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Commentary: Giving voice to those who have no voice

Brenda D Allison.jpg
courtesy photo
Brenda Allison

Do you know that we have a club in town that has been involved in Women’s activism since 1928? The GFWC Macomb Woman’s Club is a local Club under the umbrella of the International General Federation of Women’s Clubs founded in 1890 dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service with over 80,000 members throughout the world.

The Macomb Woman’s Club has over 120 members and has distinguished records on issues of historical importance to:

  • Women
  • Children
  • Education and Libraries
  • The Environment
  • Arts and Culture
  • Civic Engagement and Outreach
  • Health and Wellness

Women’s clubs have earned a reputation as a powerful force in the fight against domestic violence. Their Signature Program: Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention goal, is to increase awareness of and help prevent the widespread occurrence of domestic and sexual abuse and violence against women in communities across the nation. GFWC is a powerful voice for those who have no voice.

Some highlights of historical achievements of Women’s Clubs throughout the nation include:

  • 1899 – clubwomen established the national model for juvenile court law
  • 1906 –  A letter writing campaign helped secure passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act
  • WWI – established the War Service Fund which trained and sent 100 women overseas to operate canteens for American soldiers
  • WWII – clubwomen raised $150 Million in the  “Buy the Bomber” campaign which supplied 431 planes for war service
  • On June 14,1914 the GFWC endorsed the suffrage of women. Women’s suffrage may not have become a reality without their historic support.
  • 1917  Clubwomen were instrumental in getting Painted street lines on asphalt highways
  • 1930 – GFWC is credited with establishing 75% of all the nation’s public libraries
  • 1960 – A longtime advocate of traffic safety, the GFWC Women’s Crusade for Seatbelts resulted in the installation of more than one million car seat belts in one year’s time

The local Macomb Club has a history of achievements by supporting the local community with funding, service projects and providing nine annual scholarships for High School Students interested in Leadership, Arts and Music, Math, and Technology. The Club continued their fundraising efforts for the community even when they weren’t meeting during the pandemic by having a drive by collection where monies could be collected with no contact.

A “Facing the Storm” statue honoring the social service efforts of all women, past, present, and future, was placed in Chandler Park by the Macomb Woman’s Club. It recognizes the efforts of the early pioneers of female social activism who lived in or near Macomb. Eight early pioneering women are memorialized by name on the statue while hundreds of donor bricks in the patio and sidewalk give reference to individuals, organizations and businesses who support this memorial as well as naming additional women to be honored and remembered. The statue is on the west side of Chandler Park just north of the Macomb Square. It is a beautiful bronze statue of a woman and little girl in costumes of the 1900’s standing against the wind which represents the struggle. Visit the statue and feel how the efforts of women helped better the world for others.

Annually the Macomb Club gives a “Facing the Storm” Humanitarian Award posthumously. This year award recipient, Alta Sargent, a 62-year member of the GFWC Macomb Woman’s Club, will be honored May 4 at the Macomb Field House at 1:30 pm. The public is invited to attend. Alta was a tireless volunteer for our community.

The Macomb Woman’s Club has a long and distinguished history of volunteering efforts to improve lives and communities.

Brenda Allison is President of the Macomb Women’s Club.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.