The NFPW conference is just around the corner, and I can’t wait! In addition to the great workshops, the awards and the networking, it’s an opportunity to catch up with friends. I’m always amazed and humbled by the members.
One member, Marlene Cook, is as excited today as she was 40 years ago, to win an award. She recently posted to Facebook, “Holy cow! Just found out I won a first place in the National Federation of Pres Women’s writing contest for a speech I gave at or 60th class reunion. Not bad for the shy kid at Fenger High School who couldn’t speak up in class. Hey, look at me now!!!! Who’d have believed it?”
Those of us who know Marlene would definitely have believed it. That post led me to ask her to share about her career and involvement with NFPW. Of course, before she could do that, she had to do her daily mile walk and finish her deadline for the church newsletter.
NFPW members never gather moss, that’s for sure.
Marlene was a “late bloomer” to journalism starting at age 30 working for the Harvey Tribune as a correspondent and “gossip” columnist. She also joined Illinois Woman’s Press Association and NFPW. In high school, her teacher told her she would never amount to anything. Can you believe that?
But Marlene proved her wrong, in part, because of the support and mentoring of press women. She gathered information from her contacts as PTA president, baseball auxiliary mother, Cub Scout leader, church guild president and anything else involving her children. Her column, “The Tattler,” allowed her to tattle on her children, as well as friends and neighbors.
Her career blossomed and along the way, she wrote about celebrities, presidents and the queen of the Netherlands.
One thing, hasn’t changed – “The rush when I’m recognized as a writer.” Marlene continues to enter the NFPW communications contest and when she wins, she says, “It certainly doesn’t hurt my ego and it has always helped secure jobs.”
NFPW, Marlene says, is a feeling. “It’s a feeling of belonging, of support, of concern, of security and of love.”
“I belong to many organizations and have many friends, but my NFPW friends are special,” she adds. “I’ve traveled to all 50 states and 15 countries, most of them through NFPW or related opportunities. I’ve done things I could never have done on my own. The opportunities are endless.”
“I was a shy, scared, high school educated mom, believing I’d never amount to anything. NFPW gave me confidence enough to fool that teacher and myself,” she says. “I went on to hold every office in IWPA except treasurer, (president for two terms), national conference director, POPPS president and historian. I’ve also written an award-wining book. I guess I was somebody after all!”