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THE BIRTH OF AN IDEA IS CHEERED

A grass-roots movement touched off by a newspaper columnist in Los Angeles is turning up pay dirt for Planned Parenthood.

Chat rooms across the Internet were abuzz after Los Angeles Times writer Patt Morrison ended her Jan. 26 column by announcing that she was making a donation to Planned Parenthood in honor of President Bush as a Presidents' Day gift to him.

Morrison had devoted the column to an attack on Bush for reinstituting the global "gag rule" on family planning when he cut off foreign aid funding to any agency that offers abortion or abortion counseling or referral.

People who agreed with her have been contacting the Planned Parenthood Web site at the rate of 900 to 1,000 a day, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America which will be sending at least 15,000 gift cards to the White House from $500,000 in donations received so far.

Planned Parenthood of Buffalo and Erie County has had about 20 responses for direct donations and several calls from people seeking to contact the national organization. Amy White, director of communications, said those callers are referred to the national's e-mail or Web site. The local branch is accepting donations at its Main Street office or by phone.

While the local office is treating them as routine gift donations and will send a simple card stating the donor's name and reason for the gift, the national organization has turned the idea into a Presidents' Day campaign to "send a message" to President Bush and has some suggestions on how the gift card should read.

To contribute locally, supporters may call 831-2200. To join the national campaign, check out www.plannedparenthood.org/donate.

Diane Christian, distinguished teaching professor in the University at Buffalo English department, will speak on "Gender Myths: Sacred Stories of Sex, Difference and Dominance" Thursday at 4 p.m. in Center for the Arts on the North Campus. She will be giving the third annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture sponsored by the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender and will discuss ideas on male/female relationships found in Genesis, Darwin and the primal myth of the Dogon people of West Africa.

YWCA Western New York's 2001 Institute for Public Leadership will be held April 28 and 29 in the downtown facility, 190 Franklin St. The 10-year-old program to train women aspiring to elective office has graduated 332 women, 30 of whom have won elections. The program also provides training for women who want to manage or work on political campaigns.

The institute's influence stretches throughout Erie County and graduates can be found in the state assembly, Erie County Legislature, Buffalo Common Council, as town supervisors, on town, village and school boards and on the bench. The program provides ongoing networking and training workshops for its graduates.

There is a $120 fee for YW members and $150 for non-members. Scholarships are available. Registration forms can be obtained at YW branches.

YWCA of Niagara will present its Niagara Award to an individual or business in recognition of efforts to advance the status of women at a luncheon June 8 in Niagara County Community College, Sanborn. At the same time, the YW will give scholarships to women who are continuing their education in college or technical schools. You can donate to the scholarship or obtain an application form by calling 433-6741 or visit www.webess.com. Deadline for applications is March 1.

Everywoman Opportunity Center is again looking for nominations for its Award of Excellence. Three or four women who "have been path finders, risk takers and role models for other women" will be selected for recognition at Everywoman's 17th annual dinner May 10 in Radisson Hotel. Call 847-1120 for nomination forms or visit www.everywoman.org.

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