Johnson City Woman's Club recognized for 50 years of service, socializing

Nathan Baker • Oct 6, 2018 at 5:00 PM

A lot has changed for women over the last 50 years, but the Johnson City Woman’s Club has been there for them — and the community — all that time.

Entering its 50th year, the club will be recognized by the city for its important contributions to the community. At its lunch meeting Friday at the Blackthorn Club, the organization will be presented with an official proclamation by Vice Mayor Jenny Brock.

Woman’s Club President Donna Jacobson said the recognition is an honor for the group, which, since its founding in 1969, has supported community service and philanthropic projects.

“I like the idea, and I think this probably goes for everyone, not just myself, of performing a service to the community,” Jacobson said.

For the past few years, the club has been a significant benefactor to Johnson City Schools’ homeless children programs, but it’s also contributed to the Court Appointed Special Advocates, Brother’s Keeper, Honor Flight, the Salvation Army Shelter, the Johnson City Day Center, veterans’ programming at Mountain Home and others.

Jacobson has been a member for about seven years, but one current member, Dolores Hayden, was there for the club’s founding.

“She still comes to meetings,” Jacobson said. “She is determined to keep coming as long as she can.”

As women’s roles in society changed and household economics demanded two full-time incomes, the demographics of the Johnson City Woman’s Club evolved.

More women entered the workplace, and fewer had extra time for groups like the club, so it began to cater to women who already completed their careers.

“Most of us who have joined the club are newly retired,” Jacobson, who spent 31 years as an educator, said. “We’ve had our careers, we’ve done our jobs for 20, 30, 40 years, but we’re still looking for new social connections. As we’ve finished our careers, as we’ve retired, we’re looking for those connections, and that’s something the club provides.”

Within the club are voluntary activity groups centered around a hobby, interest or activity that allow members to form close connections.

Jacobson, an avid reader, takes part in the regular book club. She also joins the Mahjong group every week for a few games and gabbing, but unlike her love for reading, her fondness for the tile-based game developed after joining.

“I was one of the ladies who started it,” she said. “One of us read somewhere that the game was of particular value for preventing mental deterioration, so we said ‘let’s give it a try to keep our brains active.’”

Now, she said, she’s hooked on it, and said it’s much more deep than the matching game popularized by Microsoft’s software offerings included on new computers.

Recently, overcoming natural attrition, the Woman’s Club numbers have grown.

Eight new members inducted last month brought their numbers up to 55, a high in members’ recent memories.

“We’ve been running in the 40s, but just in the last couple of years, we’ve had quite a growth spurt,” Jacobson said. “Even losing a number of members, we’ve managed to grow to a number we haven’t seen in quite a few years.”

The club is always looking for new blood, though, and its meetings on the second Friday of each month at the Blackthorn Club are open to prospective members.

For anyone interested in finding out more information about membership, contact Karla Hesketh at 423-631-0792 or [email protected].

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