The White Plains Examiner

100-Year History of the Woman’s Club of White Plains, 2010 to present

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Gala of the Century Committee (l to r) standing, Cathy Schauber, Claudia Melo, Colleen Fay, Angela Tobin, Laurette Young, Mary Lou Winters, sitting Maryann Martin, Christine Roithmayr, Susan Doherty. JC Photo Events, Inc.

By Colleen Fay

In 1921, Woman’s Club president Gertrude Beakes said, “Our Club stands today as a symbol of the collective womanhood of our city. Our responsibility is as great as our opportunity and both will take all our finest strength and effort.” With renewed optimism and enthusiasm, the Club entered the 2010’s.

Economic issues continued to be at the forefront although due to the financial plan implemented in 2009, things were looking up. Several significant changes occurred including state historic designation for the house in August 2010 and national designation in October 2010 making the Club eligible for grants, much needed tax reductions were granted and most importantly, in 2011, the Woman’s Club of White Plains Foundation was created, a 501(c)(3) organization, now the non-profit arm of the Club. The remainder of the Club became the Woman’s Club of White Plain, Inc. Christine Roithmayr was elected the first President of the Foundation.

Just as things seemed to be moving in the right direction, Mother Nature threw a major curveball to the club. A March 2010 storm caused significant damage including a large tree, which came down on the ballroom during an event. Estimates for removal of the trees were $20K and roof repair was $70K. Spearheaded by Carla Noletti of Gedney Farms, local gardening and landscaping businesses came to the rescue. The Great American Tree Company removed trees at no cost. Other businesses including Gedney Farms Nursery, Amodio’s Nursery, Emerald Tree Care, All American Tree Care and The Care of Trees donated services as well as bushes and trees. In December 2010, an article entitled “We Rallied the Troops” appeared in the local paper describing these efforts and in May 2011, the Club held a Community Reception to honor and thank these companies. Ms. Noletti was unanimously voted an honorary member of the Club in recognition of her work.

Club Members Maryann Boustead, Mary Rutledge, Peggy Robinson, Angela Tobin, Judy Korman, Phyliss O’Keefe and Cathy Schauber at the Cookie Bake-a-thon for Salvation Army.

In 2011, a major fundraiser, the Centennial Gala of the house, took place. The event honored Marie McMahon, Nicole Sheidlin and Meryl Lefkowitz as Women Giving Back to the Community. Donna Hanover was the emcee. Over 200 guests attended and $90K was raised in large part due to the generosity of Caperberry Events, Vino 100, photographer Jo Anne Cancro and local florists who all donated services and goods to the club.

New philanthropic events took place under the auspices of the Foundation. The first Corks and Forks was held in 2012 with Burke as the honoree. Later honorees included Gilda’s Club, PEACE OUTside Campus and El Centro. The well-received Jazz for the Gardens was first held in 2015. Another traditional affair, the Winter Tea, was resurrected in 2016, benefitting the WP Library Foundation and Gail’s House in 2017.

Some first time “hands on” charitable activities were started including cooking for Grace Church (now known as Lifting Up Westchester, baking cookies for Salvation Army Thanksgiving meals, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army during the holidays and the first Furniture Sharehouse collection.

The highlight of the decade, of course, was the celebration of the centennial year in 2016. In February, a modern new logo was introduced with the slogan “Celebrating a Century of Commitment to Our Community.” In March, the Club was honored at the Friendly Gathering for its service to the community. A “100 Acts of Kindness” campaign was begun. In addition to the “acts” already being performed by WICS, Marking, the Thrift Shop and the annual cooking projects, the Club hosted a Blood Drive, a pancake breakfast for the homeless and monthly collections for various organizations. The Club was so successful in this campaign that the 100 Acts was completed in early November!

The climax of the yearlong festivities was the Gala of the Century on November 5. The honorees were club member and CEO of PIP Printing Mary Jane Goldman, Ruth Mahoney from Key Bank and the YWCA with which the Woman’s Club has had a long history. Generous donations by many businesses including Caperberry Events, PIP Printing, Amodio’s, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Gedney Farm Nursery, Hal Prince Orchestra, House of Flowers, JC Photo Events, Party Line Rentals, Pray Achievement Center, Redi-Cut Carpeting, Scarsdale Pastry Center, Spark Group LLC and Worldwide Decorating made the night even more successful than the House Centennial affair.

As 2017 began, the Club breathed a collective sigh of relief and pride. There are not many clubs that can say they have survived for 100 years and it is a testament to all those members who fought to save the Club and who have donated their time in innumerable ways to make the Club what it is today.

Mrs. John Lumbard, charter member of the Contemporary Club said “In 1904, Mrs. Turnure (president of the Fortnightly) planted a tiny seed; since then, scores have cultivated the ground and in a thousand ways stimulated the growth. The small beginnings, the pioneer work, were symbols of a greater achievement manifest today in physical and financial assets and a living organism which is entering into a new era of growth and development.” Truer words could not be said today.

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