Woman’s Club: Helping others since 1919

The Woman’s Club of Claremont is celebrating its 100th year in 2019—an entire century of supporting and giving back to the community.

The club has been going strong for the past 100 years thanks to a devoted membership and successful charity events. The goal of the club, says club president Jory Rickman, is to raise money for local nonprofits, hospitals and other programs across Claremont, from Shoes That Fit to House of Ruth.

VIDEO: Woman’s Club president Jory Rickman talks about their contributions

“The main keyword I would say is we support [the community],” she said. “We love being a part of the community.”

The club sits in a beautiful Craftsman-style building that has its place in Claremont history—an old photograph from the turn of the 20th century shows one of the first classes of Pomona College students standing out front. Ms. Rickman says the club is blessed to keep it.

“Most of the clubs have had to dissolve and sell their property, and we’re fortunate enough that we keep it going,” she said.

The club’s roots stretch back to 1917, when a group of Claremont women met together to sew and knit for World War I soldiers, according to Judy Wright in her book Claremont: A Pictorial History. Two years later, the women decided to make it a regular thing, initially calling themselves the “Get Together Club.”

The club purchased their current headquarters that year, for $1,500. Prior to the purchase, Ms. Rickman said, the building was used for packing citrus.

“Following the New England tradition of a strong sense of community service, profound commitment to education, and a frugality combined with energy and determination, this group of women was to become a valuable part of the life of the community through their philanthropic and civic activities,” Ms. Wright wrote.

The club’s interests back then were indicative of Prohibition-era America; Ms. Wright writes that one of their early concerns was gambling in the Village, asking the council in 1924 to “clean up gambling for the sake of a moral community.”

During World War II, Ms. Rickman said, the club raised money to help those fighting abroad.

Prior to Ms. Rickman’s leadership, past president Adele Stagner worked to refurbish the club building to its current charm, repainting the exterior and working on making it ADA accessible.

The Woman’s Club is part of a long tradition of female leaders who have shaped Claremont into what it is today. From Ms. Wright, to Ellen Browning Scripps to Helen Renwick, the influence of women in the City of Trees has been indispensible.

Ms. Rickman has been club president for six years, and a member for eight. She has a family history with women’s clubs—her mother was part of the women’s club in her Pennsylvania hometown while Jory was growing up. “That’s how it became near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I grew up knowing about it and know what it is.”

Now the head of Claremont’s club, she has helped give back to the community in a number of different ways. The largest event of the year is Bunco for Breast Cancer, an event that fills the grand ballroom every October.

“Everybody’s eating, drinking, playing Bunco,” Ms. Rickman said. “It’s loud, it’s festive and it’s really a successful event.”

Money raised through donations and a silent auction is given to local hospitals in the area. Recently, they donated $3,200 to San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland to go toward a new mammogram machine.

Another event, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, features champagne and a light breakfast, with the proceeds going to help battered women.

The upcoming Over the Rainbow event on February 23 will feature a fashion show that aims to raise funds for the Foothill Family Shelter, which helps homeless women and children.

“We try to keep it local, and we try to do good things,” Ms. Rickman said.

They rent the building out to those in town who want a grand reception, from business events to awards receptions to memorial services. After covering operational costs, the money raised from those events goes back into the community.

The club focuses on local concerns, giving money not just to nonprofits such as Shoes That Fit and House of Ruth, but also to local schools, art programs and music departments.

The Woman’s Club will hold a 100th anniversary gala on Friday, May 3. Ms. Rickman promises a grand affair.

The club is open to women 18 and over, and Ms. Rickman notes that current members ages range from early 30s to over 100 years old. Luncheons are held once a month, and are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Each luncheon features a speaker from a local nonprofit. Membership fees are just $45 a year.

More information can be found on its website at womansclubofclaremont.com.

“We’re doing good things,” Ms. Rickman said.

—Matthew Bramlett



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