Women in Suffield have a proud history of taking the lead in community service. This is certainly true for the Suffield Woman’s Club (SWC). Whatever the century, giving back to the town and beyond has always been a priority. In 1894, 10 women gathered at a private home to form a reading club, with programs ranging from history, art and music to lectures, some of which were sponsored for the town. In the early 1900’s, according to minutes and written history of the club (compiled by Connie C. Upson in 1976), there was some “…community activity such as a small contribution to the Emergency Aid Association then being formed…and a committee appointed to confer with the Selectman about putting rubbish cans in the park and enforcing their use.”
In 1920, the club provided a float for the Sesquicentennial parade at a cost of $1750. Quite a sum for the time! At the annual meeting in 1926, the name of the club was changed to the Suffield Woman’s Club, and it was voted unanimously to join the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Connecticut.
The years of World War II increased the pace of activity for the Club. Many members worked at the Air Base, helped with USO drives, aluminum collections, kits for English women, knitting, home nursing, support of the Red Cross and sale of war bonds.
Club members have acted as Docents for the Phelps–Hatheway House, and many members volunteer for club-endorsed activities, including the Second Chance Shop. Other projects have included sponsoring a town candidates’ debate and collecting and donating items to The Network. This program year, the women have begun crafting blankets for children in need.
A few years ago, the club formed a giving committee and in 2016, gave a donation to CRC for the Babb’s restoration project. The club is especially excited about its current ongoing association with the King House Museum and the preservation of garments from centuries past that are stored in the attic. At the club’s suggestion and through their donation, the Suffield Historical Society has hired a garment preservationist to examine and catalog each garment. Club members are working with the historical society to sew padded hangers for each item, as well as labeling them. Clothing of special interest includes a revolutionary war jacket and servants’ garments.
SWC hasn’t been all work and no play. Through the years the club has held arts and crafts shows; marathon bridge, a flea market and well-attended fashion shows. And any meeting involving a meal is always a big draw!
Membership numbers have fluctuated greatly throughout the club’s history. Although much smaller than when the club was at its peak, SWC continues to contribute to the town. The last paragraph of Mrs. Upson’s history of the club says it all. “We can be proud of all that the club has contributed to the community in the past. May we continue to follow in the footsteps of those who have preceded us, and make our club even stronger in the coming years.” Hear, hear!