Women#039;s Club gives back to community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

PROCTORVILLE - When a New York City reporter and other women were turned away from an all-male N.Y. Press Club banquet 136 years ago, the spurned reporter vowed to create a club exclusively for women.

In 1890, Jane Cunningham Croly, who wrote under a pen name of Jennie June, succeeded with her plans and organized a club with membership given solely to women. The club was called Sorosis - a Greek word that means "an aggregation; a sweet flower of many fruits."

Sorosis was chartered by Congress in 1901 and became the General Federation of Women's Clubs. GFWC is the oldest and largest women's volunteer service club in the world with 6,500 clubs in the U.S. and worldwide membership of approximately one million.

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Locally, the 37-member Proctorville Woman's Club is affiliated with the Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs in the Central Ohio River District. The club was federated in 1926 and celebrated its 75th anniversary three years ago according to Wanda Gillette, a long-standing club member and publicity chairman.

GFWC women were instrumental in starting libraries across the nation. Clubs worked together to enforce child labor and prison laws. The women have an extensive history and ongoing involvement in civil and political concerns.

Six main areas the GFWC and the Proctorville club focus on are the arts, education, conservation, home life, international affairs and public affairs.

Gillette feels the national motto, "Unity in Diversity" is about flexibility.

"It means what it says - the clubs across the country are unified with common goals but diverse to each state and down to each neighborhood we serve," she said.

According to President Sharon Lett, important, ongoing club goals are to ensure both libraries and schools get books and to raise public awareness about organ/tissue donation.

Other local projects include sewing for a local hospital, an ongoing aluminum can recycling venture for conservation contributions, poster/essay contests and providing a third-grade newsletter called Kindness.

A club committee will soon be organized to pick a Fairland senior to receive a college scholarship.

"The student must have a 3.5 grade point average, but they will also need to have strong community and volunteer ties," Lett said.

After Tuesday night's meeting, club members conducted a workshop to decorate plain hats and transform them into spring bonnets to give to residents in area care/rehabilitative facilities.

Elected club officers serve a two-year term which changes every other May. Soon, Mary Stephens of South Point will take over the reins of the clubs' presidency. Meetings are held the second Tuesday each month at the club's building located at State Route 7 and State Route 243 near the fairgrounds.

Gillette encourages all women to join. Any interested women may contact any current club member or write to: The Proctorville Woman's Club, P.O. Box 1236, Proctorville, Ohio 45669.