Bethune-Height Recognition Program

NCNW Section Members from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut established the Mary Mcleod Bethune Recognition Program in 1974.  This is a fundraising event to raise money for the National organization and to honor Dr. Dorothy I. Height.  This program was modeled after Hadassah, an organization established in 1912 in New York City by Henrietta Szold and the daughters of Zion, a women's study group who raised funds to establish the first medical school in Palestine.


Members who raise $300 or more in support of National are called ‘Bethune Achievers’.  Members can also achieve as a Life Member or a Legacy Life Member by raising $500 or $1,000, respectively.


Esther McCall served as the National Chair at the inception of this prestigious program, having been appointed to her post by our beloved Dr. Dorothy Irene Height.  Ms. McCall helped facilitate the renaming of the program to the Bethune/Height Recognition Program (‘BHRP’) following Dr. Height's passing on April 20, 2010.  The renaming of the program was to honor Dr. Height’s life-long contribution and commitment NCNW.


When Ms. McCall passed over on August 23, 2013, Ingrid Saunders Jones, our National Chair, appointed Dawna Michelle Fields as Chair of the Bethune/Height Recognition Program.   She was charged with reviewing the policies and procedures of BHRP.  As this program is so important, Ms. Fields requested a Co-chair to raise the execution of BHRP to the highest level.  Therefore, our National Chair appointed New York State Convener and former Member-at-Large, Mrs. Johnnie Walker as Co-chair of BHRP.  Mrs. Walker will serve with Ms. Fields to enhance the level of the BHRP program and they will work together to finalize the handbook revisions and oversee BHRP implementation.



Members of the 39 community based sections of NCNW sponsor this annual fundraising celebration in 17 states:  California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and the Mid-Atlantic Regions.

12 Simple Steps to an Estate Plan


A checklist to help you take care of your family by making a will, power of attorney, living will, funeral arrangements, and more.


By Mary Randolph, J.D.



1. Make a will.

In a will, you state who you want to inherit your property and name a guardian to care for your young children should something happen to you and the other parent.


2. Consider a trust.

If  you hold your property in a living trust, your survivors won't have to go through probate court, a time-consuming and expensive process.


3. Make health care directives.

Writing out your wishes for health care can protect you if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Health care directives include a health care declaration ("living will") and a power of attorney for health care, which gives someone you choose the power to make decisions if you can't. (In some states, these documents are combined into one, called an advance health care directive.)


4. Make a financial power of attorney.

With a durable power of attorney for finances, you can give a trusted person authority to handle your finances and property if you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. The person you name to handle your finances is called your agent or attorney-in-fact (but doesn't have to be an attorney).


5. Protect your children's property.

You should name an adult to manage any money and property your minor children may inherit from you. This can be the same person as the personal guardian you name in your will.


6. File beneficiary forms.

Naming a beneficiary for bank accounts and retirement plans makes the account automatically "payable on death" to your beneficiary and allows the funds to skip the probate process. Likewise, in almost all states, you can register your stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts to transfer to your beneficiary upon your death.


7. Consider life insurance.

If you have young children or own a house, or you may owe significant debts or estate tax when you die, life insurance may be a good idea.


8. Understand estate taxes.

Most estates -- more than 99.7% -- won't owe federal estate taxes. For deaths in 2016, the federal government will impose estate tax at your death only if your taxable estate is worth more than $5.45 million. (This exemption amount rises each year to adjust for inflation.) Also, married couples can transfer up to twice the exempt amount tax-free, and all assets left to a spouse (as long as the spouse is a U.S. citizen) or tax-exempt charity is exempt from the tax.


9. Cover funeral expenses.

Rather than a funeral prepayment plan, which may be unreliable, you can set up a payable-on-death account at your bank and deposit funds into it to pay for your funeral and related expenses.


10. Make final arrangements.

Make your wishes known regarding organ and body donation and disposition of your body -- burial or cremation.


11. Protect your business.

If you're the sole owner of a business, you should have a succession plan. If you own a business with others, you should have a buyout agreement.


12. Store your documents.

Your attorney-in-fact and/or your executor (the person you choose in your will to administer your property after you die) may need access to the following documents:


     • will


     • trusts


     • insurance policies


     • real estate deeds


     • certificates for stocks, bonds, annuities


     • information on bank accounts, mutual funds, and safe deposit boxes


     • information on retirement plans, 401(k) accounts, or IRAs


     • information on debts: credit cards, mortgages and loans, utilities, and unpaid taxes


       information on funeral prepayment plans, and any final arrangements instructions you have made.




Voter Education


Why is Voting important?



“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”~Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States


In order to gain an understanding of why voting is so important, let’s take a look back at the history of voting rights. Contrary to popular belief, the United States’ Constitution did not originally guarantee citizens the “right to vote”. The United States was created with the understanding that only certain individuals would make the decisions when it came to government.


There are several amendments to the U.S. Constitution which address the right to vote and who actually has this “right”.


• 14th Amendment – All persons born within the U.S. are citizens and guaranteed rights and privileges (1868) There are several amendments to the U.S. Constitution which address the right to vote and who actually has this “right”.




15th Amendment – No citizen denied the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude(1870)


This amendment was intended to give freed slaves the same privileges offered to the white majority in the United States. States were able to get around this amendment by creating Jim Crow Laws and other barriers to prevent minorities from voting.


Jim Crow Laws were requirements for individuals to pass in order to become eligible to vote. These included:


Literacy tests- These tests excluded under-educated Americans from voting. This was specifically focused towards African Americans.


Grandfather Clauses- A requirement which said if your grandfather was eligible to vote, then you are eligible to vote. This would exclude many African Americans whose ancestors were not eligible to vote because of slavery.


Poll Taxes- A fee would be required to vote. The intention is to stop lower income citizens from having a voice in government.


As you can see, the 15th Amendment did not accomplish what it had originally intended. Minorities still did not share equal rights when it came to voting in the United States.



• 19th Amendment - No citizen shall be abridged of their right to vote based on sex (1920).


This amendment gave women the right to vote.


Generations of women worked tirelessly to gain suffrage. This is by far one of the most important amendments to the Constitution when it comes to voting, because it gave the right to vote to half of the population of the United States. If you are a female and reading this document, you have/will have the right to vote because a battle was fought for you in history.


From protesting and picketing to large rallies, women ignored the resistance of opponents who many times verbally and physically assaulted them. Decades of protest and the will of women to never give up paid off, and today women can register and vote for the issues which they feel strongly about.



• 24th Amendment – No poll tax is allowed or failure to pay any other tax shall prevent a person from voting (1964)


This amendment eliminated some of the Jim Crow laws which were a result of the 15th Amendment.



• 26th Amendment – All persons 18 or older shall not be abridged of their right to vote (1971)


This amendment was passed in 1971 after 11 unsuccessful attempts by U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph (D), WV. Senator Randolph was from Harrison County, W.V. Randolph originally introduced the bill during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives.


The Vietnam War brought up the topic of why can 18 year olds fight and die for our country, yet they are not eligible to vote for the members of congress who send them overseas.


 The amendment was also passed very quickly, because it was considered politically dangerous to be against giving troops the rights they deserved during the upcoming election in 1972. The potential for an opponent to rally voters against a candidate were too strong, not to support the amendment.


This amendment is the reason why eighteen year olds and seventeen year olds who will be eighteen by the date of the next General Election are eligible to vote. Seventeen year olds are not permitted to vote in municipal or special elections however.



• Voting Rights Act of 1965

Applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on the literacy tests on a nationwide basis.


Finally the barriers to vote were lifted for minorities.




HIV/AIDS Prevention


What is HIV and AIDS?



    • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s the virus that causes HIV infection.


     • AIDS means Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.


     • HIV is transmitted (spread) through the blood, semen, genital fluids, or breast milk of a person infected with HIV. Having unprotected sex or sharing needles and syringes with a person infected with HIV are the most common ways HIV is transmitted.


      • An infected person can have different amounts of the HIV virus in his or her blood. The amount of HIV in an infected person’s blood is called the viral load.



How HIV Works


     • Your body has a type of white blood cell called a CD4+ T-helper cell (also called T-cell or CD4 cell). CD4 cells protect you from infection. They are a big part of your immune system. HIV destroys these cells.


     • When HIV has killed too many CD4 cells, your body can no longer fight off certain infections. These infections are called opportunistic infections.


     • When HIV-1 enters a healthy CD4+T-cell in the blood, it takes over the “machinery” of the cell to make more copies of itself. This process is called the HIV life cycle.



Symptoms of HIV


Early Stages


Some people may experience a flu-like illness within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection. But some people may not feel sick during this stage.


Flu-like symptoms can include:


     • Fever


     • Chills


     • Rash


     • Night sweats


     • Muscle aches


     • Sore throat


     • Fatigue


     • Swollen lymph nodes


     • Mouth ulcers


These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV infection may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others.


You should not assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. And some people who have HIV do not show any symptoms at all for 10 years or more.


If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test. Most HIV tests detect antibodies (proteins your body makes as a reaction against the presence of HIV), not HIV itself. But it takes a few weeks for your body to produce these antibodies, so if you test too early, you might not get an accurate test result. A new HIV test is available that can detect HIV directly during this early stage of infection. So be sure to let your testing site know if you think you may have been recently infected with HIV.


After you get tested, it’s important to find out the result of your test so you can talk to your health care provider about treatment options if you’re HIV-positive or learn ways to prevent getting HIV if you’re HIV-negative.


You are at high risk of transmitting HIV to others during the early stage of HIV infection, even if you have no symptoms. For this reason, it is very important to take steps to reduce your risk of transmission.


Clinical Latency Stage


After the early stage of HIV infection, the disease moves into a stage called the clinical latency stage (also called “chronic HIV infection”). During this stage, HIV is still active but reproduces at very low levels. People with chronic HIV infection may not have any HIV-related symptoms, or only mild ones.


For people who aren’t taking medicine to treat HIV (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), this period can last a decade or longer, but some may progress through this phase faster. People who are taking medicine to treat HIV the right way, every day may be in this stage for several decades because treatment helps keep the virus in check. (Read more about HIV treatment.)


It’s important to remember that people can still transmit HIV to others during this phase even if they have no symptoms, although people who are on ART and stay virally suppressed (having a very low level of virus in their blood) are much less likely to transmit HIV than those who are not virally suppressed.


Progression to AIDS


If you have HIV and you are not on ART, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system and you will progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), the late stage of HIV infection.


Symptoms can include:


     • Rapid weight loss


     • Recurring fever or profuse night sweats


     • Extreme and unexplained tiredness


     • Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the      armpits, groin, or neck


     • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week


     • Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals


     • Pneumonia


     • Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids


     • Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.


Each of these symptoms can also be related to other illnesses. So the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.


Many of the severe symptoms and illnesses of HIV disease come from the opportunistic infections that occur because your body’s immune system has been damaged. (Read more about opportunistic infections.)








The Importance of Financial Literacy


Making thoughtful and informed decisions about your finances is more important than ever. Several trends are converging that demonstrate the importance of financial literacy:


     1. More and more, the burden of making sound financial decisions is coming to rest on the shoulders of consumers. Many companies have shifted their retirement plans from traditional pension plans to those requiring employees to participate in, pay part of the cost for, and make investment decisions about. 401(k) plans are the best example of this.


     2. Social Security used to be seen as a major source, if not the major source, of retirement income. Now it serves more like a safety net that will provide enough only for survival, not enjoyment.


     3. We are living longer. This means that we must have accumulated more funds before retirement to cover living expenses over a longer time. Otherwise, we could become a burden for our families.


     4. The financial environment seems like it is changing faster. Bull markets, bear markets, rising interest rates, falling interest rates and the increased number of finance-related articles with conflicting views in the press can make creating and following a financial path difficult.


     5. There are more financial options. Hundreds of credit card options, several types of mortgages, different types of IRAs, and the ever-growing number of investment options further complicate financial decision making.


     6. There are more choices of financial services companies. Banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, insurance firms, credit card companies, mortgage companies, financial planners and others are all trying to get your business.


     7. The numbers themselves seem to have gotten larger. Costs and wages have generally continued to rise to the point where having an income or retirement nest egg that several years ago would have seemed luxurious, now just seems barely adequate.



Taken together, many people today are feeling a high level of financial anxiety and are looking for answers. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees or easy answers. However, there are several things you can consider to help relieve your financial anxiety.




     1. Be as informed as you can be about your finances. After all, you are the one who is going to have to live with your decisions.


     2. Try to find a financial institution or financial advisor that is knowledgeable, that you can trust, and with whom you can work comfortably. They cannot make all your decisions, but they should be able to help you put your situation into perspective and help you evaluate your options.


     3. Try to develop good financial habits. Just paying attention to how you spend your money will probably lead to some ideas about how to save more. Over time, your savings can make a large difference in your future financial lifestyle.


     4. Do the easy things. Participating in your company’s retirement plan, contributing to an IRA, starting to save early for a college education, enrolling for direct deposit of your paycheck, and using some form of automatic saving plan will help you accumulate funds. In addition, you will know you are taking positive actions.


     5. Try to develop a financial plan of some sort. It does not have to be complicated or extensive. In fact, you may want to tackle one part of your finances at a time, such as looking at all your insurance needs. Breaking up a financial plan into smaller, workable pieces can make it easier to create.



Final Words


It is never too early or too late to improve your financial literacy.  In fact, if you avoid major mistakes and do some of the most basic things, you may find yourself on the road to controlling your financial future with significantly less financial anxiety.


Sources:: Branch Banking and Trust Company, Member FDIC.


The information provided is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. BB&T cannot guarantee that it is accurate, up to date, or appropriate for your situation. You should consult with a qualified attorney or financial advisor to understand how the law applies to your particular circumstances or for financial information specific to your personal or business situation.




57th National Convention



The National Convention is a legislative assembly that meets every 2 years to conduct it's business according to the bylaws and Robert's Rules of Order.  It is open to NCNW members of NCNW's affiliate organizations and invited guests.





• Review national and local issues


• Determine NCNW's direction and goals


• Review and approve amendments to the Bylaws


• Review and approve Policy


• Elect National officers



Voting Delegates are as follows:


• Each affiliate is entitled to have 5 voting delegates.


• Each section in good standing is entitled to have 3 voting delegates.


• Every Life and Legacy Life Member may attend as a voting delegate with a full vote.


• Members, Associate member and friends attend as visiting delegates.


New Jersey State Steering Committee  |  National Council of Negro Women, Inc.  |  P.O. Box 257 |  Rahway, New Jersey 07065  |  E-mail: