Junior Women’s Club of Fairfield celebrate 50 years

Five decades of alumnae gathered at the Burr Homestead on Sept. 24 to cap off their yearlong celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Junior Women’s Club of Fairfield. Nearly 100 women reunited to recognize this milestone.

The Junior Women’s Club of Fairfield, a local organization devoted to community service, is the force behind A Visit to Santa’s House, Touch-a-Truck, and the Fifth Grade Spelling Bee. Since 1965, funds and volunteer hours have been donated to countless charities, including Alpha Community Services, Cardinal Shehan Center, Brady’s Smile, Burroughs Community Center, Habitat for Humanity, and Mercy Learning Center. As Co-Presidents, Cheryl Eustace and Jen Hinkle attest, “We are not solely a fundraising club. Our focus is service, so we partner with charitable organizations that need our time as much as our financial support. Our members join the club to participate in hands-on projects and cite their favorite memories as those spent reading to preschoolers, making blankets for preemies, and building homes for families in need.”

Eustace and Hinkle represent a long line of passionate members — many who have gone on to hold positions as town officials, teachers, lawyers, and small business owners. As noted by 2004-2005 JWC President, Leonora Campbell, “This is a club of jugglers. A typical member balances her time among several civic groups, numerous family commitments, and demanding careers. As the saying goes, if you want something done well, ask a busy person.”

The club’s 50th year has been filled with projects that celebrate the JWC’s long heritage of “friendship through service” — the organization’s original motto. As a lasting tribute to the community, the club kicked off their anniversary year in January with a $2500 donation to the Burr Gardens Tea House restoration. “The JWC’s generous support enabled us to complete a project that will benefit the town for years to come!” notes Laura Fasano, Chair of the Burr Gardens Tea House Restoration Committee. After hosting A Visit to Santa’s House for nearly 30 years at the Burr Homestead, the JWC felt this special contribution to the historic property was the perfect symbol of the club’s longstanding role in Fairfield. On April 1, an official proclamation acknowledging the club’s outstanding history of service in the community was read by First Selectman, Mike Tetreau, declaring April 8, 2015 “JWC Day” in Fairfield.

Yet another aspect of this banner year is “50 Shades of Service,” a playfully named collection of alumnae memories and testimonials, which has been running on the club’s Facebook page and website since January. Each entry portrays a commitment to service and to fellow members — a testament to the fact that the Junior Women’s Club functions as an extended family. “What impressed me most at the party was how many JWC alumnae have remained close friends – some groups still meet on a monthly basis,” reflects Kristine Egan, JWC Publicity Chair.

To honor all five decades of community service, the organization’s membership drive — held on JWC Day — was themed “Celebrate Service.” Prospective members were invited to join in five different hands-on projects that represented past partnerships with local charities. A food drive for the CT Food Bank, a blanket-making workshop for Brady’s Smile, and IV Pole decorations for neighboring hospitals were among a few of the activities.

The anniversary projects came full circle at the September party when a plaque was presented from the club to Fasano on behalf of the newly finished Burr Gardens Tea House. “It was a triumphant moment to see guests visit the renovated structure and make plans to return with friends and family,” said Fasano.

The atmosphere was electric as old friends reconnected and different generations exchanged stories. Fond memories were recalled beside the giant interactive timeline and a bulletin board filled with newspaper clippings and photos, all documenting the club’s illustrious 50 year history. Several “President’s Books” — elaborate scrapbook-style time capsules — were also on display for guests to peruse and admire.

The party itself was a collaborative effort, typical of this extraordinary group of volunteers. Former Club President, Kim Battista, a Holland Hill teacher and owner of Kimmie Cakes, donated a beautiful cake to the event, while current member and former Board Member, Diane Stocker, created the floral centerpieces throughout the space. Juliette Tiriolo, current JWC Vice President and working mom of three, devoted the entire morning of the party to setting up the event space.  “The Junior Women’s Club has always been full of talented women whose skills are limitless! Everything we do, from scholarship fundraisers to tracking down alumnae for this event, is a team effort,” explains Martha Robinson, JWC President from 1997 to 1999.

The club has also established a strong reciprocal relationship with local businesses. Ganim’s Nursery, a favorite among JWC members, generously lent the club spectacular flowering trees for the event and sends festive wreaths to A Visit to Santa’s House each year. The evening’s caterer, The Falcon’s Nest, hails from Fairfield Ludlowe High School, one of the schools benefitting from the annual JWC Scholarships.

In the earliest years of the club, membership hovered at 100 women. Today, due to increased volunteer opportunities at the schools and other organizations, plus the rising number of women who work full-time outside the home, the current membership averages 30 members each year. Current JWC Treasurer, Jane Corbett boasts, “’Small and mighty’ is our favorite saying! Despite a smaller team, the club still manages to produce their signature events, raising nearly $25,000 each year for scholarships and charity.” Deirdre Ullman, a JWC alumna, points out that “whenever I attend a town-wide meeting for the PTA or girl scouts, I always see JWC members and alumnae. These are some of the hardest working women in Fairfield!”

As the first 50 years come to a close, the JWC of Fairfield is already looking ahead to the next 50 years. Marianne Mellor, the club’s second President, who served in 1966, observed that “adapting to the changing needs of local charities and serving them in a way that intersects with the strengths — and schedules — of the current membership is a constant evolution.”

To find out what’s next on the Junior Women’s Club calendar or to attend a monthly meeting, visit jwcfairfield.com.

JWC-Photo-#1

JWC-Photo-#2

JWC-Photo-#3

JWC-Photo-#4

JWC-Photo-#5

JWC-Photo-#6

JWC-Photo-#7

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. Fairfield Sun, 1000 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress