The women of The Woman’s Club of Zephyrhills are busy bees.
And, that’s nothing new for this group, which was established 107 years ago to be of service in Pasco County’s largest municipality.
“Bee kind — that’s our theme,” said Emily Keene, the club’s recording secretary.
“Be kind, be generous, be happy. All those be’s, all of them, are part of every woman here and what brings them here,” said Keene, displaying her fun-loving spirit by sporting a bee-antenna headband. Each member of the group has one.
“There are all walks of life (in this club), and they come to this club because they want to provide services to this community that make a difference,” said Keene, a member of the club for eight years.
“It is a lot of fun, we have a good time and we’re friends, but it’s not a social club — it’s a working club,” she emphasized.
The Woman’s Club of Zephyrhills has been working for 107 years to help improve life in its community. It is the Zephyrhills branch of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs that was established in 1889.
The GFWC Woman’s Club of Zephyrhills was formed on Nov. 11, 1915 by 15 civic-minded women, while, through the efforts of Walter R. Gail and Mayor B.F. Parson, The Works Progress Administration built the clubhouse, located at 38545 Fifth Ave., from native rock hauled from a quarry on the Hillsborough River.
The Women’s Club first meeting at the clubhouse was April 18, 1941, and the club maintains the building through renting it for events. The club’s rent for the building is $1 year.
“We’ve been growing in leaps and bounds,” the club’s seventh-year president Gina Granger said. “We have a very diverse group of ladies, who all have a servant’s heart, and they just want to serve their community in some way, shape or form.”
Within every GFWC woman’s club, there are five committees, each focusing on a different aspect of the community. There is Arts & Culture; Civic Engagement & Outreach; Education & Libraries; Environment; and, Health & Wellness.
These committees help clubs light a path for the future. They also help focus efforts to address the current and upcoming needs within the community.
“We ask all members to join at least one committee, but some of them have multiple interests, so they might join more than one,” Granger said. “Those committees then come up with an annual service project — this is in every woman’s club.”
GFWC, nationwide, also has a signature service program: Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention, with an aim to increase awareness of and to help prevent the widespread occurrence of violence against women in communities.
Group is devoted, has staying power
The Zephyrhills club’s efforts to address the national GFWC’s signature program involves working extensively with Sunrise of Pasco, the Dade City-based center that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The club also works with Meals on Wheels, Zephyrhills Task Force, St. Joseph’s Baby Pantry, Helping Hands Food Pantry, and Support our Troops, and Hospice.
The club, as well as its Education Committee, works with the ABC Program at Zephyrhills High, West Zephyrhills Elementary and Woodland Elementary.
Through their members’ education focus, the club created the Pasco-Hernando State College Lola Lambert Memorial Scholarship. Named after a former president, the $15,000-a-year perpetual scholarship supports students who demonstrate financial need and maintain a 3.2 or higher GPA.
“Well, Zephyrhills (High) is a Title 1 school, and it’s been a tough few years to be a teacher,” said Granger, who is a teacher at the high school. “So, there have been ladies here who have adopted my classroom, and collected supplies and even prizes and other things to motivate (students). They’ve done the same at West Zephyrhills (Elementary), and even one year they took care of the teachers, getting them supplies and other stuff to thank them.
“We always try to do service projects that are near and dear to our hearts, but we like to focus on education a lot.”
Granger added that the club also awards 10 $1,000 scholarships, as well as participates in Take Stock in Children of Florida — a nonprofit mentoring, college success and college scholarship organization that will look after a student all the way through high school and into college.
“That one is definitely important to me, and it means a lot to me that others have joined in helping me with Take Stock in Children,” Granger said.
As a new service season gets rolling, members expect to keep themselves busy.
“I have seen this group grow and grow,” said Linda Weyer, a former club president.
“I joined in 2008 and next year I became the president and was president for the 100-year anniversary in 2015. That was a big deal, because (GFWC) is, nationally, one of the oldest community service organizations around.
“And, in all my time, never have I seen the group not be enthusiastic or not dedicated to community service. Members come and go, but we’ve always had amazing numbers and amazing women.”
The Woman’s Club of Zephyrhills
Where: 38545 Fifth Ave., Zephyrhills
Details: Founded in 1915, the club, with about 80 members, is dedicated to community service, civic participation and educational programs. Members work together in the spirit of friendship for the betterment of the community, and support local national and international relief efforts. The club has a more than 100-year history of community service and is open to any woman 18 years of age or older. The club’s outreach includes education, scholarships, supporting local food banks and charitable, nonprofit organizations, and more.
Published October 12, 2022