February 21, 2006 > Damsels help distressed
Damsels help distressed
by Mona Shah
A group of mom's decided to start a club as a way of meeting new people and basically getting out of the house, away from everyday chores. For a few hours every month they would meet, have lunch and socialize with other women. That was almost 40 years ago, and the birth of the Tri-Cities Women's Club that now boasts a membership of over 100 members with enough clout to support local charities every year. Started in 1962, it was originally called the Newcomer's Club that gradually evolved to become an incorporated association called the Tri-Cities Women's Club, encompassing Fremont, Newark and Union City.
The women still meet as a group to socialize, have lunch and play cards, but as the club matured, their thoughts turned toward philanthropic endeavors. Jean Gardener spoke to the club about her plan to start the Irvington Free Breakfast Club. Club members liked the idea and decided to hold a fundraiser to provide Gardner with seed money for the project. In the ensuing years, local charities have approached the Tri-Cities Women's Club for help with fundraising to start up their programs as well.
On the third Tuesday of every month at 9 a.m., club members congregate at the Fremont Elks Lodge and start by playing cards. Different groups play bridge, pinochle, and even a Chinese version of dominos called Mah Jong. At about 11:30 a.m. they break for lunch, followed by an official business meeting. At many of the meetings Program Director, Pat Hawkins, invites leaders of local charities to speak to the membership who then vote to select which one to support.
"Proceeds of our fundraising money for this year will go to the Salvation Army," says Hawkins. "If we raise money we want it to stay local, we don't want it to be sent out of our area." The ladies have invited Captain Murphy of the Salvation Army to speak to it's membership at its February meeting and explain exactly how their donation will help local charities and needy in the Tri-City area.
The March 21 meeting will be a kickoff event to sell tickets for their annual fundraiser featuring Hawaiian dancers, called Kapuna, meaning gracious ladies. They have decided on a Hawaiian Holiday theme for their annual fundraiser, held on Saturday, April 29 at the Fremont Elks Lodge. This event will include a catered luncheon and a fashion show. Clothing will be provided by Dress Barn and club members will walk the catwalk and model outfits. In past years the annual fundraisers have sold over 300 tickets at $40 each. Last year the Tri-Cities Women's Club gave $10,000 to OneChild started by Bernadine Dutra, former Assemblyman John Dutra's wife, to help children in need with basic necessities to succeed in school.
During the holidays, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Hawkins, goes to Sister John Marie's Pantry to find out who is in need of help. The club will then raise money to provide food baskets, gift cards, clothing or toys to welfare recipients or the working poor.
The Tri-Cities Women's Club continues to grow. "Women who like to play cards, or just socialize like I do, they are welcome to join," says Hawkins. Many women here have formed lifelong friendships and there are many spin-off groups such as book clubs, Bunco dice game groups and other groups that play bridge. Since a majority of the women are retired, the club is still true to its original roots where women come to enjoy each others company and as Hawkins says, "basically just get out of the house, meet new people and play cards."
Tri-Cities Woman's Club Annual Fundraiser
Saturday, April 29
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fremont Elks Lodge
38991 Farwell Dr., Fremont
For tickets (510) 793-3263