Greenfield Woman’s Club disbands after 95 years 

  • Edna Miner founder of the Mothers Club in 1921. Courtesy photo—

  • Dr. Leroy Miner and his wife Edna who started the Mothers Club. Courtesy photo—

  • (From left) Patty Ingelstrom and Carele Mayer look at a gift during the last Greenfield Woman’s Club meeting on Saturday, June 17 where they voted to disband.  Courtesy photo

  • The Greenfield Woman’s Club in costumes for the 1941 Sesquicentennial. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/21/2017 6:42:11 PM

For nearly a century the Greenfield Woman’s Club has been raising money and using those funds to sponsor campership for kids, provide scholarships to graduating seniors, host soup programs, dental clinics, and provide eyeglasses to those in need. They have used funds to make improvements to the Meeting House, the town’s library, and playgrounds.

“We did the things that women felt were important to take care of,” President Carele Mayer said.

The group chipped in funds to help repaint the interior of the library, replace its drapes, and the stage curtains in the Meeting House. They helped duplicated an old town chandelier, put money toward purchasing a dummy for the fire department, and provided funds restore the bell that chimes throughout the day.

“A lot of what we did was not realized and if we posted a list of everything I think people would be amazed,” Mayer said.

After 95 years of giving, the group voted to disband on Saturday.

“It is with sadness and celebration for all that the Greenfield Woman’s Club has done in service to our town and our youth in the past 95 years that I move to disband this honorable organization,” Mayer said during its final meeting at the Meeting House.

Mayer asked for a second on the motion. It was made, and the group overwhelmingly voted to dissolve.

“I told them if you vote ‘no’ on this motion you automatically become the president,” Mayer said in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript.

No one in the group voted ‘no,” although Mayer found out afterward that the club’s youngest member abstained. She said the person didn’t come forward and offer to take over as president. And with that, the group held its last meeting.

History

Edna Miner founded what was then called the Mothers Club in the 1920s with the intention of improving the “social, educational, and moral uplift of the town.”

The name soon gave way to the Greenfield Woman’s Club, as it remained for the rest of its time.

Mayer said one of the first projects the club undertook fighting for indoor plumbing in the school house (which is now the Town Hall). The club helped replace a wood stove with a furnace in the school.

A proclamation signed by the town’s three select board members — Margaret Charig Bliss, Stephen Atherton, and Robert Marshall – says Post WWII children benefited from the group, as well as children in the 1970s even though many of their needs were being filled by government programs at the time.

By the 1990s, the proclamation says that the club was part of the social fabric of the town and was managing a budget of tens of thousands of dollars. 

The club raised money through its well known Harvest Fair, historic house tours, and a cookbook, which is still for sale today. The group spent it in a myriad of different ways — always with an emphasis on helping children.

Decline in membership

Mayer said the club’s membership has been steadily declining for decades now. In the 1960s and ’70s there were around 70 members, and the organization was thriving.

But in the 1990s, she said, the club noticed that membership was beginning to decline. She said women became more involved in their kids' lives, and adult social activities took a backseat. Vice President Patty Ingelstrom said women also started working more, which dried up people's time.

“When it first started women were just at home and this was an outing for them,” Ingelstrom said.

Recently membership has hovered around 14 people — many who are now in their 80s and 90s. Mayer said it has become harder to get people to show up to meetings, and sometimes they don’t even have enough members for a quorum.

For years, the group has seen the writing on the wall.

“I remember them talking about disbanding five or six years ago,” said Lenny Cornwell, president of the Greenfield Historical Society. “But they were like the energizer bunny, they wouldn’t quit.”

They tried to recruit new members by posting short blurbs in the local newspaper and hosted coffee hours at the library and the Meeting House in hopes of generating interest in the group. They changed their meeting time but then reversed the decision when that didn’t work.

“We tried everything,” Mayer said. ” … We weren’t getting anybody.”

Mayer said she joined the group in the mid-1990s. Her mother had been a part of the group while and she learned the importance of giving back to the community through example.

“My sisters and brothers all learned from that, and we saw that what you give comes back to you 100 fold,” Mayer said. “We saw that over and over again.”

She said she’s afraid children are not being exposed to that lesson now.

“I think it’s important to show children that they can be a part of something greater than themselves in life,” Mayer said.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2020 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy