Tribune-Courier Guest Columnist
With the motto “Not What I Can Get, But What I Can Give,” the Benton Woman’s Club has dedicated itself to community improvements by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service in Benton since 1914. This month the club will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
The club’s origins began in 1910 when a group of eight ladies in Benton formed the Corona Literary Club. Not long after the club was renamed the Benton Arts & Crafts Club. Another name change came in 1914, when the Benton Woman’s Club was officially formed and charted with the Kentucky General Federation of Woman’s Clubs.
The first officers were Mrs. Harry Jones as President, Mrs. E.L. Cooper as First Vice President, Mrs. J.G. Smith as Second Vice President, Mrs. Hoy Hiett as Secretary, Mrs. B.L. Trevathan as Treasurer and Mrs. G.A. Thompson as Corresponding Secretary.
“In the early years the club meetings were held in homes of club members in the afternoon with the ladies wearing their Sunday best complete with hats & gloves,” said current Club Vice President Amy Mason. “Later, the meetings were moved to the evenings where the attire was less formal.”
The club has been a positive force throughout Benton through the years with volunteers donating their time to many worthy causes in the community.
“The club has had a diverse history in fundraising from the usual rummage and bake sales to the holiday tour of homes,” said Mason.
“Education has always been important to the club and for many years we have donated a scholarship to a deserving student in Marshall County. Following the death of Anita Poore, a valued member who was active on all levels of club work, the scholarship was renamed The Anita Poore Memorial Scholarship,” Mason said.
ऀOther club projects have included blood drives, recycling/conservation projects, style shows, Pumpkin Fest, Read Across America, and Adopt a Highway.
The club has also donated its time and resources to many charities including the Marshall County Needline, Merryman House and Marcella’s Kitchen.
The club organized the first Paint the Town Pink Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness in 2008 and the event is held in the fall every year. This year’s event will be held on September 27th.
“The establishing of the library is probably the club’s greatest achievement,” Mason said.
The club recognized a need for a community library in 1954 and they allocated funds for one to be established in a small room behind city hall. “The club pooled their own books and opened a library for the public. There weren’t funds to hire a librarian so the club members took turns keeping the facility,” Mason said.
A tax was eventually passed in 1967 making the Marshall County Public Library System a special taxing district in order for the maintenance of the library, and Sonja Dollies, an accredited librarian, was hired. The current library was built in 1971.
“Over the years the club has been active on both District and State levels with several club members serving as district governor,” Mason said. “The club has also participated in many District Art Shows over the years and won in many different categories.”
The Benton Woman’s Club has grown steadily over the years and Ms. Faye Phillips has served with the club for many years in several different capacities.
“I joined in 1984,” Phillips recalled. “During my time with the club, I served as club president for three terms and was also elected District Governor and Vice Governor,” Phillips said. “The club has always been committed to community improvements and has been a positive force in the community,” Phillips said.
In its 100 years of existence, the club has grown steadily and is always looking for new members.
“At present date we have 40 members and are hoping to grow this year,” said Mason. “A common misconception is that you must be asked. Any woman can be a member,” Mason concluded.
This Saturday the Benton Woman’s Club will celebrate their centennial anniversary with a Fashion Show Luncheon at the Marshall County Children’s Arts Center at 11 a.m.
Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased at LaBelle Maison or by calling Amy Mason at (270) 366-3927.
The Benton Women’s Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month and anyone interested in joining should call Mason.