The Woman’s Club of Arroyo Grande began in the 1930s when local women began getting together in their living rooms, talking about their families, children, and local happenings.
On April 16, 1937, they had their first formal meeting at the old school on Bridge Street; 150 women came. Sibyl Poyner’s idea as the first president was to do fundraising for the community and to sponsor a country fair. Their initial sponsored event was the first Harvest Festival to honor local farmers in the fall of 1937.
Last fall the Woman’s Club celebrated its 75th anniversary. The club was asked by the city of Arroyo Grande and the current sponsors of the festival to be the grand marshal and walk in the parade.
There was a tremendous participation by the members, who walked, waved banners and helped with judging events. Today there are approximately 100 members of the club, ranging in age from 30-something to 98 years old.
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In 1952 with fundraising money the Woman’s Club bought the building at 211 Vernon St., off West Branch. They now own it in partnership with the city, renting it out to groups.
The Woman’s Club is a nonprofit, philanthropic club designed to promote the general welfare of the community, raising funds for scholarships and local charities.
“We’re most proud of our scholarships we give to young people,” said Suzy Anderson. Tracy Lang Wood added that they average $6,000 a year in scholarships.
The scholarships often go to at-risk or low-income youth with a minimum grade point average and a desire to pursue an education. There are also funds for re-entry programs, such as the Cuesta College nursing re-entry program, for adults returning to school after an absence.
Caroline Blewitt joined the club years ago at age 38. “I wanted to be involved in service to the community,” she said. Blewitt and Rose Scalzo are the fundraisers. “Every penny of what we raise goes back into the Five Cities” and other South County communities, such as Nipomo, she emphasized.
On April 20 is the club’s fundraiser fashion show. Rosa’s Boutique in Pismo Beach is supplying most of the attire, which will be worn by club members. Rosa’s also donates two staff members to help out.
There will be door prizes and a luncheon. The show starts at 11:30 a.m. Advanced reservations are needed. Call Diane at 710-3569.
Each month from September to May the club holds a meeting on the second Friday of the month. It includes either a luncheon or a tea and starts at noon or 1 p.m. Each meeting includes a program, such as floral design, dance or music performers.
A tea will be held at 1 p.m. on May 10 and is the culmination of the fundraisers, disseminating the scholarships to the students, and hearing them read some of their essays.
Guests are always welcome. Said Blewitt: “We work hard and we have fun.”
For more information, go to www.womansclubofarroyogrande.com.