Claudia Lewis, Full Circle Art Studio

I joined the Business Women’s Connection in 1990 when I opened my first business at age 34. I was looking for an inexpensive way to get started by connecting and forming friendships with other like-minded women. Over the past 28 years, I estimate I have had the pleasure of getting to know well over 200 women who have passed though BWC, both short-term or long lasting. I guess you could say I belong in the long lasting camp!

Since the beginning, I’ve met women who have lifted me up with their support and some who have even saved my life. Penny, an athletic trainer, joined us in 1993. At the time I was suffering from very poor health and she literally brought me back from the brink. By the time she was done with me, I was sprinting competitively. Then there was Betty Ann, who kept me in the good graces of the IRS. Carole regularly gave me an “Atta Girl” when I needed it most. Allison taught me to sing with confidence. Karelle built my fabulous website and keeps my Mac in check. Jan and Michelle helped me plan some truly amazing trips. Holly has all the best words and shares her magic with the rest of us. Ruth gives me marketing reality checks so I don’t go off half-cocked. Ginger gave me the tools for confidence in the kitchen. Annmarie hounded me until I finished my will. Michele helped me make peace with my filing cabinet. Angela proves time and time again that your Realtor can also be a very good friend. Beck keeps me right with the energy pathways in my body. Jennifer made me a published author. Iris supported my teaching career. In fact, all of our current members have graced my studio for an art class a time or two.

I could go on and on about ways in which BWC members have made a positive impact on my life, and maybe that would explain why it’s a habit I never wish to break. I rarely miss a meeting simply because I love it so. But I think by now, you get the gist.

I think of myself at the group historian because I am the longest continuously active member of the group. At 62 years of age, I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. But I will never forget the time at our annual Christmas party at Chautaugua Dining hall several years ago when we were all laughing so hard that a man at another table came over demanding to know what we were drinking so he could order it too. I remember every gift exchange where there was a civil opening of gifts peppered with some ruthless competition for that bottle of wine. All in good cheer, of course.

I’m sad to say I’ve also suffered some devastating losses during my time at BWC. Just this year, we have lost 5 current and former members to unbeatable health issues. While many good friends have moved away or just moved on, my life has been undeniably better for knowing them. Thank you with all my heart to all my BWC sisters.