When we moved to the island as a retired couple and Pat became more involved with her local Catholic Church, she joined the CWL (Catholic Women’s League).  The female equivalent of the Knights of Columbus, but without the drinking evenings.  As one of the youngsters in the CWL she was immediately moved into the executive and soon assumed the position as the Treasurer.

You may recall a blog many years ago where I celebrated this position thinking we could enhance our lifestyle by skimming tiny portions of the funds that flowed through.  Not stealing, just a recompense for the hours of executive management of the money.  Well never happened.

In the early years I helped develop an accounting system and despite the thousands of dollars that flow through, it seems that every time the month end balance comes up we have to throw in a nickle or a dime.


The big fund raising activity for the local CWL is the fall bazaar at the church held in mid October.  A one day event where they raise up to $9000 for their donations and activities.  The planning for this event starts in the spring and Pat loses sleep for weeks in advance as she has to organize the cash management.  One reason why we cannot travel in October (the other reason is that the one time we did take a holiday in October we sailed into a Hurricane but that is another story)

Last year on the Sunday after the bazaar, we spent, (and I say we as I was made part of it), sorting and counting and wrapping about $2000 in coins.  Let me say this is more boring than weeding a garden and I declared that Pat had to organize a committee to handle it the following year, which she has.

For the first time I actually visited the bazaar today to see what this is about.  It is a series of tables in the church hall where the CWL ladies sell their baking, their knitting, their crafts and some tables of donated items that you would find at the Sally Ann store.  A big garage sale but without the things that guys would donate or buy.

I am walking through and realize that the thousands of dollars come from the CWL ladies themselves, Gertrude buying baking from Mildred, and Mildred buying a knitted shawl from Edith and Edith buying a set of tea cups donated by Gertrude etc.

The economics just do not seem to work.  For example Pat saved the big peanut butter jars (the plastic 1 litre size)  we used in the last year.  I was assigned the job of cleaning the label off scraping with solvents in the basement.  Eventually they were sterilized and Pat filled with little toys or chocolates to inspire the little kids to buy it.  When I was touring the bazaar the youngest person was 50 and only there for the cheap lunch.

Pat tells me she sold one of the beautiful jars filled with toys and wrapped with ribbon for $2 to an old guy that thought this would make a fine gift for his grandson   The toys themselves cost $4.50, the jar granted free , but the cost of cleaning the jar (by a retired engineer with an MBA) priceless.

How this whole thing works is that Pat, having spent a month in preparation, came home with all the things she bought, which I assume all the other ladies did as well.  We are the proud owner of a big jar of Budgie food.  We do not own, or even know anyone with a budgie.  Pat did, however score big in that she bought a basket of bathing accouterments, bathing salts in glass jars, oils and ointments… a basket that would easily sell for $20 at a store and priced at $3.

This organization really needs a marketing expert to put together a profit plan with pricing and cost guidelines.  I am looking forward to the day when Janine retires, joins the CWL and makes it into a profit organization.

Until then,  it will have to remain the social event that I observed.  A bunch of elder ladies sitting behind their tables having fun and swapping with the other ladies with some funds at the end going to a good cause.  Not particularly efficient, but from what I saw when I visited, they way they want to do it.

Just glad I am not rolling $ thousands in coins tomorrow.