November 21, 2012 - Working under the motto "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm," the Oxford Women's Club is celebrating 80 years of service to the North Oakland community.
Oxford Women’s Club officers celebrate the group’s 80th anniversary – Secretary Nancy Martin, Vice President Theresa Myer, Treasurer Cathy Wendt and President Nancy Wray. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
"I think it's incredible (to be celebrating 80 years), said OWC President Nancy Wray.
The club was founded on a chilly day in November 1932. The organization was originally known as the Junior Literary Society. From the outset, the club focused on programs and meetings with an educational theme. The first charity ball yielded a profit of $15 for the milk fund.
Wray said she has tons of information on what the club did in the early years and finds it so fascinating.
"They sold war bonds, they made drapes for the Veterans' Hall, they had bake sales and luncheons," added Wray. "Anything they could do to help the war (World War II) effort in those early, early years they did it."
Like the days of old, the current club has held fundraisers as well as sponsored and participated in other events including mother/daughter lunches, art auctions, Christmas Parades, talent shows and fashion shows.
"Anything we could do to raise money for the time we did it. The community is the one that benefited from it, the school in particular," Wray said. "The profits from these activities are funneled toward one major cause - college scholarships
OWC hands out $10,000 to $12,000 in scholarships per year. Looking back, Wray said if she would have been one of the founding ladies, she would have been amazed at how much money they raised.
"For such a small group of women to raise $10,000 to $12,000 a year to give out in scholarships, that's a bundle of change," she added. "Especially when you look the other citizen organizations and it's a big deal they give out $1,000 and we give out $10,000."
During the last two years they've handed out more than $20,000 in scholarships. All they require are students to have is a C average.
"We're not looking at the superstars; they're the ones who get all the money. We're looking at the kids in the middle and if they come forward and ask for it, it's theirs. Unfortunately they don't always know about it," Wray said. "With the amount of money we have to give away, we should have people beating down the doors to come and say 'I need help.'"
The OWC has also made donations to the Oxford FISH food pantry, the Senior All Night Graduation Party, Girls' State and the camping program in the elementary school.
Wray called the OWC "a dedicated group of women who are willing to take a cause of providing scholarships to students and running with it." Currently the club has a membership of 20 women, but they're always looking for more, noted Wray.
"Some of the women are professionals such as secretaries, school personnel, bankers, insurance agents, healthcare professionals, and women who own and run their own businesses. Others of us are moms and grandmas," Wray said. "That's us."
The club gathers at member's homes monthly, except during the summer to discuss upcoming events. Currently, they are planning for the club's Wine Tasting event to be held at the end of January. For more information about the club or to join call Nancy Wray at (248) 705-7502.
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.