In the small town of Ogunquit, a group of 16 women gathered on Nov. 6, 1918, with the hope of starting a women’s club. The organizing was helped by a member of the national board of the YMCA. After several meetings, a name, “The Ogunquit Literary Club,” was chosen. Its purpose was “the mutual improvement of its members.” Thirty-eight women had joined the club by the end of the first year.
In 1921, the name of the club was changed to The Ogunquit Women’s Club. Dues were $1. Most of the meetings were in the members’ homes. The club joined the Maine Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1920, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1946.
During World War II, club donations went to relief efforts in Europe.
In the mid-1990s, the club withdrew from both of the above organizations because members felt they could successfully operate as an independent club.
Now with a membership of about 78 and growing, The Ogunquit Women’s Club meets once a month in the local Baptist church from October through May. Each member helps with the food preparation and planning just once during the year.
As each monthly meeting approaches, the women who are helping with the food planning meet together or contact each other by phone to make plans for what each person wants to bring – a favorite casserole, salad or dessert. All members take part in helping to create their luncheon for that one month. These luncheons are an enjoyable part of the club meetings.
A business meeting is held every month that the club meets, and there is always “A Thought for the Day” presented. These thoughts are from the book “Spiritual Literacy – Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life,” by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. There are a number of books with memorable thoughts to express like this one.
The club strives to support local charities and other organizations with dues and fundraisers. Last spring, eight area charities were supported. Members submitted favorite cookie recipes to help create a small cook book to sell. One member, an artist, created the cover of the book with the words, “Favorite recipes from the good cooks of The Ogunquit Women’s Club, Ogunquit, Maine.” The club also has other items for sale: coolers, blankets, and umbrellas with Ogunquit, Maine, on them. There is a raffle and a “cookie walk” in December, and raffles at each meeting. For the cookie walk, members bake cookies to sell to other members to raise funds for charitable giving. Annual fundraisers in November and December include the sale of pecans and walnuts for holiday gift giving.
Women’s clubs can accomplish a lot. For one thing, speakers every month provide meaningful input about what’s happening in the area. Speakers lined up for this year included a representative from the Southern Maine Agency on Aging in October talking on “Aging with Grace.” In November, Lee Hews, publisher, spoke on her company’s magazine, Maine Women. In December, a travel adviser will talk, and in January, a speaker from a local savings bank will discuss reverse mortgages. The February speaker will talk about “The Business of Quilts,” and women’s health issues is the topic for the March speaker. April’s speaker from the Maine Center of Elder Law will talk about “Elder Rights Under the Law.” The final meeting of the season and the annual birthday luncheon is in May.
Most members are from Ogunquit, but they also come from Moody, Wells and Cape Neddick. New members from all over York County are welcome. With Maine a state with many small towns, it would be a benefit to a lot of women to have a chance to form their own women’s clubs in some of these towns. Of course, a leadership committee would be crucial for success, but it could be a powerful force to create more community involvement in their towns.
For more information on women’s clubs, contact Phyllis Norton, Ogunquit Women’s Club president, at 985-2269.