Club History

The influence of women banding together in solidarity has definitely been felt in Williston since a small group of ladies met in 1914 to form an organziation called the Civic League, which functioned as such for eight years until becoming a federated club in 1922.  They were concerned with local problems and were active in trying to create a caring, helpful community in which to live.
Though small, the group began looking for a meeting place.  The city has offered to allow a small building to be placed at the City Park.  An old house offered by a local citizen was to have been moved, but it burned, leaving a vacant lot on Noble Avenue near the current Video Central building.  This property was given to the club members for their use.  However, abou this time, late 1923, the group disbanded because of some "disagreements."
Three years later, six ladies regrouped and the club was functional until 1933, when it disbanded again for 10 years.  Early in the 1940s, an attempt was made to reorganize.  About htis time the Seaboard Coastline Freight Depot in Williston was to be demolished.  Emma Rutland (Mrs. L.W. Jr.) contacted the railroad, and they agreed to give the building to the club if they would remove it.  Mr. Leonardos Crumpton and Mr. A.D. Beamer agreed to tear it down, board by board and reassemple it as a clubhouse on the Noble Avenue site.
Dollie Smith (Mrs. James) was elected to serve as the first president with Allie Carson (Mrs. R.A.), vice president, Sue Wellman (Mrs. Herman), secretary and Fay Burns (Mrs. Van), treasurer filling the other offies.  Other members included Jeffie Wilson (Mrs. W.C.), Edna Scott (Mrs. J.K.) and Emma Rutland (Mrs. L.W., Jr.).
The first project was to pay for the cost of the building, $6,335.20, a challenging undertaking for a small group with limited funds.  The club met on the first Monday of the month at 3:30 p.m. with annual dues of 50 cents.  A maximum of $1 per month for electricity and water was charged by the city.
Because of World War 2, a military base with 5,000 soldiers was established at the Williston Airport area.  A major project of the club was to use the clubhouse as a USO Club for entertainment for the servicemen.
The club members began a lending library, donating personal books and then paying 15 cents to borrow them.  This was the origina of the Williston Public Library.  They were instrumental in the establishment of the first local hospital, purchasing the first bed, and they published the first club cookbook.
Community involvement included the first "Clean Up Campaign" for the city with a beautification plant sale and donating money to begin the hospital laboratory.  The club was one of four orgainzer of the Williston Civic Scholarship Fund, which has continued through 2008.  Primary fundraisers were bazaars and rummage sales.
The club took their lending library to a new level as they worked with the country government to establish the Central Florida Library with a bookmobile and a Williston branch.  "Yard of the Week" recognition was begun, along with an annual flower show and a fundraiser for scholarship money.  Annual club dues were raised to $1.00, and the first "club china" was purchased at $1.00 each for 85 place settings.  The hospital Pink Ladies Organization was begun by the club along with welcome teas to honor teachers, the popular 60's "Fashion Shows" and Christmas Tour of Homes.  The new Memorial Hospital was built with the club donating $400 to install drapes in the rooms, and club members helped administer Oral Polio Vaccine to 2,400 local citizens.
The club celebrated their 50th anniversary as a GFWC club as they worked to have street names replaced with the quadrant numbering system so home mail deliver service could begin.  They sold house numbers and put together a directory of addresses.  Other supported charities included CARE, Cancer Fund, Radio Free Europe and the building of the Hacienda Girls Ranch for girls without homes.  The Club Member of the Year Award began. 
In 1973, the cost for utilities was $12.00 per month and insurance coverage was $14.00.  The clubhouse needed major renovations to upgrade to a public building code.  The cost of repairs to the aged building and lack of adequate parking led to a decision to sell the clubhouse and look for new property to build a new clubhouse.  It was sold for $25,000 in 1979.
In the early 1980s dues were increased to $15 per year and the club meetings were moved from 3:30 on Monday afternoons to Monday evenings, to make it easier for working women to participate.  Because there was no clubhouse, meetings were held in the Methodist Church, Elementary School and Perkins State Bank.
In 1982, three acres of land were purchased for $3,000 from the family of Mrs. L.W. Rutland, Jr.  for the new clubhouse.  This began the process of seeking an architect and builder.  Mr. Joseph J. DeBrita, Jensen Beach, Florida, a specialist in colonial design, was chosen and Smith Construction Company of Williston was awarded the bid at the cost of $126,951.00.  The ground breaking was held on June 7, 1989, and the dedication of the $150,000 facility was held on October 22, 1989 with a $42,000.00 mortgage.
New projects included honoring local police, Student Day in Government, repainting Williston High School, promoting mammograms for club women, and startup of the Williston Peanut Festival as well as Club Department Chairman of the Year Award.
The first Follies in 1983, "Very Off Broadway," was a joint general/junior project and the first of seven shows raising a great deal of money for the new clubhouse building.  Other shows were: 1985, "Hats off to America," and 1987, "Glory of Love, Williston Style."
This decade began with continued efforts to pay for the clubhouse.  Four more Follies shows were presented to assit with the mortgage payments: "Celebrating a Century," 1990; "One Stage," 1992; "World Revue," 1994; "Goin' Country" 1996.  The club presented its first dinner theater with the play "Steel Magnolias."  Within five years, in 1995, with the help of Perkins State Bank the club held a "mortgage burning celebration."  The new clubhouse spurred a surge in membership, growing to over 150 members in this decade.
Assuming responsibility of the Williston Arts and Crafts Festival in 1990 from the Art League, the club continues the annual event.  Renovating of the Williston High School Auditorium was undertaken with $46,500.00 raise to put in 500 new seats, sound booth, stage lighting, flooring and curtains.  The club adopted a highway in front of the hospital to clean and the annual "Christmas Tour of Homes" was held again.
Mystery Dinner Theaters gave club members and their husbands the opportunity to express their thespian talents while supporting the March of Dimes.  1998: "Murder, Music and Mayhem"; 1000: "The Mild, Mild West."  The club joined the Williston Chamber of Commerce and began catering dinners for them and other groups.
The club increased its involvement and influence on the FFWC during these years with numerous member assuming responsibilities as officers (Bunny Sandlin: Corresponding and Recording Secretary, 2nd and 1st Vice President and President Elect) and chairmen (Lisa Posteraro, Editor, and, Brenda Philpot assistant Editor of Florida Clubwoman).  The club was twice honored as the "Outstanding Club in the FFWC."
With the beginning of the new millennium, Williston moved to a new level in the FFWC when our favorite daughter, Bunny Sandlin, began her 2000-02 term at President with an administration theme of "Volunteers in Harmony."  Club members who served with her included: Brenda Philpot (Corresponding Secretary), Marion Cason (President's Assistant), Nancy Ethridge (Protocal Chairman), Lisa Posteraro (Florida Clubwoman Editor) and Bobbie Smith (Juniorette Advisory Chairman).
In 2004, our club was honored to have Bobbie Smith named as the GFWC Florida "Volunteer of the Year" for her outstanding volunteer service.  She was recognized for her contributions not only in the federation, but in other civic gourps, church, and family as well. 
Supporting the FFWC President's Project, "Heart Health" members purchased pedometers and stepped into fitness.  A Williston Juniorette Club was begun by the club for girls ages 13-18.  Friendship baskets, circulated among departments helped members become better acquainted with one another.  The club purchased a puppy for Canine Companions, co-sponsored with the junior club, a high school sophomore for the HOBY youth leadership seminar, participated in the Relay for Life and Christmas for the Children community projects, and raised money by holding Country Style Dinners and the Arts and Crafts Festival.
Members' artistic abilities were enhanced with classes in oil painting, stamping, quilling, basket weaving, T-shirt designs, decorations and crafts.  This creativity was responsible for many awards won at FFWC Distrct 5 and State Art Festivals.
Popular Mystery Dinner Theaters to support the March of Dimes continued throughout this decade: 2000, "Reading Aunt Louise's Will"; 2001, "Little Red School House"; 2002, "Costume Party Caper"; 2004, "Who is Getting Married in the Morning?"; 2005, "High Jinks on High Seas"; 2006, "Suspect Hollywood"; 2007, "Murder on the Rebound"; 2008, "Trouble at the Tropicana."
Support was given to schools through judging speech contests, donations of awards for spelling bees and speech contests, collecting of supplies for teachers, baking goodies for Teacher Appreciation Day and planting a tree at an elementary school.
The club provided and served coffee and cookies at the VA hospital monthly, collected pop tops for cancer treatment, cell phones for military personnel, as well as mailed care packages to Iraq.  Operation Smile received great support and one of our club members went on an international trip to Brazil in 2006.
Throughout the years, members of the GFWC Williston Woman's Club have indeed worked to create a caring, helpful community through projects as vaired as are the members of this club.  Not a concern has left untouched, and truly the acts of service have been the pleasure of the members of this organization.