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Western Pocono Women’s Club celebrates 50 years

Pam Borger has been a member of the Western Pocono Women’s Club for eight years.

“But sometimes it seems longer because my mom is one of the charter members,” said Borger, who was the emcee of the club’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Luau Luncheon recently.

Six of the 24 charter members were at the luau, including Borger’s mom, Patricia Mackes.

One of the highlights of her 50 years in the club was a visit to Harrisburg.

“First lady Ginny Thornburgh invited members of the horticulture committee to the governor’s mansion, which was beautifully decorated for Christmas,” said Mackes.

For 17 years, the club maintained the flower bed at the intersection in front of the Chestnuthill Diner. One year, Mackes entered the flower bed into a state horticulture competition.

Their flower garden won a prestigious award. Two club members and their husbands went to meet the governor and first lady.

The club no longer maintains that flower bed because the traffic increased at that intersection and because a car went through the flower garden and into the side of the diner. It became too much of a risk.

Carollee Brue, Donna Coleman, Jane Heckman, Liz Hurley and Donna Mackes were the other five charter members present.

Club initiatives

The club’s motto is “When you give of yourself, you truly give.”

It is a motto that has resonated with Vicki Connor, vice president and a member for 38 years.

“I joined the club as a student at East Stroudsburg University. I was in it for years, stopped and then came back when I retired from teaching. I was the most active with the club when I was home with my kids,” Connor said.

She describes the club as being a good combination of “service and social. There is such a variety of things that our club does.”

She initiated the Christmas Cards for the Military project, where the club teams up with local Girl Scouts to hand make Christmas cards for the military, Valor residents in Jonas and hospitalized veterans.

“We take old Christmas card fronts, glue on paper and write personalized messages,” Connor said.

She obtained two bookshelves and keeps them stocked with children’s books for anyone who wants to take a book. One is at the Chestnuthill Township Building and the other is at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Express Care in Brodheadsville.

After a hurricane hit Haiti, the club gathered to sew dresses for women in need.

The club has made quilts and blankets for hospitalized children, the elderly and those in hospice. Meals on Wheels clients receive a blanket on their birthday.

“I really enjoy Project Healing Waters,” said Fern Smith, club president and a member for more than 20 years. “We make hamburgers and serve salad. The veterans enjoy the meal and their day out.”

During Project Healing Waters, the club partners with Trout Unlimited and the Indian Mountain Rod and Gun Club.

“The men help the veterans get their fishing rods ready and assist with their fishing technique and later the women serve lunch,” Connor said.

Throughout the year, the club maintains the flower beds at the fairgrounds in Gilbert and the flower beds at the Western Pocono Memorial Park.

Each year, the club awards two Pleasant Valley High School seniors with college scholarships.

Their main fundraiser occurs at the West End Fair each August. Their food stand is known for its homemade strawberry shortcake and variety of soups, Mackes said.

“It is wonderful to be among generations of women who do a lot for little recognition. They have done so many good things,” state Rep. Rosemary Brown said during a conversation with those seated near her.

Club’s history

In 1890, “A newspaper woman who wrote under the pen name of Jennie June extended an invitation to women’s clubs throughout the United States to join her to fight ignorance, injustice, and inequality. Her determination inspired more than 60 clubs from across the nation to meet in New York to form the General Federation of Women’s Clubs,” Borger said.

In 1970, 24 charter members wanted to make a difference in their community and wanted to extend Jennie June’s legacy to the West End. They formed the West End Junior Women’s Club.

The club joined the GFWC in May of 1971 and changed its name to the Western Pocono Women’s Club.

Club’s future

The club meets at Effort United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month.

In addition to discussing club business and upcoming events, their meetings include informative programs.

“We will have a new member night, covered dish and fashion show during the meeting on Oct. 18,” Mackes said.

The club currently has 54 members.

Smith’s goal is to continue to grow the club and have the younger, newer members become more involved - to learn from the generation before them and take the club onward.

“We’ll see what the next 10 years brings,” Smith said.

For more information: www.westernpoconowomensclub.org.

The Western Pocono Women's Club held its 50th anniversary celebration and luau luncheon recently. From left, Monroe County Commissioner Sharon Laverdure and state Rep. Rosemary Brown chat with Connie Johnson, who was club president in 1984, and Linda Kresge, a member for six years. STACI L. GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Pam Borger introduces six of the 24 charter members in attendance as the Western Pocono Women's Club held its 50th anniversary celebration and luau luncheon recently.