About Us

Inside The Clubhouse

GFWC Polk County Service Club is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Club, one of the oldest volunteer organization’s in the world. We are located in Independence, Oregon and have the last known GFWC Woman’s Club in Oregon. The woman’s club was built in 1868 and is registered in the Historic District in Independence, Oregon. The clubhouse was moved to its current location in 1927 and has been used by the community for weddings, birthday parties and other church’s who have just started in the community. It currently is available for rentals for the community at a very reasonable rate.

History

GFWC Polk County Service Club was formed in Independence, Oregon on February 28, 1914 to help clean up the city of Independence. The progressive women of Independence saw a need to come together to get things done as the businesses in the area were not. Being a small community the clean up lead by the Progressive Ladies of Independence helped form a better and cleaner downtown core. Not only did the ladies take this task on but they also had the telephone poles that were in place at that time painted to keep the flies down.

In 1921 the Original Presbyterian Church in Independence had a benefactor who provided $10,000 for a new church to be purchased. As many of the Club Women were members of this church they were approached if they would like to purchase the building, but they would have to make arrangements to move the building. The new church was completed in 1927 and so arrangements were made to move the church to the property that the Club Members had found. The church cost them $1.00 and the task to move it from its original site to 340 S Third Street cost them around $350.00. The club members men did not help in this endeavor but the women were able to get this completed. It took a few more
years to get the club house up and running. In 1929 the women decided that the front portion of their property should be deeded to the City of Independence. The reason is that they felt the City needed a Public Library so with the help of the City and Women the first public library was built.

The Club Members were very active in their community, helping form the first PTA of Independence and actually funding it until it could get off and running on its own. They supported the Normal School in Monmouth that is now known as Western Oregon University. Many scholarships were awarded to women In Independence and Monmouth to attend the Normal School to learn a trade. During WW1 they were active with the citizens of Independence by doing sales to contribute to the war efforts. Women were also active in the Suffrage Movement
and actually attended some of the meetings state wide. In WW2 we also did fund raising to help the war effort. Many men were lost in both wars from the Independence and surrounding area. For WW1 the club members had a flag made that depicted the men in Independence that were lost in the war effort. Unfortunately, no one knows where this flag is located. It was given to the City who did hang it on the flag pole for remembrance but from there the club members lost track of the precious flag.

Throughout the history of the club members were active in their community by volunteering at the Public Library, by hosting AFS Students, have great functions at their club house, allowing a children’s theatre group to come and do a play each year, to holding sales for different needs of the community and being involved each year at July 4 th celebration’s by selling hot dogs.

The Club members opened up the Club House to allow for rentals so that the citizens in the area would have a place to party. Musical performances were done at the club house as well as having literary author’s come in. This was the main
place for elections to be held in the town until mail in ballots. So we can say the club house was a city focal point.

Renovations have been done over the years, the kitchen being extended to include a full working kitchen. A bathroom area being added as before only had the great outdoor outhouse on the property. It has been fueled to keep it warm with a pot belly stove, an oil heater and gas. So changes have happened but not to the exterior of the building. The building is part of the Independence Historical Sites in Independence and many stories are told on the annual Ghost Walk in the Fall.

Current:

GFWC Polk County Service Club is very active in the Polk County Area. Polk County only has one GFWC Club and so we renamed our club to reflect our work throughout the County. The current club is active with CASA donating supplies and actually being CASA supporters and some members becoming a volunteer for them. We are active in helping Foster Children, Veteran’s in the area as well as keeping our first passion of literacy and providing over 2000 books to Little Free Libraries in the area. We are looking for Volunteers who would love to give back to the community. As a member of the local club you become a member of the larger organization which is located in Washington DC. The work of the women of General Federation of Women’s Club is vast. As Club members we are instrumental in working with Congress to get bills passed that benefit women, children and veterans. The club members throughout the United States were instrumental in getting the First Public Libraries built in towns throughout the country. The seat belt’s in the cars were led by club members, during WW2 the women were instrumental in getting the war bounds passed and in fact made enough funds to help build a B17 Bomber. After the tragedy of the September 11, 2001, GFWC members came together and were able to purchase a new ambulance for New York City. Disasters strike a lot of the states and throughout the country members come together to help support communities that have suffered due to fires, floods, hurricanes, tornado’s. The country is stronger due to the work and efforts of club members. When domestic violence became well known throughout the states, GFWC became active in helping get the needed bills through congress. With our legislative alerts members throughout the country can help get the needed bills passed.

Club’s are stronger with volunteer’s to help with the needed work throughout their communities. GFWC Polk County Service Club is active in Independence and Polk County and always looking for new members to join. If interested feel free to contact us at gfwcpolk1914@gmail.com. You can also get more information about the national organization at gfwc.org.

Two member of the Pole county service club standing at a tabling event

Volunteer

If you would like to volunteer we are always looking for new members. Members are not limited to women as men also have joined. We also have a Juniorette Club which consists of boys or girls from the age of 10 to 17 so that they can learn about volunteering in their community.

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