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History of the GFWC Fairmont Woman’s Club
The GFWC Fairmont Woman’s Club was organized in January 1916 and joined the Federation in March of that year. The object of the club was "Mutual Improvement and Civic Betterment". Membership was 63, with Dr. Nellie G. C. Deffenbaugh being president. The population of Fairmont at that time was about 750.
The first project was to acquire a clubroom. A building was found and the club ladies spent a lot of time, energy, and money getting it ready to use. Club meetings were held in this room during the first year.
A library fund was started the first year with the proceeds from a banquet served for the Community Club and a minstrel show. A library and public restrooms were two things the club felt the town needed.
During the second year the club met in member’s homes, working in departments, with one general meeting each month. The departments were literature and art, mothers and home economics, and civics. These departments held as many meetings as they desired.
By 1917 the need of Red Cross work became urgent. From then until the end of the war most of the club time was given to Red Cross fund raising or sewing surgical dressings. Few programs were given during that period, meetings being devoted to business or work.
After the armistice, November 1918, the club had a period of reorganization. The constitution and by-laws were revised and adopted in February 1919. Departmental work was given up and programs were given at regular meetings. Women's Clubs over the state were interested in two bills then pending in the state legislature in regard to child welfare (later past) and state censorship of moving pictures (later defeated).
In 1920 the departmental work was started again so there was only one general meeting a month. In 1920 one project of the club was working with the Commercial Club to make the railroad crossings safer in Fairmont. The club began helping the campfire girls sponsoring a mother and daughter banquet and this was an annual event from 1920 to 1927. In 1921 the club held a program on the harmful effects of tobacco.
In 1922 definite steps towards establishing a library were taken. A committee to investigate prospects regarding the library and then a ways and means committee were appointed. Many fund raising projects were held to raise money for the library, among these were clipping coupons, the sale of a collie pup, and a Mother Daughter Tea. April 1922 a library association was formed. In October 1922 the Fairmont Public Library was opened in the city hall.
Outstanding project during the years 1923, 24, and 25 were a baby conference clinic. 15 to 25 babies were examined at each conference.
Membership in 1926 -27 shows 37 names. The club continued to assist the library, which by 1940 contained some 4500 volumes, with funds and books.
In 1930 they had the same roll call for each meeting, which was to be answered by giving a Bible verse. One of their programs was a debate on “Should Women Work Outside The Home.” They also had a guest day for “older Ladies”.
In the 1930’s their programs were on women’s issues, art, drama, music, Patriotism, book reviews, culture, child welfare and international affairs. They met twice a month. One interesting roll call in the late 1930’s was” Eye Sores of My Town.” And of course the program was on civic improvements.
In 1939 the Fairmont Woman’s Club worked on getting trees planted in the north city park.
From 1940 to 1945 the club members made band uniforms for the school band and dresses for war orphans, sent letters, gifts, and books to the service men, helped with war fund drives, planted victory gardens, and helped at the library. Public restrooms were provided, as the members wanted so many years ago.
Late 40's and the 50's were devoted to local subjects and home life. Fine arts became a high priority. Members and students took part in craft, music, and art contests. These projects are continued today.
1960's brought the Viet Nam War and the need for Red Cross ditty bags, and letter and books to the service men. In 1962 the club formed a “Welcome Committee,” which visited newcomers to the community or they would hold a coffee to introduce the newcomers to what Fairmont had to offer. During those years the fund raising consisted of members selling items such as note cards, placemats and in 1967 Zip Code Books. Some of their projects included bed rails for the county hospital, Christmas gifts to Hastings State Hospital, Halsey Forrest, NFWC Education Loan Fund, NFWC Scholarship Fund, March of Dimes, C.A.R.E., and the Heart Fund. Buying library cards for 5th and 6th grades was started in 1969
The club joined in the Community Improvement Program, helping the Chamber of Commerce with projects, a grill, flagpole, and trees were donated for the city park by the Women's Club. They also helped get out the vote for the low cost housing for the seniors in 1965, the new library in 1968[which was the Woman’s Club's special project from the time of chartering).
The annual Kidnap Coffee, which started in 1969, is the thing most remembered by the members and the community alike. People in town were kidnapped by club members who were dressed in cowboy outfits and carried toy guns. They were then taken to the Library meeting room, where after purchasing rolls and coffee they were released. This was the club's main moneymaker in the 1970's.
Another fundraiser was held for three years starting in 1969 called “Tasting Tea.” Members all made goodies and the public were invited to come sample the goodies, a pamphlet of the recipes was sold.
One large undertaking of the club in 1973 was preparing the Fairmont Centennial book. The club undertook the research, preparation of the content, printing and sale of the book. Sales of the book continued for several years.
Another fundraiser from 1973-1976 was the sale of the GFWC Bi Centennial Plates. There were four plates in the series and they came in either white or blue.
In 1970 the club started the “Teenager of the Month”, where the club put an article in the newspaper telling about the teenager and their accomplishments. An award was also given to the teenager. Other projects the club supported in the 1970’s were C.A.R.E., Chapel of All Faiths, Chapel of Hope, Red Cross, Muscular Dystrophy, Fillmore County Mental Health Fund, Halsey Forrest, Fairmont Fire Truck Fund, School Athletic Fund, Floyd Rogers Diabetic Foundation, Bicycle Racks for the Swimming Pool NFWC Educational Load Fund, and NFWC Scholarship Fund. From 1972-1977 the club gave to the Tommy Bartak Fund, a local child who had been severely injured in a car accident. In 1973 the club supported a get out to vote campaign for a new swimming pool, and the Fairview Manor Nursing Home.
In 1980's the club members supported the passing of a bill for a new school building, worked with the city council to place street signs on the corners in Fairmont, and supported the senior citizens in their establishment of a senior center. The club started helping with the Red Cross Bloodmobile in 1984 a project they continue today. In 1987 the club started a scholarship for local teachers who wish to go to summer school.
In 1980 The Kidnap Coffee was dropped in favor of having bake sales in conjunction with the homecoming parade. The club also continued the traveling card parties, which were started in 1977, for a fundraiser. These developed into regular card parties held at the Legion Hall that were held off and on through the 1980’s. In the summer of 1982 the club held a flea market at the city park during Fairmont’s Old Settlers Picnic. Another big fundraiser for the club was in 1984 when they published a 144-page cookbook of member’s recipes. In 1984 the club sold selling the GFWC Centennial dolls, there were four in the series.
In 1984 the club sponsored a Cook off during the Fairmont Old Settlers Picnic. Contestants entered and prepared their favorite dishes, prizes were awarded and everyone could taste the entries. This became an annual event for six years.
In the 1990’s the club emphasis was on education. Many members worked with ABE [helping adults get their GED), this program started in 1995. The club sponsored students to Hoby, music camp, and Sophomore Pilgrimage. Students and members participated in music, art, public speaking, poetry, and short story contests at local, district, and state level. The fundraisers during the 1990’s were card parties with the last one being held in 1999.
In 1996 the club joined with the NFWC to collect pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House in Omaha. This project is ongoing today. In 2004-2006 the club also donated to the NFWC Ronald McDonald House Schoolroom Project. In the 2007 club year the club donated to the Ronald McDonald House for their remodeling of their kitchen.
The club moved into the 21st century carrying the values and traditions of their forebears.
It was in 2000 the club turned their Christmas party into a fundraiser with the proceeds going to support shelters for battered women. This is now an annual event that is looked forward to by the members. In 2011 it was decided the proceeds from the Christmas would go to a different charity each year.
In 2010 the club expanded its efforts for Victims of domestic violence by donating 250 pounds of items to C.I.S.D.A. who works with these victims. Domestic Violence is the signature project of GFWC and is one of NFWC President Cheryl Strickler’s projects(2010-2012). The club continued doing this project in 2011 and 2012. The items going to C.S.I.D.A. in 2011 and Living Waters Mission in 2012.
The Fairmont club put up its own website in June of 2005. It was the first club in Nebraska to have its own website and link with the GFWC Women’s Club website. This site has the club history, calendar of events, current projects and programs, information on meetings, member contests and contest and opportunities for youth.
In 2001 the club started the “Valentine auction” for a fundraiser. Members bring homemade goodies or something special, which was auctioned at the February meeting. Members have fun bidding for that special Valentine. This became an annual event. In 2009 the auction was change to April and renamed to “Spring Fling Auction.” The auction continues to be our main fundraiser.
In 2006 the club celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a membership of 21 members, being organized in January of 1916 and affiliated with the Federation in February of 1916. The GFWC Fairmont Woman’s Club held a 90th Birthday party on April 18, 2006. Congratulations were read from GFWC and Ernie Shriner, GFWC President; Liz Gerberding, NFWC President; Kathy Flock, NFWC President Elect; Rosella Beavers and Connie Pieper, former presidents of the Fairmont Club. Special guest were Lois Havel, NFWC Home Life Chairman; Bernice Cantrell, NFWC District IV President; Donna Lefler, NFWC District IV President Elect; Judy Dineen, NFWC District IV treasurer; Bonnie Cudaback, NFWC District IV Art Chairman; Bea Snodgrass and Elva McBride, former Fairmont Club Presidents; Elizabeth Cassidy and Lila Bettger, former Fairmont Club members. Seven Past presidents of the Fairmont Club who are still members that were in attendance were Nancy Galaway, Delores Roper, Charlene Bristol, Inez Logan, Donna Lefler, Nancy Seward, and Sharon Krejci.
The program started with the honoring of the GFWC Fairmont Woman’s Club’s past presidents. Next the members of the club were recognized for their years of service. Those serving were Teresa Schepers-43 years, Jean Priefert-40 years, Nancy Galaway and Delores Roper-39 years, Inez Logan and Charlene Bristol-38 years, Donna Lefler-31 years, Doris Judy-29 years, Nancy Seward-25 years, Della Rose and Ruby West-23 years, Sharon Krejci-22 years, Mary Berggren-19 years, Beth Uden-16 years, Lisa Gillard and Jacquelyn Nichols-11 years, Louise Gipson-6 years, Marian Uldrich-2 years, and Faye Bonin, Karolyn Glenn, and Wanda Marget-first year members.
Next on the program the members and guest shared memories of the Fairmont club. What a great time this was! Memorabilia was also past around for all to enjoy. The GFWC Fairmont Woman’s Club history was read with the highlights from the past 90 years. A story, “Portrait of a Clubwoman”, was read. This was about our club member Maxine Ackerman who passed away in 2005. At the Conclusion of the program a poem, “I Am But One Woman”, written by club president, Nancy Galaway was read.
The Fairmont library has remained an important part of the club's responsibility for over ninety years. At this time the club donates books, helps support the summer reading program and offers its assistance for the library’s projects.
Community Improvement has been a project of the Fairmont Club since its organization. One of the projects that have continued over the years is the planting of trees and flowers. The club has planted many trees in the city parks. For many years flower beds at the city park and around the old waterpower were planted and maintained by club members. For the past several years the club has place flower barrels on the street along the main business district. Some barrels are taken care of by business owners, club members and other volunteers from the community. In 2008 the club planted red roses, a NFWC project, in honor of GFWC President Rose Ditto. Another NFWC project that the members of the Fairmont club donated to in 2008 was the trees for Halsey Forest.
Children have always been a high priority of the club and they have worked to support and encourage the children of the community. In the past members had fun making floats for the school homecoming parades and having a tea for the senior girls and their mothers. They bought library cards for the fifth and sixth grade each year. In 1984 they sponsored “Operation Child Find” and in 1986 held a Bike-A-thon For St. Jude’s. That same year they helped get new band uniforms for the school band. Members enjoyed the many programs given by the foreign exchange students and the music programs given by our youth. Many safety programs have been given for and about children over the years. Ongoing programs for more years than most can remember are art, music and writing contest for the youth. We started in 1985 sponsoring a youth to Sophomore Pilgrimage. A new project was started in 2004 and continues today where each member brings a gift for two baskets that are donated to the school’s post prom party. The club joined with the GFWC in making “Smile Dolls” for children overseas. The club joined with the Nebraska GFWC to help raise funds for the Ronald McDonald house in Omaha. They also joined with the Nebraska GFWC in the support of the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva where they built a chapel. They also provide personal items and craft items for the youth there. In 2008 the Club started collecting UPC labels from Our Family products for education. They are given to the Fillmore Central Middle School. in 2009 the club started collecting used ink cartridges for the Fillmore Central School Success Program. Many members of the community help the club by saving labels and ink cartridges for the school. In 2012 the club discontinue saving labels as there was no longer a store in Fairmont that carried the needed lables. They continue to collect ink cartridges.
The club has been involved with the Fairmont Nursing Home since 1961 when the Moore Nursing Home was established. They supported the building of a new nursing home, Fairview Manor, in 1971. The building opened in March of 1973. The members provided treats and entertainment for the residents of both homes over the years. The club donated to the Manor landscaping fund in 1976. In 1986 they supported the addition of a chapel there and in 2001 gave their support to the Eden Alternative Project adopted by the home. The club has been a contributor to the “lighted Cross Fund” since 1973 when the Fairview Manor started that project to raise funds to help with programs and other needs of the residents.
In 2005 the club started a program to help support the Senior Citizens Center in Fairmont. In the fall the club holds a “Shower” for the center and each member brings an item for the center.
In September of 2010 the club started a program to recognize the accomplishments of its members. Each month a member is chose by the length of time they have belonged. Their biography is read at the meeting and appears in the local paper with their picture.
In November of 2010 the club raised funds for Heifer International program and bought a “Flock of Hope.” In 2012 they held a Mexican dinner to raise funds for the NFWC President Pat Gage’s project “Clean Water.” The money went to buy drinking straws for children in Africa.
Today the GFWC Fairmont Woman’s club works with all the programs of the GFWC, which are Arts, Conservation, Home Life, International Outreach, Education, Public Issues, Community Improvement, Membership, Leadership, Public Relations, and Historic Preservation. They choose programs for their meetings from these areas to become better informed about their community, nation and world. They choose projects in these areas to improve their lives and the lives of others.
The club celebrated its 95th Anniversary at its September 20, 2011 meeting. Excerpts from the club history was read and members shared memories from the past. Old club scrapbooks were enjoyed by the members.
The population of Fairmont in 2000 was 791 compared to 921 in 1910 and 785 in 1920, the club being organized in 1916. Our membership has varied through the years. A decline in membership is largely due to women working outside the home and a busier lifestyle. In 2008 the club had a special membership drive, which including making a pamphlet about the club that they place in different areas and gave to perspective members. The club increased its membership from 21 to 27.
The ideals, hopes and dreams of the women who started the GFWC Fairmont Woman’s Club in 1916 continue to live in the hearts of the members today and will burn brightly long into the future.
Through the years the club as a group has accepted the responsibility to educate ourselves and to help solve community problems. The club's unity has helped promote the progress in our community. The object of the GFWC Fairmont Women's Club is the same today as when it was chartered over 90 years ago in 1916, "Mutual improvement and Civic Betterment".
PAST PRESIDENTS OF THE GFWC FAIRMONT WOMAN'S CLUB
*Mrs. Dr. Martin (Nellie) Deffenbaugh 19161-918
*Mrs. Sam (Maude) Dewey 1918-1920
*Mrs. Fred (Virdelia) Brown 1920-1922
*Mrs. Charles (Hallie) Woods 1922-1924
*Mrs. Robert (Eloise) Adams 1924-1926
*Mrs. Charles (Sarah) Moore 1926-1928
*Mrs. Charles (Edith H.) Little 1928-1930
*Mrs. Alex (Clara) Perkins 1930-1931
*Mrs. Elmer (Mabel) Boren 1931-1933
*Mrs. William (Neyta) Boren 1933-1935
*Mrs. Fred (Virdelia) Brown 1935-1936
*Mrs. Preston (Tena) Ogden 1936-1939
*Mrs. Morris (Clo) Harrington 1939-1941
*Mrs. George (Goldie) Boren 1941-1942
*Mrs. Harry (Eunice) Harrington 1942-1943
*Mrs. George (Goldie) Boren 1943-1944
*Mrs. Harry (Eunice) Harrington 1944-1945
*Mrs. Robert (Gwendolyn) Kritner 1945-1946
*Mrs. George (Goldie) Boren 1946-1949
*Mrs. Charles (Edith H.) Little 1949-1950
*Mrs. Ervin (Adelia) Patton 1950-1953
*Mrs. William (Neyta) Boren 1953-1954
*Mrs. Preston (Tena) Ogden 1954-1956
*Mrs. Lloyd (Emma) Dixon 1956-1957
*Mrs. Ernest (Marjorie) Mumby 1957-1958
*Mrs. George (Goldie) Boren 1958-1962
*Mrs. Albert (Rachael) Trumble 1962-1964
Mrs. Richard (Joan) Ekwall 1964-1965
*Mrs. Ernest (Marjorie) Mumby 1965-1966
*Mrs. Paul (Eileen) O'Conner 1966-1968
Mrs. Don (Roselia) Beavers 1968-1969
Mrs. Godfrey (Clarice) Machal 1969-1971
Mrs. Francis (Teresa) Schepers 1971-1972
Mrs. Jim (Bea) Snodgrass 1972-1973
Mrs. Charles (Nancy) Berggren 1973-1974
Mrs. John (Elva) McBride 1974-1976
Mrs. Edward (Pat) Weinman 1976-1977
Mrs. Marvin (Delores) Roper 1977-1979
Mrs. John (Elva) McBride 1979-1981
Mrs. Don (Connie) Pieper 1981-1983
*Mrs. David (Charlene) Bristol 1983-1985
Mrs. Rex (Inez) Logan 1985-1987
Mrs. Howard (Donna) Lefler 1987-1989
Mrs. Rex (Inez) Logan 1989-1991
*Mrs. Willis (Margaret) Kemper 1991-1993
Mrs. Russell (Nancy) Seward 1993-1995
*Mrs. Melvin (Maxine) Ackerman 1995-1997
*Mrs. Ronald (Sharon) Krejci 1997-1999
Mrs. Marvin (Delores) Roper 1999-2001
Mrs. Wayne (Beth) Uden 2001-2003
Mrs. Russell (Nancy) Seward 2003-2004
Mrs. Joseph (Nancy) Galaway 2004-2008
Mrs. Howard (Donna) Lefler 2008-2012
Mrs. Marvin Roesti (Delores) 2012-
EXECUTIVE BOARD GFWC FAIRMONT WOMAN’S CLUB
President: Nelle G. C. Deffenbaugh President: Donna Lefler
1st Vice President: Mary L. Hoagland 1 st Vice President: Delores Roper
2nd Vice President: Grace K. Brown 2nd Vice President: Lisa Nichols
Secretary: Anna S. Frazier Secretary: Beth Uden
Treasurer: Gertrude J. Hartsook Treasurer: Nancy Seward
Parliamentarian: Alma V. Stewart Parliamentarian: Sharon Krejci
Board Member: Anna E. Aldrich Board Member: Nancy Galaway
Updated October 2011
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