Canyon Lake Woman’s Club celebrates 45th anniversary

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President Sue Collins dresses in pirate garb for the Woman’s Club Mermaid Festival Pre-party. Sue said, “The Woman’s Club doesn’t just do fundraisers, we become good friends. Friendships are important.” Photo provided by Lyne Hall

This year marks the Canyon Lake Woman’s Club 45th anniversary. The non-profit, non-partisan philanthropic club was founded in 1972 and is one of the oldest and most active clubs in Canyon Lake. Its membership is made up of 204 women ages 18 to 95.

The Woman’s Club is dedicated to the enrichment of Canyon Lake and helping others less fortunate. Its mission is to provide a safe gathering place for the women of Canyon Lake, to raise funds to help those in need, both individuals and other charities, and to provide scholarships to local students for the continuation of their education after high school.

The Woman’s Club was instrumental in the opening of the Canyon Lake Library in 1980. The club established a financial sponsorship program to manage the development and growth of the library, paid the utility bills and staffed it with volunteers. The library eventually became part of the Riverside County Library System.

Through the years, the club’s philanthropic endeavors have been in the form of annual Christmas donations of food and toys for families in need, scholarships, donations for community improvements, clothing collections for veterans, toy drives and cash donations to various local organizations.

This year alone, the Woman’s Club awarded $31,000 in donations with $16,000 going to local charities, including Canyon Lake Emergency Preparedness Committee, Canyon Lake Library and Animal Friends of the Valleys, and $15,000 going to 10 Canyon Lake students. The POA was also given a sizable donation of $3,000 for trees for the dog park at East Port Park and a bench near the playground at Sunset Beach. The club has donated more than $400,000 over the past 10 years.

The Woman’s Club has hosted a variety of community events in its long history. Back in the day, the club raised funds through rummage sales and swap meets, bake sales, bridge marathons and chili cookoffs, to name a few. Today, the majority of the money the Woman’s Club raises is through three annual events: Fashion Show, Mermaid Festival and Holiday Home Tour. To put on these events is a major production that involves months of intense planning and preparation, hours of meetings and help from numerous volunteers. The money raised at these events allow the Woman’s Club to give back to the community and to help those in need.

The club also participates in Fiesta Day and sponsors the annual Cardboard Boat Challenge.

Eleven women serve as Board of Directors and several dozen women serve on various standing committees. Board members host a luncheon for new club members in February.

The history of the Canyon Lake Woman’s Club began 45 years ago when Canyon Lake women received a wake-up call inviting them to “come as you are to a breakfast.” That meeting, on the morning of Oct.18, 1972, resulted in the organization of the Woman’s Club, which started its objective as “promoting Canyon lake property improvements, cultural interest, moral and public welfare and philanthropic services.

There were 92 founding members in 1972. These chartered members were given lifetime memberships and are not required to pay annual membership dues. According to the club’s website, 30 of the 92 chartered members have since passed away.

Nanda Skinner was elected the first president with powder blue and gold chosen as club colors and “Fun with a purpose” as the annual theme.

Throughout the years, it has become a tradition for the new president to choose club colors and the annual theme. Sue Collins, the current club president, chose teal as this year’s color and the theme “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be.” Sue said, “I chose this theme because the Woman’s Club doesn’t just do fundraisers, we become good friends. Friendships are important.”

Since 1972, 42 women have served as the club’s president. Nanda, Carol Bivens and Jan May are the only three women who’ve served more than one term.

The club adopted its logo in 2011 and added vendors to its monthly meetings in 2014.

At June’s General Meeting, the funds raised for philanthropic purposes are distributed, scholarships are presented, new board members are installed and past club presidents are recognized. The club goes dark for the summer; there are no meetings in July and August.

The Woman’s Club welcomes all Canyon Lake women. Annual dues are just $20. The club holds monthly meetings on the third Wednesday in the Holiday Bay Room at the lodge. Vendor hour is from 9 to 10 a.m. Meetings begin at 10 a.m. followed by a speaker. Lunch is served at noon and costs $14.

October’s speaker will be Janelle Basham from Bosom Buddies, a Canyon Lake organization founded in the late 80s dedicated to educating, inspiring and supporting newly diagnosed breast cancer patients during their breast cancer journey.

For more information about membership, contact Kathy Ray at 858-449-7297 or kathyray82@hotmail.com. Additional information can be found on the club’s website at canyonlakewomansclub.com.

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Donna Ritchie