The living room was filled with laughter, inquiries on each other’s health and well-being and book recommendations as three members of Women Transcending Boundaries met to talk about the organization. Jennifer Roberts Crittenden, a Catholic woman, Saro Kumar, a Hindu woman, and Jeanette Powell, a Jewish woman are all members of the book club.
While they all come from different backgrounds, their constant smiles as they spoke about WTB are the same.
Jennifer Roberts Crittenden, Secretary for WTB
Roberts Crittenden joined WTB about six years ago and she said she loves all that WTB offers. Her main project now is the sewing class with some refugee women at the Center for New Americans. At the class they teach the women how to sew the “American way” using patterns and a sewing machine. Before the sewing class she went to the center to help teach the refugee women English, along with a few other members of WTB. Their methods for teaching the refugees English earned them the nickname of the “The Hokey Pokey Ladies” because of their use of the song to help the women learn.
Every member has certain things they’re passionate about. “Every new person that comes to WTB has changed its direction.” Some of the programs she hopes will continue through the years are the Acts of Kindness Weekend and the book club.
She said she has gained friendship and intellectual stimulation from WTB. The organization has introduced her to new things. “All of us are able to expand beyond WTB, because of WTB."
Saro Kumar, council member
Kumar, who grew up in a diverse, cosmopolitan area, was drawn to WTB because she read about the different backgrounds of its members. “I read about so many religions involved in it and I said, ‘this sounds like my kind of thing,’” she said. “And I never looked back.” Kumar joined WTB about two years ago once she stopped working and her children moved out.
She also said she loves everything about WTB. One project she enjoys in addition to the book club is the community garden she works on with some refugees. “Working with the refugees has been eye opening,” she said. Some of the vegetation she thought were weeds were considered vegetables by the refugees. From the garden she has also witnessed the networking WTB uses, where people have projects they want to put into action and others will contribute goods or services.
Kumar said she has gained “camaraderie and intellectual richness” from the organization. “There’s no limit to learning. It’s been so educational.”
Jeanette Powell, an original member, a past council member and member of the advisory board
Powell became involved with WTB because she enjoyed the idea of women of different backgrounds coming together to talk and learn from each other. “We came together to talk and we haven’t shut up since,” she said. The women are able to discuss complex issues and still remain friends. She noticed that if there is disagreement it often happens among women of different denominations of the same religion. “It’s learning with a capital L,” she said.
While she said her favorite thing changes with her mood, Powell, an avid reader, said she really enjoys the book club, where she reads books she normally wouldn’t. The book club reads a book a month. They switch between different styles, such as memoirs, novels and essays, and cultures or religions. They compile a list of books throughout the year and then as a group decide what the year’s reading list will be. The book must also be available at the public library, so members of the club don’t have to buy a copy.
As one of the original members, she has been able to watch the group change over the years. “It keeps evolving.”