite organization “Working for the advancement of women in the government”. You are the source of the strength of FEW and make my job satisfying and easy.  My wish is for you is a holiday season exceptionally good and safe and that the New Year brings you much health, happiness and prosperity.

Karen Rainey

President

Happy Thanksgiving

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to you this holiday season. Although this is an abnormal holiday season, FEW celebrate all of us for endurance, strength and capacity to love through laughter and cheer from this holiday season. Our nation is still strong because of you and our heroes — the healthcare workers, teachers, parents and other essential personnel we will get through this pandemic.

This is a time when I personally want to express how sincerely thankful I am to the FEW membership for your support of the precious organization. I am so proud of our activities and actions this year. Members of FEW has uplifted our mission and you have represented the best of our federally employed community. Truly, I recognize your dedication to our mission and appreciate the work you do to allow women to soar to new heights for women for years to come.  

FEW is sending you and your family my best wishes for a happy, healthy Thanksgiving, Stay Safe

Karen Rainey, President

.

Stay vigilant to protect yourself and others against COVID-19

As we see increases in COVID-19 rates across the country, I want to take a moment to remind you that we all in this together and the cure can only happen when all of participate. I want to encourage you to remain vigilant in your efforts to protect yourself – not just in the workplace, but also at home, your neighborhood and as you go about your day-to-day activities. We all rely on you to protect yourself, your family and your entire community. We need you to do your part to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

As the colder weather approaches in many parts of the nation, it’s important to ensure we continue to follow the critical safety guidelines including washing your hands, sanitizing high-touch areas, wearing a face covering and remaining socially distanced. With the onset of flu season, the CDC advises you to know the difference in the symptoms and provides guidance on how to protect yourself and others.
.
As we closely monitor developments in our nation and in our agencies, FEW remain confident that we are on the verge of a remediation to the global pandemic. We remain in close contact with local authorities to ensure we not only meet, but where possible also exceed all the various safety protocols related to COVID-19. When concerns arise, FEW will take appropriate action for all of our safety.

I urge you to stay strong, and together we will continue to overcome this challenge and help people across the nation. Below is a link to the latest CDC information to help keep you informed of rates in the United States at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html. There are many resources available as well. Please visit our national partner, FEEA website at https://feea.org/coronavirus/ for more options of support.

It is important to me that you know FEW is here for you and willing to help. We thank you for all that you do to allow us to keep “Soaring to New Heights.”

We honor our Veterans! Happy Veterans Day – November 11

In honor of the millions of veterans who have served our nation with honor, dignity and pride; for all of the sacrifices you’ve made for a grateful nation and for the assurances of safety we live each day because you are there, Federally Employed Women salute you and say “Thank you.” 

Veterans Day is a national holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I, on November 11, to honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The military has five branches. In simple terms, the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the five-armed service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy.  Veterans Day replaced Armistice Day in 1954. This holiday is important to all of us, and FEW proudly celebrate with you and your families.  We thank all veterans for protecting our freedom and our way of life in what we believe to be the greatest land.

This holiday is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month

Federally Employed Women proudly recognizes Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month. The 2020 National theme is Sovereignty is Sacred:  Sharing Our Rights & Cultures. 

One of earliest recorded attempts to create a day of recognition for the contributions of “First Americans” dates back to 1912, when Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca Nation), who founded several Indian rights organizations, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to recognize “First Americans” Day, which they did for three years.   The first American Indian Day was celebrated in New York, May 1916. The effort was led by a member of the Blackfeet Nation, Red Fox James, who rode across the nation on horseback seeking approval from 24 state governments to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating the month of November “National American Indian Heritage Month.” 

Special observances such as Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month were designed for the purpose of providing cultural awareness to everyone. The month of November has been designated to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and to acknowledge the important contributions of America’s indigenous people.  Commemorative activities conducted for special observance months should be educational and inclusive.  As the National theme suggests, autonomy is extremely important to Native Americans, but it is also very important for us to help them preserve traditions and share their history and culture. Connection to history is essential because it establishes a sense of identity and belonging.  There is so much that we can learn from Native American’s deep respect for the earth and harmony with nature, the cycle of all living things, and the love and respect for family and community.

There are many resources available to find programs and activities.  The Society of American Indian Government Employees is a constant resource throughout the year.  During the month of November, Saige will be hosting several virtual programs and commemorative events.  Please visit www.saige.org and share the events with your chapter/region members.

Also during the month, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. 

Please check out https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/ for a calendar of events


About the Artist: Timothy Tate NEVAQUAYA

Timothy Tate Nevaquaya is a Comanche and Chickasaw/Choctaw artist, veteran, and minister from Apache, Oklahoma. The son of the late Comanche master artist and flutist, Doc Tate Nevaquaya and his wife Charlotte Foraker-Nevaquaya, Timothy’s art career began at the foot of his father’s drafting table, as a child. His early education included receiving direction from his father in the basic fundamentals of Native American art
forms, as well as flute making. These early experiences began his dance with Native American art, Native American flute, and Native American history and culture with a strong emphasis on Comanche history. As a youth, he was witness to some of the greatest Southern Plains and other Native American artists from his father’s contemporary circle of friends and colleagues. He has been a part of the reemergence of the Native American flute culture. As a young man, he participated in many of his father’s lectures and demonstrations on the flute. At age 12, he began to compose music on his father’s flutes; at age 14 he began making the flutes.

Early in his career, he immersed himself in the history of the Comanche people through independent studies. He began painting in the flat two-dimensional style reminiscent of the Southern Plains artists before him. As time went along he transitioned into a western American realism style. After many years of hard work and devotion to his art, it was in 2007, that he found his signature style, which can be characterized as, “an accident
on the canvas.” This happy mistake is where the door opened up and led to a great revelation in his artwork and in thought, and which changed the course of his life and his work. After working tirelessly on an Apache Mountain spirit piece at his home studio one night, he smudged the paints on his canvas, which created, “a happy accident.” “I remember smacking the canvas with my paintbrush and it was loaded with paint. I became incredibly frustrated, but through this mistake is when that great door opened up. I saw a different and abstract appearance in my work.” So began the journey with Nevaquaya’s latest style, which is his personal expression of movement and form in contemporary Native American art.

Nevaquaya has performed and shown his work in places such as the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, The Gilcrease Museum of Western Art, The Philbrook Museum, the Oklahoma Governor’s Ball, the Oklahoma State Capitol, The University of Oklahoma, The Great Plains Museum, the Southern Plains Museum, the Comanche Museum other places. He owns and operates Nevaquaya Fine Arts: A Legacy Gallery in Tulsa, OK and makes his home in Apache, Eagletown, and Tulsa Oklahoma
with his sons.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast cancer quotes - Courage doesn't always roar

Each October, Federally Employed Women (FEW) take time to acknowledge the men and women whose lives are affected by breast cancer and brings awareness to our community to to defeat breast cancer in so many lives. We know that 2.4% of women in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. This makes breast cancer the most common cancer among women, besides skin cancer. In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.  And, men in 2018, there were about 2,550 new cases of breast cancer.

But what is most important to FEW is that we make sure you are aware of what breast cancer is and that you know your body and check often for changes. Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast. A breast is made up of three main parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. The lobules are the glands that produce milk. The ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple. The connective tissue (which consists of fibrous and fatty tissue) surrounds and holds everything together. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules.

We know that early detection can be the difference in saving lives.  Many of the most important risk factors for breast cancer are beyond our control, such as age, family history, and medical history. However, there are some risk factors you can control, such as weight, physical activity, and alcohol consumption.  Your health is a major factor in the well-being of your entire family.  Thus, FEW want to acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness Month by reminding everyone to use self-examination to fight against breast cancer and we support a healthy schedule of mammograms with your doctor based on your family history and risk factors.