Women’s Civic Club celebrates 75 years

February 2, 2013
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Members of the Carmichaels Women’s Civic Club pose on their float during the 1958 King Coal parade. The club won third place for its float, which featured the theme, “Our Ace in the Hole is Coal.”
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This is a photo of the club’s annual Christmas Party at the Children’s Home. Shown are Mrs. Laidley, Mrs. Brooks, Mrs. Lynn and Mrs. Roth.
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Three Girls of the Month, no identifications available, are shown during a spring luncheon in May 1959.
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Members of the Carmichaels Women's Civic Club gathered for a spring luncheon at Rohanna's in April 1959.  
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Carmichaels Women’s Civic Club members decorated trees last October in support of the Purple Ribbon Campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness. From left is Andrea Semenoff, club president, and Cheryl Voytek.   
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Members of the Carmichaels Women’s Civic Club participated in the nationwide Wreaths Across America program Dec. 15, 2012, at Laurel Point Cemetery in Carmichaels. Front row, from left, Diane Cutwright, Kate Hillsman, Cheryl Voytek, Judy Armstrong and Andrea Semenoff; back row, Ruth Enci, Wanda Cutwright, Emilia Bertugli, Kim Bartley and Saundra Thomas.

CARMICHAELS – Four months after a group of women met at the Presbyterian Church of Carmichaels to discuss the formation of a club, the Women’s Club of Carmichaels and Cumberland Township was born Feb. 3, 1938.

Today will mark the 75th anniversary of the club that is made up of community-minded women of all ages of the Carmichaels area, “who have joined together to provide community service through volunteering and fundraising.” Members include business owners, teachers, homemakers, elected officials, corporate executives and retirees.

The first project of the newly formed club was a Red Cross blood drive. Initially, there were 27 members and an annual card party was started and the proceeds were used to purchase glasses for the needy and a Christmas party was held for the children in the county home.

An affiliation with the Pennsylvania Federation of Women’s Club came later in the year, and the club chose the lily of the valley as the club emblem and the motto, “Together We Serve.”

Andrea Semenoff, who has served as president from 2012-12, said a bigger celebration of the club’s 75th anniversary will be scheduled later this spring. An anniversary cake decorated with the club’s logo in green and while, the club’s official colors, will be served be served at the club’s meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 in the fellowship hall of the Carmichaels United Methodist Church.

Also at the meeting, winners of the club’s annual art contest, open to all club members and students in grades one through 12 in the Carmichaels Area School District, will be honored.

A 50-year history of the club prepared by Carolyn Hockenberry, club president in 1990, it is noted that in 1939, the membership jumped to 46 members.

In the early years, some of the projects were:

•Telephone benefit to raise money for a children’s fracture bed

•Donating to Girl Scouts and purchasing three uniforms for the high school band

•Holding a benefit dance for the USO and Navy Relief and making surgical dressings and helping with the VFW honor roll, selling cookbooks and writing letters in support of women’s rights.

By 1950, the membership had grown to 105, but Hockenberry noted that in 1943, the club almost disbanded due to gas rationing.

In 1952 the club made its first donation to the Carmichaels Chambers of Commerce Christmas lights and to the educational television station WQED. In 1958 the Girl of the Month was launched.

According to the Civic Club’s brochure, people join the women’s club for a variety of reasons, such as opportunities for friendship, broadening viewpoints, diversifying interests , leadership training and for opportunities to mold public opinion.

Currently, the club has 45 members and two members, Margaret Klamerus and Ann Yarish, have been in the club for 60 years.

Beth Minder of Jefferson, a 33-year member, still goes to club meetings regularly. “This club does good things for the community, “ she said. “We have put benches around the town (of Carmichaels), we offer scholarships every year at the high school, and we support Flenniken Library.”

Minder has served three times as club president and she worked on the club’s annual calendar party fundraiser, which donates money to a variety of charities.

Over the years, Minder has seen a drop in the number of volunteers but the club is gaining new and younger members. “We still have the mature members (Minder is 67) to offer our experience but I am glad to see women in their 30s join the club.”

Another club veteran, Beverly Dunlap of Carmichaels, has been a member 47 years. “It’s a wonderful and an old organization,” she said. Dunlap served two terms as president and was chairman of the Girl of the Month program for 15 years. “I think I have served in just about every capacity,” she said.

Some of the club’s accomplishments are support for literacy, the arts, conservation, Habitat for Humanity, women’s health and financial issues, Support the Troops Program and Greene Arc. The club also sponsors the King Coal Little League baseball team, awards a scholarship to a senior at Carmichaels Area Senior High School and donates items to the Greene County Women’s Shelter.

Two years ago, the club became sponsors of the Wreaths Across America, which lays wreaths in veterans cemeteries across the nation prior to Christmas.

Now 75 years later, the club’s motto has changed to Together We Can Make a Difference and it seems the club is living up to that role.

For more information on the Carmichaels Area Women’s Civic Club, call 724-966-2486.

Jon Stevens was the Observer-Reporter’s Greene County bureau chief. During his 41 years with the O-R, he covered county government, courts and politics, and won statewide and regional writing awards.

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