Smile and Be Happy
The St. Andrews Woman’s Club was organized by 21 women interested in creating a better community in the growing St. Andrews area of the Midlands. On March 15, 1963, the club was chartered by the South Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs. In 1990 SCFWC became the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of South Carolina. St. Andrews Woman’s Club has been active in GFWC-SC with large representation at conventions as well as state and district functions. Many SAWC members serve at the state, regional and national levels.
Club member Marian St. Clair served as president of GFWC-SC from 2002-2004 and is the current GFWC President; she previously served as GFWC President-Elect and First Vice President. Club member Kristin Fields is the current GFWC-SC President. Club member Laurie O‘Kelly served as GFWC-SC President for the 2010-2012 term and she is now serving as GFWC Convention and Meeting chair, GFWC-SC Database Coordinator, GFWC Budget and Finance Committee and GFWC Southern Region Secretary. Tonja Ivey is GFWC-SC Clubwoman Magazine Editor and Website and Gail Elfert is Jennie Award Chairman and GFWC Assistant to the President. Club woman Kaye Hunke is serving as GFWC-SC Finance Committee Chairman and Beth Taylor is Fundraising Committee Chair and finance committee member. Susan Swails is on GFWC-SC Trustees of Progress Foundation and Headquarters Committee. Susan Smith, Barbara Williams and Dianne MCCarty are on GFWC-SC Headquarters Committee. Club Member Kaye Jones is GFWC-SC Secretary.
SAWC membership increased and from 1965 through 1973, the club operated two divisions, Morning and Evening, Membership has been fostered through the years with membership teas, SAWC Membership pins, and awards such as the Outstanding Clubwoman Award established in 1972 and the Dianne McCarty Spirit Award established in 1995. The club celebrated its 20th, 25th, 30th and 50th anniversaries with parties at GFWC-SC Headquarters and set aside a time capsule in its 25th year, which was opened in August 1998. In November of 2013, the celebration of the 50th anniversary was held. Past Club members, current members and six of the charter members attended.
PROGRAMS: A wide range of monthly programs represents both the diverse interests of club members and the changing concerns of the times. Each monthly meeting is hosted by a Community Service Program committee and they secure a speaker to spotlight a topic of interest for that CSP.
ST. ANDREWS COMMUNITY RECREATION CENTER: The St. Andrews School, built in 1910 as the one-room Nates’ School, was unused in 1963 and deeded to the St. Andrews Recreation Association for use as a Recreation Center. Club members renovated the Center and by 1968, monthly club meetings were held there. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the club sponsored a girls softball team, chaperoned youth parties at the Center, placed billiard tables in the center, and contributed to the establishment of the St. Andrews Swimming Pool (adjacent to the Community Center). The club continued to use and improve the Community Center until the disbanding Recreation Association returned ownership to the School District in 1996.
ST. ANDREWS LIBRARY: In the summer of 1964 club members pooled their resources and began a library project with 65 hard cover books in a corner of St. Andrews Elementary School. That fall the library moved to a room in the Community Center and was staffed by club members two days a week. By July 1966, 1200 books per month were loaned and Richland County Library supported the club’s efforts to locate a permanent site. After 13 bad leads, a site was offered by Home Federal Savings & Loan on Bush River Road and in August, 1967, ground breaking ceremonies were held. The St. Andrews Woman’s Club was recognized for its efforts in obtaining the library for the community. In 1968, the club formed the Friends of the Library, a community support group that is still active today for libraries throughout Richland County. The popular library finally outgrew its original building and in 1992 moved to a new facility on Broad River Road. Club members celebrated the library’s progress with a monetary contribution of $5,000. As the needs of the St. Andrews Branch Library diminished, the club expanded its support to the Irmo Branch of the Lexington County Library and has continued to support school libraries and literacy efforts.
FUND-RAISING: St. Andrews Woman’s Club has employed a variety of fund-raisers to support its many community activities. Early projects included bake sales, talent shows, fruitcake sales, flea markets, the inevitable cookbook sales, and craft auctions. In 1966, the club sponsored its first Fashion Show and Bridge benefit netting $300; this project was repeated until 1981. The first St. Andrews Woman’s Club Bridal Showcase was held in 1982. That first year was difficult, but the Showcase registered 194 brides and netted $1,845. With a successful fundraiser established, the club has been able to make significant contributions to community projects such as the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Garden, St. Andrews Kids Café, Canoeing for Kids, Nancy K Perry Children’s Shelter, Nurturing Center, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, Sharing God’s Love, SisterCare, Dream Riders, Woman’s Shelter, Operation Smile, First Steps-Lexington County, Family Shelter, The Special Minds Foundation, Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc., InVest USA, The Free Medical Clinic, Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter, Birthright of Columbia, Home Works of South Carolina, Capital Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity and Family Connections of South Carolina. Bridal Showcase was so successful that commercial businesses began to offer their own competing bridal fairs. The last SAWC Bridal Showcase was held in 2015 and the club searched for new fundraising opportunities. In the 2016-17 club year the club raised funds through sponsoring a night at Town Theater, an evening of Bunco fun and also participated in the Belk Charity Sales Days.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: Community service projects through the years have benefited the St. Andrews area as well as South Carolina with thousands of hours of volunteer service. In addition to, the Community Center and the Library, the St. Andrews Directory, a newcomer’s guide to the growing area, was produced every other year from 1964 until the early 1980’s. Big Bird’s Birthday Party provided preschoolers with hearing, vision, and dental screening, health and safety presentations, and a party with several Sesame Street characters. This project began in 1965-1966 with vision screening for just one school and expanded in the 1970’s until the annual Big Bird party was (a two day event) that provided screenings for many area children. In 1987, state law mandated such screenings and the Big Bird party was discontinued.
During the 1970’s, the club sponsored events for the girls residing at Willow Lane School, and in the 1980’s, attention was focused on the Carolina Children’s Home. For three years, the Judy Thomas Cottage was adopted by the club and year-round support was provided. Hot Line Heavies, a summary of crisis and intervention phone numbers for teens, was produced regularly from the mid 1970’s until the page was incorporated into the Rainbow Guide to Parenting for Prevention published by the LRADAC in 1995. Education has always been emphasized and the club has offered college scholarships, citizenship awards, special class sponsorship, and literacy programs. Interest in international events included rallies for Vietnam soldiers in the 1960’s and culminated in the club’s active support of a sister club in the Philippines in the 1990’s. For highway safety, one of the club’s first projects supported installation of the first traffic light in the St. Andrews area at Broad River at Bush River Roads. Club members endorsed both seat belt and child restraint use and legislation, and the club initiated the first car seat loaner program in the Midlands. Many American Cancer Society projects have been supported including raising funds for cancer research via Send a Mouse to College, participation in Lexington County Jail’n Bails and Cancer support groups, and sponsoring a Christmas Tour of Homes to establish the Lexington County Breast Cancer Survivor Fund in the 1990’s. Hundreds of projects focusing on community improvement and fostering a better environment have continued each year. They include fostering a service dog through PAALS, Adopt a Highway, Relay for Life, Operation Smile, and Harvest Hope Food Bank, support for Irmo Community Park and Saluda Shoals "Leo's Landing" to name a few. St. Andrews Woman’s Club continues to make a difference in our community and beyond!