"Our mission is women helping women," said Judy Kellner, 51-year member and current vice president of the Tamaqua Business and Professional Women's (BPW) Club, during the club's 65-year anniversary celebration held recently.

"The club is wonderful. I've networked and developed great friendships locally and from all over the country."

"We work to elevate the standards of working women," said Jean Towle, 35-year member and current secretary of the Tamaqua BPW. "In addition, everyone comes together to make new friends and simply have a great time."

She added that BPW/PA is a statewide organization of over 1,600 members in 75 local organizations and 12 districts throughout the state. The organization is a leading advocate for working women in our state.

"We work on all issues that touch women's lives and sponsor programs and scholarships to improve women's lives and careers," said Towle.

Organized in 1919, the Pennsylvania Federation (BPW/PA) is one of the charter members of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc.

"The BPW was one of the first women's organizations to formally endorse the Equal Rights Amendment in 1937, and has continued to lead the drive for ratification ever since," said Nancy Stephens, a six-year member and current club president.

"Since its inception, the Pennsylvania Federation has initiated programs such as: Luncheon Honoring Women in Government, National Business Women's Week Projects, Workshops for Women, Youth Conferences, Leadership Training and Mentoring."

Once a month the club meets to discuss women's issues and to take part in various programs or listen to well-informed speakers about many topics concerning women's rights or the community.

"Over the years, our club continues to host fun programs, knowledgeable speakers and community-minded activities," said Louise Jewells, who has been a member for 51 years.

The club has endorsed many area projects, including the purchase of cancer research equipment, victims' flood relief, scholarships, interest free loans to members, Math Counts programs, donations of food/clothing to the Tamaqua Salvation Army, contributing to the Schuylkill Women in Crisis program, supporting local American Cancer Society, taking part in a number of local community events, donating to the Tamaqua Public Library and supporting women's services at both the Allentown and Wilkes-Barre Veterans Hospitals.

"Our goal is to promote full participation, equity and economic self-sufficiency for America's working women," added Towle, who also serves as the chairman of the Tamaqua Spirit of Christmas and district consultant with the Pottsville Free Library.

"I remember when all the women in Tamaqua would wear fancy hats and put on their best before going out, especially to attend one of our club meetings," said Jewells.

"Over the years I've made many friends and had a lot of fun," recalled Jewells as she described the faux-style fashion show held during the club's 65-year celebration.

Choosing to retire, Jewells closed her beautician shop Jan. 1, after operating it for 55 years in Tamaqua.

The Tamaqua BPW, chartered in 1947, meets every first Tuesday from September to June at La Dolce Casa in Tamaqua. Any working women interested in joining the club are encouraged to stop by the next meeting; call President Stephens at (570) 668-6059; or visit the BPW/PA website at www.BPWPA.org [2].

"Our club doesn't have many new members to fill the spot of aging members," said Stephens. "Our club is open to all working women."

When asked about her favorite memory, Jewells summed it up in one word.

"Fellowship."