In many of my news articles reporting activities of the Mason Bluebonnet Study Club, the phrase “the club is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs” is included. Some readers have asked what the General Federation of Women’s Clubs is and why a local club belongs to an international organization headquartered in Washington, DC.
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, or GFWC as it is commonly known, is an organization of community based volunteer women’s clubs dedicated to community service. It began in 1889 with clubs from 19 states banding together and is an international organization today. With the motto “Unity in Diversity”, clubs address needs in all areas of community life with no single issue dominating their attention. Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, which is a part of GFWC, is divided into districts with Bluebonnet Study Club belonging to Alamo District.
When a group of wise women from the Mason area came together in 1942 to organize a club under the sponsorship of neighboring Rochelle Study Club, it was decided that application for membership in GFWC would be requested. That request was granted in that same year and the club was deemed to be “federated”. As a part of this international volunteer effort, local club members over the years have influenced a wide range of issues not only locally but worldwide. For example, between the years of 1998 and 2000, 17 million hours and $50 million were donated to 173,295 projects by member clubs.
Many projects undertaken have to do with education and libraries; safety in the workplace and home; conservation; child safety; equality of women; citizenship; preserving history; and supporting the arts. However, clubs strive to meet needs in any area of life as they occur. Some examples of joint efforts recently have been the purchase of a new ambulance for New York City after 9-11; collecting items needed to help victims of hurricanes; providing assistance to victims of domestic violence and raising awareness of this pervasive problem; and making and sending care packages to our armed service members overseas. The list goes on and on.
Charter members who decided to give Mason ladies influence in this vast volunteer effort were Averill Bellows, Edith Bellows, Ruby Kettner, Jessie Lindsey, Mrs. El McCollum, Mrs. Jude McDaniels, Mrs. P. A. Mixon, Mrs. James Ray, Ellen Steffens, and Mrs. Kurt Zesch.
Current president of the club is Mary Hemphill, with 17 members at last count. Meetings are held on the third Monday of the month at 2:00 p.m. with a few exceptions which are announced in this newspaper a week or so before the meeting. The place for each meeting is decided by the assigned hostess and that information is also included in the news article. Visitors and prospective club members are welcome to meetings.