The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Woman’s Club of Leesburg was first organized in October of 1909 with eighteen members. Throughout their now 110-year history, the Woman’s Club of Leesburg has done much to provide financial and physical help to their community through charities and other organizations. The club was created “for the purpose of aiding, improving and beautifying the town,” according to their website.
President of the club, Beth Doetsch, who was elected in the club’s April meeting, emphasizes that the women are “dedicated to volunteerism and fundraising.” Some of the traditional fundraising projects that take place yearly are a fashion show, which is expected to take place in April of 2021, and a fundraising project around the holidays during which they sell Georgia pecans. “They’re delicious. That’s a club favorite,” Beth adds.
The club supports breast cancer awareness, and each October they have raised funds by selling decorative flamingos. This year they’re planning on selling an additional item; a pink hat with flamingos on it. The money raised goes to the LIP (Ladies in Philanthropy) foundation and UF Health Leesburg Hospital. The women also donate their time to Leesburg functions, last year participating in the Christmas parade and dressing as elves.
“The Women’s Club of the country historically started libraries, so we support our local library,” Beth says. During the COVID-19 pandemic, throughout the summer some of the women got together and raised over 550 pounds of food that was donated to a local food pantry. As for members and others in the community that weren’t able to get out during quarantine, the group sent sympathy cards and has a “sunshine committee” that they are currently working on expanding.
GFWC of Leesburg has also donated many artifacts to the Leesburg Heritage Society, such as tea sets, crystal punch bowls, and many photographs from their last 110 years of service. “In the last 12 months we have had 12 new members join us and we have swelled to 42 members, so we’re totally excited about the opportunities that we have through that,” Beth says.
They will have a president’s tea and training and orientation session for new members later this month and will visit the Leesburg Heritage Society “because we are trying to create a historic committee to bring those traditions back to our meetings,” she adds.
The group’s main focus this year is to restore the historical perspective “so that new members will appreciate and understand the kind of club that they’ve inherited,” Beth says. The GFWC is internationally known and has state, national and international impacts, but in their home of Leesburg, the Woman’s Club focuses on providing scholarships to women in the city, supporting local charities through volunteerism and donations, and remaining a pillar of the community for years to come.
GFWC Woman’s Club of Leesburg