At a time when women stayed home and raised the children, many communities boasted several women’s clubs. Though the clubs provided a social outlet for women to meet, many had an educational focus on the arts. Many of these clubs made huge impacts on refining the local community through philanthropic endeavors, support of young women in the community, and educating its members.
I had the chance recently to speak to a local women’s service club, Junior Waverly. That night one of the topics of discussion was the Waverly Club’s need for new members. A few days later, I read an article in the local paper, the News-Telegram, about the Club’s history (click here to read). This was one of several articles that will be featured on the club in honor of the club’s 120th anniversary. President Nancy Ferguson closed one article mentioning that she hoped the club could continue.
Several years ago I read a book called “Bowling Alone.” At the time I was in charge of an alumni program at a university. What had historically been thought of as alumni programs, i.e chapters and members, has by in large gone by the wayside due to people just not being “joiners.” The premise of the book is that people still bowl, they just don’t join bowling leagues.
It sounds as though Waverly may be suffering the effects of this societal change. As with all things in society, be it politics, fashions, etc., the pendulum will swing. People who currently prefer spending time alone on Facebook or binge watching Netflix will find that they miss social interaction. They will want to join the bowling league, the alumni chapter, and the Waverly Club. The only problem is, will these organizations be able to survive until that time?
As I read about Waverly through the years in the newspaper, it was clear this group had survived 120 years by changing its focus as society and local needs changed. Need a local library? Need to support the war effort? Need to help young women continue their education? Waverly has identified and answered the needs of Sulphur Springs for well over a century. It may take a bit, but they will identify a new cause and women who want to help with that effort.
Be it Waverly, Junior Waverly, Tanti, Treble Clef Club, Mother’s Culture Club, Dial Study Club or any of the others, past and present, in my town or yours, we owe a debt of gratitude to these women who have made our community more than just a place to live, but rather a community that appreciates and celebrates learning, performing arts, reading, and improving the lives of others. Here is to another 120 years, Waverly!
To follow At Home on Instagram, click here.