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Nonprofit view: Woman’s Club of Westminster has served Carroll County for over a century

A longstanding partner in enhancing the quality of life in Carroll County is the GFWC Woman’s Club of Westminster Inc., a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) International, a nonprofit organization of 3,500 clubs dedicated to improving communities through volunteer service. The Woman’s Club of Westminster celebrates 106 years of service this year.

In 1911, Carrie Rhinehart Wantz invited women in the community to form a reading club to study art, architecture, history and other subjects. The club’s discussions led to engagement in civic matters. Its first civic action was a successful Fly Crusade in 1912 to heighten awareness of the health hazards presented by flies and encourage homeowners to install window screens. In 1913, the club officially became the Woman’s Club of Westminster Inc. and joined the GFWC.

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In 1925, the Woman’s Club of Westminster partnered with the GFWC and Good Housekeeping Magazine to complete a survey on household technology, which led to a five-part home equipment primer to educate families on labor-saving devices. One result of this nationwide door-to-door survey was that “homemaker” was added to the list of occupations in the 1930 U.S. Census.

Today the club has 88 members involved in volunteer work in Carroll County. Members organize into committees to focus on Community Service Projects, or CSPs, encompassing the arts, conservation, education, home life, public issues and international outreach. The committees work independently and in conjunction with other community organizations. To highlight a few projects:

The Arts CSP organizes three art exhibits a year at the Carroll Nonprofit Center, featuring the work of many artists. Members support the Carroll County Arts Council by serving as volunteers for the PEEPshow, the Wreath Festival and other Arts Council initiatives.

The Conservation CSP maintains the garden at Belle Grove Square in Westminster in partnership with the city. In 2018, it formed a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster to teach budding gardeners the art of planting, maintaining and weeding.

Each year the Education CSP organizes Read Across Carroll County in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Thanks to generous support from Penguin Random House, the Education CSP distributes thousands of books to elementary school students, and organizes more than 70 community volunteers to read to students in 102 classrooms.

In 2006, the GFWC identified domestic violence awareness and prevention as an organization-wide priority. To date, clubs across the country are approaching $100 million in donations to support local safe houses and nationwide hotlines. The Homelife CSP provides toiletries for residents of the safe house and partners with Habitat for Humanity to help new homeowners furnish and equip their homes.

The International Outreach CSP has formed a sewing team. Last year members created 268 dresses which were sent to relief organizations helping children living in developing areas of the world. Additional projects include support of Heifer Project International and World Food Day.

The list of important community projects supported by the Woman’s Club of Westminster Inc. is long and extends beyond Carroll County.

The GFWC Woman’s Club of Westminster Inc. meets monthly from September to May. Club co-presidents are Clare Berent and Linda Kjeldgaard. Please consider joining us!

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