History

On March 9, 1959, twenty-four women, with the encouragement of Mrs. Carlous Long, Jr., met at Bass Haven Lodge, Welaka, to organize the Woman’s Club of Welaka for the purpose of working together for a fuller community life. Mrs. Martha Stockton, Senior Director of District 6, met with the group and assisted in getting the WCW federated with the Florida Federation and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

During the first year, the club was instrumental in obtaining a Juvenile Counselor for Putnam County. A gift of $350.00 from the Carl S. Swisher Foundation, Inc., of Jacksonville, was used to establish a club library. Mrs. Ross Farrens made a gift of a house (converted to a clubhouse), and the land was purchased for $500.00.

In the fall of 1963, FFWC granted permission for the club to become associated with District 5, (the Jacksonville area). Club membership steadily increased to 80 members. When the original clubhouse was deemed unsuitable for further use, the house and the land were sold and the proceeds placed in a building fund. Meetings were held in the homes of members.

In May 1965, a 100΄x 200΄ lot in Welaka was donated to the club by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Combs. The club then purchased the adjacent lot for $800.00. Club members worked diligently towards their goal of a new building. Groundbreaking for the new building was held March 16, 1966, during the terms of Presidents Gladys Dahl and Pearl Harris. The total cost was $15,700.00 and the debt was paid off by May 1969.

Members purchased property adjacent to the clubhouse on May 8, 1988 for $12,000.00. The mortgage was paid in full August 28, 1989, during President Emily Jarrell’s tenure.

From 1990 to 1992, major improvements and the beautification of the clubhouse occurred, including a new AC/heating system. Improvements totaled $10,757.86. In 1992, members voted to rent the clubhouse on a limited basis; recognized Gladys Dahl and Pearl Harris as Honorary Lifetime Members; and officially named the scholarship fund the “Pearl Harris Scholarship Fund.”

The crafts club received their 6th consecutive silver tray for most blue ribbons in the 1993 District 4 Arts and Crafts Festival. The Club’s first entry in the FFWC State Scrapbook competition won a blue ribbon. Las Vegas Night was launched as a fund-raiser. The name of the club was officially changed to GFWC Woman’s Club of Welaka; the GFWC road sign was added to the site signs at the city limits.

In 1994, additional storage space was added to the clubhouse for the craft club and library; new carpeting was purchased and the Town of Welaka water system hook-up was completed. The Club’s first entry in the FFWC State Press Book Competition took first place honors.

During the next two years (1994-96), the inauguration of a new fund-raiser, Operation 500, helped finance major exterior repairs and improvements to the clubhouse: a new roof, white vinyl siding, a new refrigerator, and china service for 96. The kitchen was refurbished and a member donated a second stove.

In 1997, a new message board was purchased and erected in front of the clubhouse. Marie Schulmeister, Garden Club Chair, launched an informative newsletter for garden club members – Green Fingers.

A board game (using Welaka landmarks) similar to the famous Monopoly game debuted as a fund raiser.

In 1998, during President Joyce Depre’s term, the family and friends of Emily Jarrell donated In memoriam, a new reception desk with chair, as well as 100 new chairs for the clubhouse. The following year of her term marked the 40th anniversary for our club.

The library housed in the clubhouse and operated by volunteers from Welaka Woman’s Club serves our community. In 2000, Bill and Linda Gates of the Microsoft Corporation donated two Gateway personal computers for public use. That same year, club members conducted guided tours of the Art Train on display in Palatka.

In February 2001, a tour bus loaded with members of District 4 journeyed to Boggy Creek Camp to tour the facility. Each child at camp received an afghan, crocheted by members of our Crafts Club.

In March 2001, the newly created District 4 Chorus (including President Jo Bryant, Gail Kerce and June Welsh), gave a debut performance at the District Arts and Crafts Festival. That same month, our club entered walkers in the Putnam County March of Dimes and won 1st place for our spirit station.

In 2002, during President Gail Kerce’s term, our club marched in the Welaka Christmas parade for the first time. Members again visited Boggy Creek Camp in March 2003, and presented the children with 126 afghans, 95 of which were made by member Cathy Moses. Lap quilts, made by Jacky Branam, were given to residents of Five Oaks Nursing Home. The Home Life Department, chaired by Margie Feagle, raised a record $1,396.00 for the March of Dimes; won 1st place for our spirit station the third year in a row; and entered walkers for the second year.

During President Martha Southwood’s 2003-2005 term, significant improvements to the clubhouse and grounds occurred. Massive yard work was undertaken by the president and members with their spouses, as well as weekly free lawn maintenance. The club was painted inside and out; drapes were sewn and donated by member Iris Clerc; the kitchen and bathroom flooring was replaced; the GFWC sign posted at the city limits was restored; and a newsletter was reinstated. Our continued support of the March of Dimes campaign resulted in 1st place both years for our spirit station. Our Home Life Department, chaired by Barbara Mehaffey, furnished several apartments (through donations) at the local subsidized housing development; and adopted a family at the Lee Conlee House for abused women during the Christmas season, as well as other donations of goods to their thrift store.

In 2005-2006, during Patsy Bober’s term, significant department projects occurred. The Arts Department provided weekly line dancing at the club and performances at local civic events. The Conservation Department initiated a Butterfly House at a local junior-senior high school. The Education Department continued to staff the library for public use and provided 2 scholarships at St. Johns CC for mature women wishing to return to school. Home Life provided a fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independent Living. The International Affairs Department raised $1,000. for the Heifer International Project. Members received monthly newsletters, most by e-mail. Our Crafts Committee dominated the annual District 4 Arts & Crafts competition, capturing 31 ribbons – the most of any club in the district. Throughout the year, much attention was focused on proper parliamentary procedure and bylaws revision, culminating in the adoption of completely revised bylaws in April 2006.

During President Linda Miller’s 2006-2008 term, the bushes were removed from the front of the Clubhouse. A flower bed replaced them. A new water sprinkler system was installed. In March 2006, State President Pat Keel, District 4 Director Janie Ade, State President’s Project Chairman Betty Lumia, and District Parliamentarian Sandy Townsley visited our Club for a general meeting. Monies being held for scholarships were awarded. Two students were awarded $500.00 each. One student attended the University of Florida and the other St. Johns River College. Both are majoring in Education. Bylaws were revised and Standing Rules were put back into place. We acquired a new laptop computer and a color printer from the Putnam County Library System. A Memory Garden was started by the Conservation Department. A statue of a Lady on a pedestal and a concrete bench were placed on the blocks to begin the garden. Bricks were sold for $50.00 each, which includes the engravings on them. The garden was placed on south side of Clubhouse next to the Library. New electrical outlets were installed outside to supply more electric for vendors of our new fundraiser, Holiday Fest. Funds were raised by members for 12 new window blinds and curtains. In 2007, President Linda Miller was elected by members of District 4 to the Office of District 4 Director for 2008-2010.

In 2008, Jimmie Clark was elected president. Due to a family illness she was unable to complete the two-year term. Carla Ogonowski, 2nd VP, resigned her position due to illness. 2nd VP Bonnie Moran and 3rd VP Donna Johns assumed the presidential duties until March, 2009. Fundraisers were held to support the President’s Project Heifer International. Visits were made to the local nursing home and flu shots were given at the Clubhouse. The Club joined the St. Johns Riverkeeper in projects to preserve the St. Johns River. A Meet The Candidates Night was held. This lists only a few of the projects.

President June Welsh was elected on March 9, 2009 (date of our 50th year anniversary). Her project, in cooperation with the Knights of Columbus, was to provide wheelchairs for veterans. $1,800 was raised and 12 wheelchairs were presented. Clothing, toiletries and other items were collected by members for the Veterans Hospital in Gainesville. At the District 4 Meeting in Crescent City, we received a plaque for Outstanding Reporting for 2009 and for Outstanding Yearbook. We also received 12 1st place district certificates and one 2nd place district certificate for reporting. A $500 scholarship was presented to St. Johns River Community College. At the end of the year, June was elected to a two- year term.

In 2010-2012 and again in 2012-2014, June Welsh was re-elected as President. June is continuing to support our Veterans. We donated to Wounded Warriors and the VA Hospital in Northport, NY.  We are continuing to collect personal care items, underwear and socks for our Veterans. Our Club members, in addition to championing our Veterans, have been busy in other charitable endeavors in the community. Evidence of that is in the rewards we consistently receive in District 4 and at the GFWC Florida Conventions.   We are very proud of our members and their achievements which make our Club stand out in our Community.