Current Events Club dissolution helps four charitable causes

November 3, 2014
The exterior of the house that was the site of the Current Events Club on South Wade Avenue in East Washington - Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A Washington area women’s club founded in November 1895 is no more, but its legacy will live on through charitable donations to four organizations.

Washington County Judge Katherine B. Emery signed an order this week presented by attorney Timothy Relich that equally divides the Current Events Club’s assets four ways through grants from the Washington County Community Foundation.

Earnings from the interest on $150,000 will go to support the children’s department of Citizens Library; the Donnell House hospice care program; David Bradford House; and Domestic Violences Services of Washington, as approved by the six-member board of directors in September, the same day the club’s 14 members voted to dissolve because of its aging membership and the lack of women willing to join.

The club’s original intent was getting together to discuss current events, but the ladies found themselves working to better the community.

The first challenge adopted by the club’s civics department was making improvements to the public library that was in the town hall in 1902. After improvements were made, the club held its first annual tea on New Year’s Day 1903. The tea would continue for nearly a century.

The library continued to be the club’s primary interest, with the group eventually pushing for construction of a new building.

The club took on making other improvements, such as requesting Washington put garbage cans on street corners and publish the schedule for garbage collection. They sent a telegram to the state’s Committee of Industrial Relations asking for favorable attention to an amendment to the child labor bill. State senators and representatives were asked to establish a state reformatory for women.

Other interests included social centers for older people, schooling for illiterate women, better markings of streets, Washington Park public comfort and restrooms. A daughters club also was formed, working with their mothers on various civic projects.

The club also wanted a permanent home. In 1952, the club and daughters club adopted by-laws for The Current Events Club Home Association and bought a home at 49 S. Wade Ave., East Washington, that year for $22,000, using $12,000 from the building fund and a $10,000 mortgage. They burned the mortgage in 1959 and sold the property a few years ago.

Based on the amount expected to be turned over, the annual grant will total $6,000, with each entity to be given $1,500.

Betsie Trew, president and chief executive officer of the Washington County Community Foundation, said the annual grants will be known as The Current Events Club Home Fund.

Relich also notified the state attorney general’s office of the action. The law requires property committed to charitable purposes must not be diverted from the objectives to which it was donated unless a board of directors or other body obtains a court order.

Neither the club, its officers, directors nor any private individual will benefit from the distribution of property, according to documents Relich filed with the clerk of Orphans Court.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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