“Women’s Council Sees LDS Welfare at Work,” Ensign, Feb. 1984, 79
For the first time in its one-hundred-year history, the executive board of the National Council of Women held its monthly meeting in Salt Lake City.
As part of their activities, board members saw how Church members help themselves through LDS welfare programs and through individual preparedness.
At the invitation of Elaine Cannon, Young Women general president and vice-president of the National Council, the board visited the city in November for four days of meetings and presentations focused on improving the lives of people everywhere through personal preparedness. Nancy Barker, president of the Council, set the tone for the meetings, referring to the Church’s heritage as she said, “We are still today pioneer women dedicated to improving the world.”
When they visited Welfare Square, Bishop H. Burke Peterson, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, joined the council members to explain how Church welfare programs help people help themselves. He pointed out that certain basic needs must be met before people can be taught to help themselves or to make Christian principles part of their everyday lives. It is impossible to teach people “about the Master and what he stood for” if they are shivering in the cold or aching with physical hunger, he said.
During the Salt Lake City activities, Sister Cannon, acting in her role as vice-president of the International Council, outlined a plan designed to improve “the physical conditions of homes and the health and well-being of families throughout the world.” She will report on it formally at meetings of the International Council of Women this spring in Germany.
The plan, in the form of a booklet called “A Network of Women: Personal Preparedness Across the World,” responds to the International Council’s concerns for children, water, shelter, food, health, sanitation, and personal peace. It calls for selecting a critical need, giving support to existing programs dealing with that need, locating specialists in the appropriate field, and assigning these specialists to teach local women leaders how to teach their communities.
“This is a capsule program to teach how women can organize themselves to help other women in personal preparedness,” Sister Cannon said. “The concept of networking among women in home economics is exciting.”
During their stay, members of the executive board attended workshops demonstrating several successful Church preparedness programs. In a session at Brigham Young University, John M. Hill, associate professor of food science and nutrition, and Mary Ellen Edmunds, assistant director of special training for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, showed how education and problem-solving programs have improved conditions in other countries. Brother Hill noted that education is the critical factor in improving the quality of life; too often, he said, children and adults in underdeveloped countries die of food and vitamin deficiency, infections, and other sicknesses simply because the parents are unskilled in nutrition or are untrained in recognizing and curing sicknesses.
He also told of the success of several programs which have used doctors, nurses, and many volunteers to help implement improvements in villages of underdeveloped countries. “We always go to their local leaders to ask them if they would feel good about using our program,” Brother Hill said. “Then, with their support and help, we begin to train the people.”
Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Public Communications Department of the Church, addressed the board members at a dinner in their honor. He spoke on the need for greater commitment in helping others and for greater personal responsibility in meeting one’s own needs. He also explained the purpose of the Thrasher Foundation, organized in 1977 to support research and projects which promote the health and well-being of children.
Board members also had time to enjoy some of Salt Lake’s LDS heritage. Their activities included a Tabernacle Choir broadcast and a tour of Temple Square conducted by Elder Marion D. Hanks of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Salt Lake Temple. They also attended a reception held in celebration of the 114th anniversary of the Young Women’s organization and toured the Relief Society building.
The Relief Society and the Young Women organizations have been part of the National Council of Women since it was first chartered.