As the Kirkland Woman’s Club approaches its centennial in 2020, it’s easy to forget just how different life was for women nearly a century ago. While the 19th Amendment to the Constitution—which gave women the right to vote—was introduced in Congress in 1878, it wasn’t sent to the states for ratification until 1919 and was finally adopted the following year. Fashion was modernizing too, as it moved from the more restrictive forms of the Victorian era to looser-fitting garments that revealed a woman’s arms and legs. The Roaring Twenties weren’t far off.
While much has changed since then, the core principles and purpose of the Woman’s Club have not. In addition to providing a place where women can socialize, the organization aims to promote and participate in various community service projects. All of this activity emanates from a clubhouse built in 1925 that appears on the National Register of Historic Places.
History and Philanthropy
The Kirkland Woman’s Club is part of an umbrella organization called the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC). Founded in 1890, the GFWC has an impressive record of public advocacy that includes establishing more than 75 percent of the nation’s public libraries, providing support for veterans both at home and abroad, and being one of five women’s organizations chosen to participate in the ratification of the United Nations Charter. Today, the GFWC continues to address issues affecting women and families.
Philanthropic efforts of the Kirkland Woman’s Club are divided into various categories of activity. For example, with regard to education, the club provides college scholarships for selected high school seniors. For low-income families, the club arranges baby showers that dispense clothing for newborns. Let’s take a look at more of what makes the Woman’s Club a unique resource in Kirkland.
Understanding the environmental issues impacting our area is essential to finding effective ways to address them. To that end, the Woman’s Club encourages members and the community to host and participate in activities that will educate and motivate people to pursue change. This may include everything from becoming acquainted with the local flora and fauna to holding conservation fairs where groups such as the Audubon Society make a presentation. One of the club’s stellar conservation efforts was the establishment of the Federation Forest State Park by Catherine T. Montgomery. The 574-acre park protects hundreds of acres of old-growth Douglas firs, Sitka spruce and Western red cedar to this day.
Literacy and a lifetime commitment to learning are a big part of the Kirkland Woman’s Club outreach efforts. Members encourage awareness of literacy issues, holding events at a local library, making literacy-related items available to senior citizens or people with disabilities, starting a book club, or participating in local school board meetings. The GFWC is working on formalizing an educational partnership with the American Library Association.
The well-being of individuals and families can be positively affected by community partnerships that address serious issues. For example, the Woman’s Club recommends becoming familiar with and supporting organizations such as Canine Companions for Independence, Easter Seals and the March of Dimes, food banks, police and fire departments, Habitat for Humanity, the YWCA and Special Olympics. To address issues more directly, one can donate holiday food baskets for those in need, contribute toiletries to the local Rescue Mission, or participate in an adopt-a-senior program.
The International Outreach Community Service Program enables Woman’s Club members to enlarge the scope of their activities through advocacy, education and action. It is believed that through these efforts, change can occur in global friends and communities. Though club members are not physically present at these sites, there are innumerable ways to support development around the world and to ensure that donations reach the neediest. In other words: think globally, act locally. Again, this can take form in simple ways such as participating in a cultural exchange, supporting global vaccine programs, or donating sustainable livestock gifts through organizations such as Heifer International.
One of the most basic ways members can participate in public issues is to educate themselves and vote. Supporting veterans groups such as Wounded Warriors is another way to provide a public service. People can organize a Neighborhood Watch program to ensure neighborhood security or become educated on emergency preparedness to learn what to do in case of a disaster. The focus is on good citizenship and helping those who may be unable to help themselves.
Art is an important part of any community, and Woman’s Club members seek to support existing arts programs and encourage new ones. This can include music, drama, dance, theater, and arts and crafts. Students are encouraged to submit their short stories, poetry, photography, arts and crafts, and paintings to Woman’s Club contests. The club members may arrange outings to a play or concert, volunteer as docents, raise funds for arts and cultural programs, and collect musical instruments to donate to school music programs.
The Kirkland Woman’s Club encourages interested women to attend one of its luncheons, held on the first Thursday of the month, or for coffee on the third Thursday each month. The luncheon has a program associated with it, while the coffee gathering is purely social in nature. After this introduction, women can decide if they want to become dues-paying members. This welcoming attitude is what drew Urla Morgan to the Kirkland Woman’s Club six years ago, and in fairly short order she had been elected president. Urla, who currently serves as secretary, thinks of the club as a sort of modern-day “welcome wagon” for those who are new to the area. Being from a foreign land herself (she’s from Texas!), Urla appreciated the chance to get involved in this intriguing community of women, 11 of whom hail from other countries.
The Woman’s Club is sustained through member dues and facility rentals, which the club hopes to grow. Currently, regular meetings for Weight Watchers and AA are hosted, and the building is available to rent for weddings or other services.
Coming in May is the scholarship awards program for this year’s four local high school seniors, and it should prove popular. Wherever your interests may lie, the possibilities for friendship are endless, and the opportunity to contribute to community service is limited only by one’s imagination. The Kirkland Woman’s Club invites you to join them. The more, the merrier.
For more information on the Kirkland Woman’s Club, visit KirklandWomansClub.org or call 425.224.6677.