Winters Fortnightly Club celebrates 100 years of service to community

Aaron Geerts/Winters Express Winters Women’s Fortnightly Club President Peggy Kelly, left, and Barbara Thomas, treasurer, lead a recent meeting. (Aaron Geerts/Winters Express)

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Just like a fine wine, the Winters Women’s Fortnightly club has aged well with a vintage that stretches back to 100 years. As this club of savvy, proactive and community-minded women celebrate its centennial anniversary, it’s important to reflect on the impact they’ve made on Winters.

Rewind to May of 1922: seven Winters women — six more than enough to make a difference in the world — wanted to do something give back to their community. With their will came the birth of the Fortnightly Club, with their meetings of once every two weeks becoming the namesake of the club.

“They originally had a bridge section (the card game), a gardening section a music section, etcetera. Those people met every two weeks then had a general meeting every two weeks as well so they always had something going,” said Peggy Kelly, club president and Senior Citizen of the Year. “What we’ve continued to do is the community service aspect. We earn money through various things like the fashion shows, selling things at the Friends of the Library Christmas Bazaar and different things like that. We make money so that we can give it back.”

The money given back has gone to Youth Day, Fourth of July fireworks, the FFA, AFS, the Winters Middle School music program and scholarships around $1,000 to $2,000 awarded to young, ambitious women who have a resume filled with community service and who seek to further their post-high school education in any capacity. All of it done because of the fervent desire these women have to help their community thrive.

When asked why it’s important to have a strong base of female leadership in the community, Kelly had simply this to say, “So the men know what to do.”

For 100 years, the matriarchs of the Winters community have led by example of how to give back to one’s community. Although the club is comprised of mostly-senior ladies, its arms are open to new members of any age.

“We get camaraderie out of it for one, and the good feeling that comes out of doing things for the community,” Kelly explained. “We’re also really laxed. As long as I’m president, there’s no ‘Robert’s Rule of Order.’ The fact is – I got to tell ya – it’s such a neat bunch of women. There’s no bickering, nobody gets their panties in a wad and it’s really a great group. All you have to do is say, ‘I need…’ and we’re on it.”

When asked about the drive of the organization, Kelly maintains that it’s just the generation that comprises it. A generation with respect instilled in it and a knowing of the importance of working together. Unfortunately, the club has lost some amazing members along the way, but the scholarships named in their honor carry on their legacy of selflessness.

“Our scholarships have been named have been named after our members who’ve passed away as a memorial. Isabel Snow, she worked so hard on fashion shows, so when she passed away we named it the ‘Isabel Snow Memorial Scholarship.’ We had that for two years,” said Kelly. “Then Charlotte Carter passed away and named it after her. Then Darlene Benson, and she was the one who taught me how to do fashion shows. We believe by doing this we’re honoring the people who worked so hard to have the scholarships.”

While May is the 100-year mark for the Fortnightly Club, it’s also the 30-year anniversary of this reporter’s grandmother, Barbara Thomas, as treasurer of the club.         

“It’s been great over the years and definitely fun having Peggy as our leader,” said Thomas. “We just support a lot of different groups so it’s been very rewarding.”

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