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GFWC celebrates its heritage

ESCANABA, MI. — March 25, 2009 — On April 24 each year, the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC) celebrates its historic beginning. On that day in 1890, members of 63 women's clubs from throughout the United States came together to form the General Federation of Women's Clubs at a ratification convention in New York City. Each year, GFWC clubs celebrate this significant day by raising awareness of the benefits of belonging to GFWC, supporting volunteer activities with collaborating organizations, and fulfilling GFWC's mission to enhance the lives of others through volunteer service.

Obtained from the Delta County Historical Society Archives, a 1936 Daily Press article describes the earliest days of GFWC-Escanaba, stating that in 1913, "a small number of Escanaba women, inspired by the true pioneer spirit of attainment and the ambition to make dreams come true, organized the Escanaba Women's Club."

Club projects at that time included passage of a law to require wrapping of bread sold to consumers, establishment of a garbage system, participation in numerous Red Cross activities, assisting in the financing of the "modern health crusade" in rural schools, furnishing a room at local tuberculosis sanatorium(s), establishment of a local State Board of Health Clinic and an agricultural extension program, and operating a salvage room in the basement of the Carnegie Public Library to provide for the needs of the poor.

Today, GFWC-Escanaba Women's Club continues to operate vital programs throughout Delta County, including the prescription drug abuse awareness campaign and providing coats, clothing and school supplies for needy children in Delta County. Additionally, the club contributes to other community organizations, such as the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center, Carefree Dental Clinic, St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army and Bay Cliff Health Camp.

Recently, two GFWC-Escanaba members celebrated 50 years of service to the organization.

Lois Anderson has been a member since 1958, serving as president from 1972-74. She received the Ms. Federation Award in 1975, which recognizes service to the community. Anderson continues to be an active member of the club, along with her daughter, Dee Dee, and daughter-in-law Kim.

Jane Pryal also joined the club in 1958, serving as president from 1974-76. She was named Ms. Federation in 1977. Pryal is active in the club's Education Committee, serving as the Epsilon Sigma Omicron (ESO) chairperson. Through ESO, clubwomen are given direction in planned reading for self-enrichment and personal growth.

GFWC-Escanaba membership is open to all women who want to make a difference in the community through volunteer service.

To learn about becoming a member, contact membership chairperson Heidi Londo, 789-9089.

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