February 12, 2014 - By Meg Peters
(click for larger version)
Renee Miron-Alimpich stands with Sue Baber in front of the wall the Twp. Library dedicated to the General Federation of Women's Club Lake Orion. The photos on the wall demonstrate the timeline of change for the library, which began in an empty room of the Village Office building downtown. (click for larger version)
Review Staff Writer
One hundred years ago the Lake Orion Literary Club came together and rallied for a library.
That same group, having evolved into the LO chapter of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC) over the decades, is celebrating their centennial year of existence within the very walls they helped create: The Orion Township Public Library.
The event is Saturday, February 15 from 11:00 a.m. until 1 p.m., and will provide refreshments, keynote speakers, and a walk down memory lane.
Lake Orion's first library was in a second-story room in Lake Orion Village Hall.
"Members of the club back then had begged, borrowed and bought books, and one woman even donated 500 volumes of her personal library in order to get the thing going," Renee Miron-Alimpich said, club member.
The Lake Orion library was founded in 1926, 12 years after the literary club came together in 1914. Lake Orion's first librarian was a club member, as most of the current librarians are now, and was paid $60 a month.
In 1929 Orion Township took over, and levied a one-half mill for continued support of the library.
The GFWC is both a state-wide and national organization whose original cause was to provide women an avenue for self-empowerment and education, and gradually changed its emphasis to community service.
The GFWC Lake Orion provides funds to Lake Orion community services, Haven of Oakland County and Heifer International to name a few organizations, and also provides scholarships to lucky LOHS seniors for continued education.
What many people may not know is apart from founding the Library, the GFWC also named the East Lawn Cemetery on Orion Rd and garnered funds for the cemetery's WWI monument.
"I don't think people realize our club has 100 years of history," Miron-Alimpich said.
"We have a lot of things that people don't really know about, or remember," club member Sue Baber chimed in.
Baber represents the fourth generation of women in her family to be a part of a woman's club, and joined the GFWC in 1968 when women still wore their pearls.
"There was a time when we wore hats and gloves to come to the meeting. You always had a hat to wear," Baber said. "We've really changed fortunately. We are a much more casual group, back then it was an effort to get into the club, and there's not much effort now, in fact come and join us," Baber said.
When the study club was first formed in 1914, 28 women debated "whether the vote would be injurious to women," and answered roll call by explaining why they would like to vote.
The Lake Orion Literacy Club officially changed to the Lake Orion Women's Club in 1924, and then to the GFWC Lake Orion in 1986.
Around 35 ladies are in the club today and meet once a month at the library to discuss future projects and community issues.
Their goal is "to have more women join just for the empowerment of it. The more people means more opportunities to be able to do more things," Miron-Alimpich said. "One of the biggest things we like to focus on is the scholarship," she said.
The GFWC will be selling 2014 year calendars at the centennial event, featuring pictures of Lake Orion past and present and the history of the club. All proceeds will go to the library as a token of the GFWC's appreciation.
"It's just been amazing to see the outreach the library has," Miron-Alimpich said. "My husband and I moved here in 1979 and the library was a little small building on M-24. Now it's this facility here. It's one of the busiest libraries around, it's just wonderful," she said.