Women's Club gives back to the community

The GFWC Women's Club of Sweetwater County has been making good on their mission to help the community with several recent donations to local organizations and participation in local events.

"We just try to do whatever we can to help our community when we hear of a need," Club President Marcia Volner said.

The club has been giving out donations from the funds they raised during their annual Holiday House. The holiday event is their biggest activity and fundraiser for each year, bringing in money the club can then distribute to local organizations. Last December's Holiday House brought in over $5,000, according to Volner.

"We're a nonprofit, so it's important that we show that we're a nonprofit by giving away those monies," Volner said.

In the spring, the club starts going through the process of dispersing the funds.

"As president, I go around and I talk to different organizations to find out what they do and what their needs are and I bring that to the board meeting," Volner explained.

The Women's Club board members share ideas and decide on organizations to give donations to and amounts to give. Those ideas are then shared with the whole club during one of the general meetings, where club members can also propose other ideas before everyone votes on it as a whole.

Over the past few month or so, the Women's Club has been distributing the money. The club has given donations, usually around $300 each, to Ray Lovato Recycling Center; Western Wyoming Family Planning; a local pediatric dentist to help children who don't have dental insurance; the Bittersweet Bombshells Roller Derby team, which supports efforts against human trafficking and encourages confidence in the team members; St. Christopher's Highway, which helps stranded travelers; and the Rock Springs Art Box project, which covers power boxes with art by local artists. The club will also be giving a donation to the Food Bank of Sweetwater County next week.

Some of the funds also go toward grants for Western Wyoming Community College students which are given out in the spring and the fall. Additionally, 10% of the proceeds from the Holiday House raffle are always given to a charity chosen by the house host. The raffle in December raised $3,000, so $300 was donated to Hospice of Sweetwater County.

One of the biggest donations the club made recently was to Project Hope, a project through Commerce Bank of Wyoming that works with Sweetwater County School District No. 1 and the Rock Springs High School Outreach Program to bring awareness to the community about students who are considered borderline homeless or homeless and assist local students and families. Not only did the Women's Club donate $350 to Project Hope, but the members collected donations during a general meeting and donated over $500 worth of items to the project.

Club members have also recently been involved in local events and fundraisers, including attending the Power of the Purse event to support Hospice and passing out trees at the Ray Lovato Recycling for Trees and Green River Arbor Day events. A club activity involved put together comfort bags for the Green River Police Department to use when interviewing children. The members are also getting ready to support and help with the annual Walk to End Alzheimer's and Golf to End Alzheimers events. Other upcoming events include a food drive in September and recognizing September 30 as the GFWC's first annual National Day of Service.

"Clubs across the country will be working toward ending hunger by doing a variety of community service projects," Volner explained. 

In addition to regular donations and community projects, the Women's Club always chooses a Community Improvement Project for each year. This year's project is raising money for benches for the veteran columbarium. The club will have members at summer events like International Day and the Green River and Rock Springs Farmers' Markets collecting money for this project.

"And also hopefully collecting some new members," Volner added.

As the club has continually looked to expand, the members also decided to change the name at the beginning of this year. After celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Women's Club of Rock Springs last October, the club officially changed its name to the Women's Club of Sweetwater County in January.

"We were getting more members from Green River, and a lot of them were very active members who were on the board, and so some of the members thought that it would be nice to broaden the name to maybe be more inclusive," Volner explained. "Then maybe other people in the county would feel like they could be a part of the club, that it wasn't just Rock Springs."

Whatever the name, the club has always been an important local organization.

"Over the 100 years that they've been in existence they have done so much for the community," Volner said.

While she's been a member for 10 years, Volner knows the club's history of being involved and giving back goes back decades. From advocating for local issues to supporting other organizations to physically lending a hand, the Women's Club members have always looked for ways to help out.

"We work pretty hard to help our community and that's our focus," Volner said.


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