Suffield Woman’s Club Observes 125th Anniversary

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SWC President Lisa Pepe displays the Connecticut State certificate the Club received, recognizing their 125th anniversary. Pictured at the anniversary celebration are, from the left: GFWC/CT President Leslie Apostalon, Suffield First Selectman Melissa Mack, Pepe, and Connecticut Representative Tami Zawistowski.

On Tuesday, June 11, the Suffield Woman’s Club gathered with special guests at the West Suffield Academy Hall to celebrate its 125th Anniversary. The Suffield Woman’s Club has a long history of taking a lead in community service, with giving back to the Town of Suffield always at the forefront. In 1894, 10 women gathered at a private home in town, to form the Woman’s Reading Club of Suffield. With programs ranging from reading, history, art and music, to lectures and community activities sponsored for the town, this small group of women also conferred through an appointed committee with Suffield’s First Selectman, and were among the first to contribute to the Emergency Aid Association since its establishment in 1903.

In 1926, it was voted to change the club’s name to the Suffield Woman’s Club and to join the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs of Connecticut (GFWC/CT). Since this time, the Suffield Woman’s Club has donated to Connecticut State Parks, sponsored Girl’s Clubs, adopted children in foreign countries, purchased band uniforms for the Suffield High School, hosted Annual Red Cross Blood Drives, acted as docents for the Phelps-Hatheway House, volunteered at the Second Chance Shop, and so much more! In recent years, the Suffield Woman’s Club donated $10,000 to the Citizens Restoring Congamond for the Babb’s Beach restoration project. The Suffield Woman’s Club also donated $7,200 and countless volunteer hours to the Suffield Historical Society to help in a garment preservation project at the Alexander King House, for which the Club received a state award last month. In the last thirty years alone, the hard work and dedication of these women has enabled them to donate over $138,000 to local organizations, including first responders, local veterans, Suffield Community Aid, The Network against Domestic Abuse, and over $61,000 in scholarships and awards to Suffield High School students. While Club archives make it possible to calculate the monetary value donated by the Suffield Woman’s Club, the hours of service given by each woman is something that never can.

After standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and the joint reading of the Collect for Women (Mary Stewart, 1904), the Suffield Woman’s Club introduced four special guest speakers. Suffield Woman’s Club President Lisa Pepe spoke on the 125-year history of the Club, including its long list of accomplishments and successes. Former Commander Jim Hunter of Suffield’s Veterans of Foreign Wars – Landry Sic Post, presented President Pepe with a Certificate of Appreciation, awarded to the Suffield Woman’s Club in thanks for the Club’s continuous support of local veterans and in congratulations for the Club’s 125th Anniversary.

The General Federation of Woman’s Clubs of Connecticut President Leslie Apostalon spoke on the global influence of the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs and commended the Suffield Woman’s Club for its extensive commitment to service.

Among many things, Suffield’s First Selectwoman Melissa Mack spoke on the power women have to make a difference in their communities. Quoting Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, First Selectwoman Mack stated, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Both President Pepe and First Selectwoman Mack highlighted the Suffield Woman’s Club’s extraordinary efforts during World War II. Club members worked at military bases, volunteered at U.S.O. drives, sold war bonds, and much more. In fact, the Suffield Woman’s Club received the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs of Connecticut award for selling $7,725 worth of war bonds (over $111,000 in today’s currency), the most of any club during that year. The Suffield Woman’s Club hopes to be an inspiration to woman everywhere and set a positive example with their dedication to community improvement through volunteer service.

Connecticut Representative Tami Zawistowski delivered kind remarks, and on behalf of Senator John Kissel and herself, introduced a State of Connecticut General Citation in recognition of the Suffield Woman’s Club’s 125th Anniversary and its Dedication and Commitment to the Suffield Community, awarded by Connecticut’s President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, and Secretary of State Denise Merrill.

Phyllis Stafford

The celebration continued with the presentation of General Federation of Woman’s Club Membership pins to four members of the Suffield Woman’s Club for their endless service. Astrid Hanzalek was honored for 60 years of membership in the Suffield Woman’s Club. Phyllis Stafford, as well as Susan Fuller and Winnie Johnson, who were unable to attend, were each honored for 65 years of membership. In reference to Club Archives, President Lisa Pepe stated, “We are woman of all ages, from different backgrounds, working together because we have one thing in common, we care…thus each member, whether for a day or for 65 years, has helped to make the Suffield Woman’s Club the icon it is today.”

Astrid Hanzalek

The Suffield Woman’s Club is a 501(c)3 organization and a proud member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC). If you wish to join this group of iconic woman, give back to your community, and become a part of this proud history, please contact Membership Chair Jean Neagle at 860-668-1876 and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to inquire about joining the Suffield Woman’s Club. A special thank you to the Suffield Woman’s Club’s 125th Anniversary Committee for making this event possible.

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