YORKTOWN — The Yorktown Woman’s Club, founded in April 1948, is celebrating its 75th anniversary and is still an active community-focused entity.
Organized to promote civic, economic, intellectual and spiritual growth among all ages of women of Yorktown, the club joined the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) five months after its founding.
“Yorktown Women’s Club is all about connection,” said current club president Marilyn Staton. “When I first retired from York County School Division, I thought, what am I going to do? Some friends of mine were in Yorktown Women’s Club so they invited me to join and it gave me a purpose. I wanted to give back and I wanted to do some good.”
To that end, the club helped bring a mobile dental clinic to York County with the Medical College of Virginia, providing dental assessments and care to over 300 underserved children in the area. The club’s 24 founding members also set up the first library in Yorktown in the basement of one of the town’s homes.
For more than 60 years the Yorktown Woman’s Club was known for serving up its famous Brunswick stew in the historic area of Yorktown during Yorktown Day, dressed in colonial dresses and bonnets. The 120 gallons of stew was served from a massive kettle over a firebase, very symbolic of colonial times, it noted.
In the early ’50s the Park Service asked the club to expand on the Brunswick stew and to serve a meal to the hundreds of locals and tourists during Yorktown Days. The lunch included homemade ham biscuits and freshly made pies. This was the club’s major fundraiser for years, it said, but ended in 2016 due to regulatory issues. The club continues to support Yorktown Day festivities, however, by marching in the parade in colonial garb.
“We volunteer for the wine festival and that will be Oct. 7 and then a beer festival in March,” Staton explained about the club’s fundraising plans. “Depending on the amount of volunteers we have, they give us a percentage of the profits.”
Over the years Yorktown Woman’s Club notes it has supported The Food Closet, Waterman’s Museum, Yorktown Meals on Wheels, Bargain Box, Natasha House, Avalon House, Peninsula Pet Pantry, York County Memorial Library Fund, the Salvation Army food drives and Christmas Angel Tree project, coupons for overseas military families, and volunteer meals for the Lackey Free clinic.
For the last two years, the GFWC Yorktown has supplied the Comfort Closet, located at Yorktown Elementary School, with back-to-school supplies, hygiene products and healthy snacks such as crackers and cheese, fruit snacks, small boxed cereals which the children take home or can eat at school.
In addition, each year the club also sponsors a scholarship award for seniors pursuing further education, and in 2023, the club awarded two scholarships of $3,125 each. Since 1980, the club has given $90,670 in scholarship monies. Scholarships have always been a priority to the membership, it said, and the club reports that it donates between $5,000- $10,000 back into the community on average annually depending on fundraising outcomes and donations.
The club is a nonprofit organization — non-denominational and non-political — designed to create civic improvement in the environment, education, arts and outreach.
To learn more about the GFWC, visit its official website.