Welcome to the GFWC Woman’s Club of Inverness, FL, Inc
The Largest Women’s Volunteer Organization in the World
The GFWC Woman’s Club of Inverness is a charitable service-oriented 501(c)3 organization affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (www.GFWC.org) and GFWC Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs (www.GFWCFlorida.org). You are invited to see what can be achieved through a group of dedicated women.
Historic Club House - Downtown Inverness
Second Club House
A Past to Remember – A Future to Mold
When Citrus County was formed in 1887, several lots were set aside in Inverness (then Tompkinsville) to be used for the public good. One of those sites was for a library.
A small octagonal building was soon erected for the library, which also became the center of social life for the young community.
A library association operated the library for some time, but interest waned, books were scattered and lost, and meetings ceased to be held. The building was leased for other purposes and eventually sat deserted. When the Inverness Woman’s Club was established in 1917 many of its members were from the library association. The little octagonal building was deeded over to the Woman’s Club with the only stipulation that a library be maintained.
After working diligently through the years of World War I rolling bandages, knitting lap covers and sweaters and supporting other Red Cross work, planting a tree for each Inverness boy in the service, working in the schools, offering the first home economics course in the county – and reestablishing the library - members undertook the construction of a “new” clubhouse building.
The club joined the General Federation in 1917 and oversaw the building of a “new” clubhouse – erected in 1922 on the same spot as the original one which incorporated part of the older building in its west wing. The original foundation was left in place under the newer structure. Picture of the old building?
When the club first occupied the clubhouse, there were perhaps a dozen volumes left of the original library collection. One bookcase and some books were returned to the library later. With hard work and willing help there were soon 1400 books, including new publications, on the shelves and the Woman’s Club Library was in place to lend books to the readers of the community. This library was the first library in Citrus County and was maintained by members as the local “lending library” into the 1960s when a county library system was established. At that time, all the books in the Inverness Woman’s Club library were donated to the county system.
The Inverness Woman’s Club is also credited with establishing the first PTA in Citrus County as well as the first Meals on Wheels program.
Although Meals on Wheels was taken over by the First Presbyterian Church as one of their outreach programs, our members were instrumental in directing its operation until 2013 when the church turned over the operation to the county.
At one time, club members had their own chorus and were called upon to entertain at numerous local functions.
2007-2017 Our 90th through 100th Years
We introduced an “Artisan’s Boutique” to the community which became a major fundraiser but also helped us establish ourselves for sponsoring quality endeavors. The boutique lasted for 12 years and grew into a bigger venue that was known as the Arts & Crafts EXPO.
As a new century began, “Book Fair” and we celebrated our 90th year of club work, we sponsored three author fairs where more than 40 local authors were invited to sell their books. We also offered mini workshops in writing and publishing. Each author donated one of their books which became a part of our own lending library. This popular event was taken over by our local public library system. We are proud of our heritage of providing books and sources of books to our community and proud that we continue that work today.
Moving into more community endeavors took several of our members to work for two days with a bereavement program for local youngsters sponsored by our local hospice organization and filled shoe boxes with hundreds of items for Christmas gifts for needy children at a local elementary school.
For ten years we hosted a very upscale “Artisans Boutique” in the fall featuring the work of local crafters and artists. Now the club is working with many of those same crafters to sponsor a big Arts and Crafts Expo, which is less work intensive. Other fundraisers have also included luncheon/card parties, theme dinners, and a huge yearly garage sale.
In 2015, a new Memorial Garden adjacent to our clubhouse was started and completed with the help of a local Boy Scout troop. Members and friends are able to buy bricks in remembrance of or in honor of a friend or family member. The garden addition has invigorated the club as well as enhanced the grounds of our home.
We planned and executed a “From Herbs to Exotics A Unique Plant Sale” fundraiser at our clubhouse This was the start of a great year.
With the co-operation of two other GFWC clubs, we held two major fundraisers at Citrus Auditorium which raised more than $20,000 for CASA as they were building their new safe house. A professional entertainer from England who sang Frank Sinatra style gave his services for both events. We won a State Award for this endeavor.
We established a program to collect and recycle books within our community, placing books in restaurants, laundromats, and ice cream parlors. Each book contained our club’s name and encouraged the reader to take the book home. Volunteers stepped up to a request for volunteering in the local schools and continue this on a yearly basis.
For three years our members supported the Reading Pals program for Pre-Kindergarten students initiated by our local United Way and volunteered at a Hospice Camp for children touched by death.
We support our local shelter for victims of domestic violence by collecting clothes, toiletries, books and other items that the director says are currently needed as well as a local agency that works with the homeless. We also help to stock a local food shelter with a concentrated once-a-year effort.
We established a Book Club that is open to readers in the community as well as our own members. The group has taken two field trips to sites in Florida, having been introduced to the area destination through a book the club has read.
We have embraced projects that our state presidents have adopted for their two-year term, which have included raising scholarship monies for girls who are cancer survivors who needed help for college, Operation Smile, and Heifer International. One of our most successful campaigns was raising money for Canine Companions for wounded warriors which our hearts as well as our money enthusiastically supported.
In 2016, we planned and executed a beautiful historical fashion show fundraiser called "Portrait of a Bride, An Evolving Silhouette" a historical presentation and we paid off the mortgage on our clubhouse. Doing all of this plus still being able to give three scholarships, two to seniors graduating from Citrus High School, one given by the Chronicle Newspaper to a deserving athlete and supported again all the State projects as well as our own local endeavors.
In 2017, we celebrated in several ways, our 100th birthday anniversary. We held a birthday party at our Historical Courthouse Museum, where, the ladies of 1917 may have gathered to talk about forming the Inverness Woman’s Club and enjoyed looking at fashions through the decades of our existence. An open house brought local business leaders to share our history. We received a proclamation from our Governor Scott and from our commissioners .
In 2018 along with our successful garage sale we again executed another successful style show that included some of our Local business ladies and our Mayor’s wife as our models. “Sophisticated Ladies of Citrus County” was enjoyed by all.
In 2019 we added to our already successful” book recycling” and our Book Club, a Chartered “New Little Free Library”, which is managed by the book club by putting in the library both adult and children’s books. For GFWC FL Juniors emphases, we added Dr Seuss children books to kick off the library. Already books are being used.
Plans are now in the works for a “Crazy Wacky Bingo” Luncheon, another Garage Sale and a Chinese Cultural Experience, “A Dynasty of Fashion by our own member and her committee.
Socially, we have come together for luncheons, to play bingo, to play Bonanza, to do arts and crafts, to socially support our community by eating out at our restaurants, to decorate Christmas trees and to have a cookie exchange.
We are truly a club where each member takes on some little (or big) project and contributes her special touch/talent.
Our officers during this period 2018-2020: are Frances Hamilton, President; Sally Barrow, 1st Vice President; Noreen Elliott, 2nd Vice President; Debbie Sargent, Recording Secretary; Shirley Bousquet, Corresponding Secretary; Bonnie Jessie, Treasurer, Barbara Rains, Parliamentarian.
Today, with A Past to Remember, we look to A Future to Mold.