Members

Beverly Shelton

Beverly Shelton  photograph

Serving as president of a GFWC club is certainly an honor and a challenge. Serving for 50 years? Now that’s something else entirely. But that’s par for the course for Beverly Shelton, a four-generation clubwoman and 51-year member of the federation who has been active and engaged in GFWC leadership throughout, including 42 years as president of a club that bears her name, the GFWC Beverly Shelton Girls Town Club. A 2010 Jennie Award winner, Beverly remains the only Missouri clubwoman to have ever won the prestigious honor.

What drove you to be a president within GFWC for 50 years?
I think it came naturally. I was president of the local branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and a recipient of the coveted Girl Scouts Thanks Badge before I joined GFWC. Ironically, the first time I saw a Girl Scout Thank Badge was on somebody at a GFWC Convention. I’ve had good leadership training at the GFWC Conventions. I worked my way up through leadership roles in my state, I took advantage of all the leadership opportunities I could at Convention, and learned a lot. I’ve had lots of honors, and they’re earned, but I’ve enjoyed it.

Can you talk about some of your leadership roles within GFWC?
I served as president of the Nu-Era Study Club for two non-consecutive terms. I’ve been president of the GFWC Beverly Shelton Girls Town Club since 1972. I’ve been Second District Recording Secretary, second and first vice-president, and president. After being elected GFWC Missouri Treasurer in 1976, I served on the GFWC Board of Directors as Missouri State President from 1984-1986. I also served two years as GFWC Music Chairman. Locally, I served as leadership chairman for GFWC Missouri in recent years, but because of my health, I’ve cut back on that.

What has being part of GFWC meant to you?
My husband calls me a professional volunteer, and to tell you the truth, besides my family, GFWC is the best thing to ever happen to me. I have met so many wonderful people and formed oodles of friends, including Kathy Palermo our state president. She’s been a member of my Girls Town club since 1981. I met her mother at the 1980 GFWC Convention and she told me she had a daughter who lives in the Kansas City area. I said, “Give me her telephone number.” I called Kathy and she joined my club immediately.


 

I recently had one of the Girls Town club member tell me, “The world is a better place because of you.” When I spoke to the kids at a recent GFWC Missouri leadership seminar, I told them this was my swan song, but that in turn was my challenge to them: make the world a better place. And that’s my challenge to all GFWC clubwomen. Make the world a better place because you served and volunteered with GFWC!


You have a club (The GFWC Beverly Shelton Girls Town Club) named for you. How does one get a club named after them?
I was vice president of a district, and at the 1972 District Convention, our president, Imogene Otten, asked for contributions to form a new club. She raised enough money to form three new Girls Town clubs which were named after the district president, first vice-president, and second vice-president. Mine is the only one still active. There are two more Girls Town clubs in the Kansas City area, but they were formed later. I was elected president of the club when it was formed, and I’ve been re-elected every two years since. Our club has a benefit for Girls Town every year, and the last two years we’ve raised $1,900.

You were the first of several generations of GFWC clubwomen. How important is it to have those generational ties?
It’s really important. I think it means I’m setting a good example. The last member I recruited was my granddaughter. She met me at the airport and I said, “How about joining my club?” She’s been very active. My oldest daughter was active in the Nu-Era and Girls Town clubs for years until 2007 when she moved to Florida, where she now serves as president of the GFWC Spring Hill Service League, even though she’s fighting ovarian cancer. But of course she recruited her two daughters, so all four of my grandchildren are involved with GFWC. My daughter-in-law is also an active member, currently the GFWC Missouri Recording Secretary. I even got my mother to join my Girls Town Club when she moved to Kansas City in 1985!

How are those ties ingrained in your love of music?
I love music. I’m a pianist and I’ve played piano since I was eight years old, majoring in it in college. I’ve always been active in music as well and served as president of the Community Association of the Arts. We have a multiple piano concert every two years where they have eight pianos on the stage. My older daughter played in that two times, and then her daughter played in it, and then she and her daughter played one year when they had a parent and child recital. I don’t get to play much anymore because of arthritis in my hand, but I can still play Happy Birthday!

What was it like to be a 2010 Jennie Award honoree?
Would you believe I am the only one from Missouri to have been a Jennie Award recipient? Carla Kinkaid was a Mississippi Valley finalist in 2014 and I felt so bad she didn’t get it because she’s one of many Missouri clubwomen who are just as worthy as I am. Of course I found at the Mississippi Valley conference that I was a candidate. Then I received a letter from (GFWC International President) Rose Ditto saying that I had won and it was just such a great thrill and a real honor.

  How does it feel to know you’ve had an effect on decades of GFWC clubwomen?
I don’t know anybody that’s been president of a club that long! I have had a blessed life. I’ve had two bad falls and two different stops in the care center and when I leave the house I walk with a cane, and I can’t do what I used to, but I’m going to continue doing what I can.

I recently had one of the Girls Town club member tell me, “The world is a better place because of you.” When I spoke to the kids at a recent GFWC Missouri leadership seminar, I told them this was my swan song, but that in turn was my challenge to them: make the world a better place. And that’s my challenge to all GFWC clubwomen. Make the world a better place because you served and volunteered with GFWC!

 

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