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SHALLOTTE — The Shallotte Junior Woman’s Club helped launch Rourk Library, so it was fitting when the organization held its 40th anniversary celebration there.
On Saturday, June 7, past and current members of the woman’s club gathered at the library on Main Street in Shallotte to remember 40 years of existence.
Katie Mae Garner, vice president of the club, said it was a perfect hosting place for the celebration.
“We were intricate in founding the library, so it works,” she said.
The celebration included a brief recount of the organization’s history by Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) South Brunswick Islands member Polly Russ, a charter member of the Shallotte Junior Woman’s Club.
The GFWC, founded in 1890, is an international women's organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. It is one of the world’s largest and oldest nonpartisan, nondenominational, women's volunteer service organizations.
The Shallotte Junior Woman’s Club plays an integral role in Relay for Life, Communities in Schools, literacy projects and child hunger, the Waccamaw Girls and Boys Home, and scholarship programs for high school seniors, among other projects.
“It’s hard to believe the town even existed without the Shallotte Juniors,” Russ joked. “We reached a point where we were no longer known by our husband’s names. We have our own names now.”
Russ read an excerpt from a 1974 edition of the Beacon that reported the first charter members of the club.
“There were 27 of us, and we made a difference from the start,” she said. “It’s nice to have the celebration here because I really believe this library is here because of Shallotte Juniors.”
Russ said the organization gave the library $1,000 as one of its first major donations.
“It was the largest donation the library had received at the time,” she said.
The goal of the Shallotte Junior Woman’s Club is to “improve the lives of the people here in Brunswick County,” she added.
Sandra Thomas was the first president of the Shallotte Junior Woman’s Club in 1973. Thomas recalled her time as president in 1974 and was proud of what the organization has become.
“What a positive creation this has been,” she said.
The club also welcomed GFWC North Carolina president Gay Warren and director of juniors Jennifer Jobe to the celebration.
“Thanks for allowing me to be a part of such a special event,” Jobe said. “Forty years of service in today’s world is not an easy thing to do. While other groups have had struggles we’ve had with memberships and the economy, I’m proud of the success the group in Shallotte has had. Congratulations on the last 40 years. It truly is remarkable this day and age.”
There are 400 members and 23 clubs across North Carolina. In 2013, the state reported 1,036 projects, more than 38,000 volunteer hours, more than $162,000 in donations and an additional $16,000 raised for miscellaneous projects. Also, more than $75,000 in-kind donations have been made by clubs across the Tar Heel State.
Current president Stacey McCumbee called 2014 “one of the best years yet” and said she was excited about the organization moving forward.
“This was another great year,” she said. “We just finished Relay for Life and, as always, feeding the survivors was so much fun. The survivors are excited about that every year.”
McCumbee estimated the group has donated more than $60,000 in scholarship funds to graduating seniors from West Brunswick each school year.
To cap off the celebration, Shallotte Mayor Walt Eccard was present to proclaim June 7, 2014, as Shallotte Junior Woman’s Club Federation Day for the organization’s “tireless, devoted commitment to the town.”
“Shallotte has benefited for several years by the work of the members of the Junior Woman’s Club,” Eccard said. “It’s a pleasure to recognize their service.”
Also, the library unveiled a display cabinet containing 40 years of documents illustrating the organization’s history.
The display cabinet was donated by Summer Home Furniture in Shallotte.
Members of the Woman’s Club thanked Rourk Library and the Friends of the Library for “a wonderful partnership throughout the years.”
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.