When the Charles County Woman's Club was founded 45 years ago, members were mostly stay-at-home moms who wanted to make a difference in their community.
They met the second Thursday of every month, often sipping tea in immaculate living rooms as they planned fund-raisers. Over the decades, they quietly funneled thousands of dollars into the pockets of needy students and county residents.
As the group marks its 45th anniversary this week, club veterans are reaching out for new members and making sure county residents know they are still around. The effort is meant to counter some members' fears that the club's tradition of service is going unnoticed. They point to recruitment efforts that have turned up few prospects, largely because the meetings are still held on weekday mornings when many women now work.
Mary Thompson, a past president of the club, said members plan to adapt to changing times and hope to save money for a clubhouse of their own.
"We just want the word to get out again and let people know who we are," said Christina Thomasset, the youngest member of the club at thirty-something. "We've been here a long time for anyone not to know."
The 51 members of the group will celebrate with a private "45 Party" at their meeting Thursday at Swan Point Country Club, where they will share memories and talk about ways to ensure the success of the organization.
"They know in the back of their minds that we have to change meeting times, but a lot of them . . . can't get out at 7 o'clock," Thomasset said. "It's going to take time, but we have to make these changes. We'll probably end up with two groups, one that meets in the morning and one in the evening."
The club gears its efforts toward six topics: art, conservation, education, health, international affairs and public affairs, said past president Thompson. The group staffs a gift shop at the restored courthouse in Port Tobacco and runs the "Reuse Barn," which sells items recycled from the Charles County landfill. In the five years it has been open, the Waldorf barn has kept more than a million pounds of reusable items out of the landfill and has generated $10,000, which the club has poured into scholarships for local students.
"At the last meeting, the conservation group decided to wear what they could find at the Reuse Barn to show what you could really find at the landfill," said Thomasset, laughing. "No one knew except that group. It was great."
For more information on the Charles County Woman's Club, call President Helen Miller at 301-645-5349.