Sale CWA branch 90 years young

THE Country Women’s Association’s Sale branch turned 90 recently, one of the oldest in the state.

The CWA itself is only 90 years old.

The North Gippsland group got together to celebrate, with the fanciest of cakes, and dignitaries including the deputy state president, Marion Dewar.

Sale’s branch president, Lesley Stergiopoulos, said the branch was going from strength to strength.

“We have a pop-in shop where members can sell their wares, and through the shop we have also gained new members,” she said.

“We try to achieve and help the community where help is needed — it’s a good environment for women to mix, learn, and support each other.”

Ms Dewar echoed these sentiments, adding the CWA had a proud history of going “everywhere” to help out — Queensland branches are helping out with distribution of drought relief, for example.

“We do everything because we believe women and children and families need support, and communities are worth supporting,” she said.

“Ninety years is a long time for an organisation in one town to keep going, and you have to consider that over the years there have been women that have pulled the branch through perhaps difficult times.

“It brings community together to work for the benefit of the community, and at the same time, we have fun, a bit of self-development, education, and all of those things that volunteers get back from volunteering.”

There’s also a focus on bringing in younger members, and flexible groups like Starlight branches, which run at night, have made the CWA more appealing for working people.

Traditional events like country shows, including the Royal Melbourne Show, and art exhibitions are also popular, and have helped sustain numbers — there’s not a person alive that could refuse a CWA scone.

Ms Stergiopoulos, who’s been in the Sale branch for nine years, said she had gained a lot.

“I’ve learnt to become a little independent, and one of the community,” she said.

“I’ve become stronger in myself, and this is the first event where I’ve done public speaking — it’s given me the courage to step forward.

“Come to the shop on a Friday and have a cup of tea and learn about us.

“It’s fun day — we have lots of laughs,” she said.