Monday Club women volunteers mark 120 years
August 1, 2014
The Women’s Monday Club of Lake City is celebrating 120 years of being established this year.
Over the past 120 years, the members of the Women's Monday Club in Lake City have completed a substantial amount of achievements. Combined the women reported 771 volunteer hours in the past year, giving their time to Meals on Wheels, Hospital Auxiliary, and Shady Oaks.
Since forming in 1891 and becoming part of the National Federation in 1894, the Monday Club has focused on giving back to the community. The Lake City Monday Club was the first chapter to be established in Calhoun County.
Well-respected and recognized in the community, the Monday Club prides itself on service, enrichment, and friendship. The women have different programs they work on including: arts, conservation, education, home life, public issues and international outreach. These programs give the group the opportunity to help around the community, members say.
The largest project the club has completed in the past was a restoration of Rainbow Bridge. From 1995 to 1997 the women worked to raise funds to clean the graffiti off the historic Rainbow Bridge, located on Iberia Ave outside Lake City. The group was nationally recognized for their work and received first place in the General Federation Women's Club/Iowa Award, first place in the Iowa Best Preservation Award, and second place for the General Federation Women's Club Award.
In recent years the Monday Club helped fund the mural painting of Rainbow Bridge in downtown Lake City. The club also will donate money to have magicians and other entertainment come to the library for the kids to enjoy.
The closed club has a locked-in membership of 22 members. Due to a recent death the club currently has only 21 members. To become a member, women in the community are asked to join after current members vote to have them join.
"The women who are asked to join the club are recently retired from the workforce and would like to gear their energy into helping out with the community," said Miriam Hight, a program committee member.
All members live in Lake City and range in age from 50 to 90 years old.
The members are a diverse group of women.
"They aren't someone that you're going to see all the time, but when you do see them, it's nice," Crystal Jorgensen, treasurer of the club, said.
The Monday Club has social and honorary members as well. Members who are no longer active will take either of these statuses. Social members can attend meetings, but may not vote on issues such as new membership and community-service projects. Honorary members often are unable to come to meetings anymore because of health issues.
"We have never had someone just get up and leave - they usually always become a social or honorary member," said Mary Conrad, a program committee member. Several of the women have been members for 50 years.
"Everything is very laid-back and relaxed, there is a lot of respect within the group," Hight said.
The number of women is set to 22 in the club's bylaws because the club would originally meet in the members' homes and might have been too crowded with more.
"Nobody has ever thought to change it," Conrad said.
The club now meets at the town's library once a month. Because Lake City is a farming community, the Monday Club meets only nine months out of the year. In recent years the club has scaled back from two meetings a month to only one. Set meetings are held from September through May, but members still volunteer their time and remain active during the summer months. The women will also meet outside of meeting times when they are working on a larger project that needs completion.
In the past the women have hand made Smile Dolls for children with cleft palates. The club worked with Operation Smile and created bags that would aid these children after surgery. The women met outside of the meetings to complete this project.
Each member holds an officer position or is on some type of committee. The women believe it is important to make sure that everyone is involved and feels included.
"Usually we have a meal after every meeting, even if a woman is responsible only for that, she is still contributing," said Crystal.
By keeping the membership number so small, it is easier for everyone to get involved. Committee and cabinet positions are voted on and changed every two years.
"Years and years ago it was a social gathering when women didn't work," Jorgensen said.
In early members' notes the women found captions saying the Monday Club was started because the women wanted to learn more and have the men notice that they were learning. Women were expected to wear hats and gloves to meetings and were fined if they were absent.
Because the original Monday Club members had a strong interest in learning, they moved to create the first library in Lake City. The club went out into the community and collected books to donate to the library. The women wanted a Carnegie library in the community, and worked hard to get just that. After being so involved with the library scene in Lake City from the beginning, the club meets there on Monday afternoons now. They stay very involved with donating books to the current library. The club keeps track of how many books each member reads annually.
To cover small fees and activities the members pay a fee annually. Members pay dues to the local, national and international Women's Club organization. Dues also go toward an annual scholarship that the club offers as well as other academic costs.
To raise money for other community projects in the past the Monday Club has made and sold afghan quilts, held bake sales, and holds an auction annually. Each project that the club donates to or decides to carry out gets voted on by all members. In the past few years the club has decorated mannequins to display in the window of Lake City Hardware. The display showcased the Monday Club for the community to get a better understanding of who they are and what they do.
Conrad, Hight and Jorgensen all agreed that the women in the club are the people who they would want to surround themselves with. These women in a small town in Iowa are making a difference, and making an impact.
The best part? They aren't planning to stop anytime soon.
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