The Downingtown Woman’s Club recently distributed a total of more than $160,000 to five local non-profit organizations before the club disbanded. Representatives of the non-profits who received the grant money, shown in the bottom row of the photo, were, left to right: Jan Leaf, director, the Lord’s Pantry; Bob Stevens, Past President, Alert Fire Co. No. 1; Thomas E. Lee III, Assistant Chief, Minquas Fire Co. No. 2 and Parry Desmond, Past President, Downingtown Area Historical Society. Elizabeth Hess, director of the Downingtown Library was unable to be at the grant award ceremony, held at the Kerr Park Gazebo.
Woman’s Club leaders in the photo were, left to right: Sue McClure, finance chair; Mary Alice Kottmeyer, secretary; Marie Hill, treasurer; Jean Walton Manning, vice president; Cynthia Lyman, president; and Eileen Schafer, outreach chair.
The Downingtown Woman’s Club was founded 103 years ago by charter members and the first official meeting was held in the Minquas Fire Co. No. 2 parlor on Sep. 21, 1914. The club Mission Statement was “To develop the educational, civic and social interests of its members and to advance the welfare of the community”. In 1922, the clubhouse at 121 Manor Avenue was purchased. To meet expenses and pay the mortgage, fundraising efforts for many years included card parties, bake sales and suppers. Over the years, the club offered financial aid and many hours of service to the Coatesville VA Hospital, Embreeville State Hospital, Pocopson Home, Salvation Army, Needlework Guild, Red Cross, CARE program, U.S Olympics, Special Olympics, American Field Service Foreign Exchange Student program and Downingtown’s Log House.
As costs related to maintaining the clubhouse continued to be prohibitive, members decided to sell it in 1989. However, the fruits of the property sale plus two willed endowments, have enabled the club to provide, more than $220,000 in educational and community grants to organizations in past years, such as the Downingtown Library, Downingtown Area Historical Society, Good Neighbor Day, Meals on Wheels, Downingtown Senior Center, Brian’s House, local fire companies, Association for the Blind, Brandywine YMCA, Bridge of Hope and Good Works. Contributions of particular note in recent years have been scholarships worth a total of $175,000 to graduating seniors from four local high schools, and $15,000 toward the 1998 construction of the gazebo in Kerr Park.
The above article was borrowed from the Downingtown Area Historical Society.
Editor’s Note: The Alert Fire Co. No. 1 used its share of Woman’s Club grant to renovate our Ladies and Mens restrooms in our hall, on the second floor of our firehouse. These two restrooms were in the original condition, from when our station was constructed in 1941. The only thing that we did to them over the years were cleaning and painting. As you can see from the photos, the recently completed renovations, by F. H. Swisher Plumbing and Heating Co., certainly brightened-up the rooms.