The Woman’s Club has been a part of Laguna’s local narrative since 1922, but what is the club up to now? A few weeks ago, the organization celebrated its 100th anniversary of helping women and children in need and will host their famous holiday luncheon today. However, its public outreach reaches far beyond celebrations and luncheons.
In addition to being a source for women to gather, be social and create/foster connections and an overall sense of ‘sisterhood’, the mission of the Club since its founding in 1922 was to also promote and provide charitable service to and for the community.
“I’m going to use a quote from Debbie Neev, our board secretary and long-time member: ‘the Woman’s Club contributions to the Laguna community are extremely important,” said Kathleen “Kitty” Malcom, president of the Woman’s Club. “Some individuals need continual support, even in this affluent community. It is often easy to think, ‘oh, some other organization will take care of this or that,’ but taking individual responsibility and stepping up to face these issues are what we are all about. That is why it is so important to me for the Woman’s Club to look beyond the holidays for opportunities to contribute.'”
Laguna Beach has a significant need and desire to help those in the community who are struggling. While many organizations do just that, many of these organizations are also financially funded by state, federal or local programs.
Malcolm said the Woman’s Club is unique in identifying local organizations that support local women and children in need. They raise money through their members at their Holiday Luncheon and seek out potential grants.
“Grant-giving is rather small overall, so we really rely on our Holiday Luncheon to fill the ’till,’ she said.
The club’s support of outreach programs is ongoing and diverse, focusing on children in need and women in various stages of transition, making it much more than a social organization.
Currently, the club works with the Laguna Beach school district, providing backpacks to school kids, Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation, Laguna Food Pantry, Waymakers Youth Shelter, Human Options, Adopt-a-Child/Family Holiday gift giving, Laguna Beach Fire Department “Spark of Love’ gift giving, summer camp scholarships through the City Parks & Recreation and summer scholarships to Camp Pinniped (Marine Animal Center).
In addition, since 1995, the club has presented its annual Woman of the Year award, honoring a Laguna Beach woman who has consistently served and/or significantly enhanced the community. This person is nominated by and voted on by their membership. The club also honors the outgoing mayor with a luncheon.
“These are open to the community and always a full house, with a waiting list. These are terrific community-building events, and everyone who attends is always happy and excited to share in the honoring,” Malcolm said.
The club also hosts a spring and fall wine & cheese social, which provides an opportunity for its members to get together and socialize, network, and recruit new members who are potentially new to Laguna Beach.
Looking forward, the club plans to create a “Welcome to Laguna Beach” program, which we think is an area that can be tapped into, and will benefit new residents to our community.
“We want to expand and do more in other areas, such as being able to send kids to art camps/programs,” Malcolm said. “The Woman’s Club board of directors works very hard to make a difference in our community and to make our membership proud. We continue to want to build on that so that what we do as a membership matters.”
The clubhouse itself is a rental venue and is used for wedding receptions, school sports dinners, memorial services, birthday and anniversary parties and board meetings. It has also been a home for in-need residents for Sunday morning services and food for over 15 years.
For more information about the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club, visit www.wclb.org/.