Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg Offers Space for Civic-Minded Women

The Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg is a volunteer organization for local women. (Courtesy of the Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg)

WILLIAMSBURG — Local women who want to find a way to support nonprofit organizations, become more involved in their community, or are just looking to meet other women have a club that they can join.

The Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg (JWCW) is a volunteer organization for civic-minded women in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

Established in 1954, the club supports various charitable organizations and community services through financial and volunteer assistance, with a focus in a variety of areas including arts, education and health.

“We hold fundraising events throughout the year, and also seek sponsors,” JWCW Dean of Members Ali Blankenship said. “And then with those funds that we raised, we give them back to the community in the form of mini grants, scholarships and different community service projects that we do as a club.”

Each year, the club gives an average of $35K back to the community in the form of mini grants and scholarships to high school students. Since 2014, the club has donated more than $288K.

The club supports local nonprofits, including Avalon, The ARC of Greater Williamsburg and Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra.

The club provides a variety of services, such as collecting and donating education supplies to Literacy for Life, providing donations to Greater Williamsburg families affected by natural disasters and purchasing gifts for local families in need for the holidays.

While the club focuses on serving the community, Vice President Erica Hammett said that women join the club for different reasons.

The club holds various fundraising events throughout the year. (Courtesy of the Junior Woman’s Club of Williamsburg)

“For me, it was to meet people,” Hammett said. “We did just talk to everybody in the club about this, and most people were saying either they wanted to volunteer in the community, or it was more of a social thing. Some wanted to meet people because they were new.”

The club holds a general membership meeting the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. While the club has mostly had to meet virtually over the last two years, they are starting to meet back in person.

Whether it’s held virtually or in-person, anyone is welcome to join, as the club is focused on bringing in new people.

“We always try to make sure we’re inviting and making people feel welcome,” Hammett said.

Blankenship said that the club has given her life-long friendships.

“I have some life-long friendships with people in the club, and to be able to do something good together is just so rewarding,” she said.

JWCW holds several fundraising events throughout the year. The club partners with DoG Street Pub for Whistle Belly, a craft beer festival that features a variety of breweries, with proceeds benefitting local nonprofits and scholarships.

“DoG Street Pub has been very generous and supportive of our club over the years,” Hammett said.

The club’s largest fundraising event is Art on the Square, which supports community art initiatives and features over 150 artists on Duke of Gloucester and N Boundary Street.

“We have artists who come back year after year, and we really like working with them,” Blankenship said.

Proceeds from artist booth fees are donated to visual and performing arts organizations throughout the Greater Williamsburg area.

This year’s Art on the Square will take place April 24.

“I personally really enjoy a lot of the events that we do, and it brings the community together for a unique cause,” JWCW President Meg Robbins said. “Yes, we’re raising money, but we’re also having a lot of fun with one another.”

Blankenship said that the club is currently looking for more sponsorships and partners.

“Last year, we became a 501c(3) organization, which really opens up a lot of doors for our club,” she said.

With 15 active members in the club, JWCW invites any local women interested in joining to come to events or meetings.

“We really have a lot of diverse members with unique backgrounds,” Robbins said. “We’re a fun group and we encourage everyone to come and at least check us out once.”

For more information, visit JWCW’s website.

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