This year marks a centuryâ€™s worth of friendship and community service for the ladies of the CSU Womenâ€™s Association. But when it originally formed in 1910, the group was merely a social tool for the wives of faculty members at CSU.
â€œWhen I first came here, there wasnâ€™t much to do in Fort Funky,â€ said Christine Sykes, newsletter editor for the Womenâ€™s Association. â€œI joined the faculty wives association to meet people.â€
The group has shifted from only allowing wives of faculty members and now welcomes any member of the community who is interested in joining. Arle Maemogren has been a member of the group since the fall of 1948 and said the dynamic has shifted over the years.
â€œWe used to have deans wives and faculty wives only,â€ Maemogren said. â€œWeâ€™ve recognized for years now that anyone should be welcome, and we are tickled to death to have them.â€
Originally a very exclusive group, it has now expanded to meet the different needs and interests of the women involved. They host a monthly general coffee meeting and a variety of programs throughout the year including luncheons, musical programs, a Christmas tea and a spring fashion show.
â€œHonestly, when I first went I thought the group was very stuffy. Now it is a lot more relaxed and a genuinely great group of people,â€ Sykes said.
The Womenâ€™s Association also functions through 12 different interest groups, which meet multiple times a month. These groups foster a sense of community through participation in creative card making, fiber art, gardening, quilting, theater and art, western literature discussions, hiking and more. The group has helped more than 200 ladies make connections and lifelong friendships, members said.
Terry Nett, an association member, said the group has evolved from simple networking into a social consciousness to help meet the needs of the community.
Proceeds from the sales of different crafts, such as the creative cards and jewelry, go toward the funding of several scholarships offered to CSU students. The ladies have now provided these scholarships for 31 years.
â€œThe scholarships are now the most important part of the organization,â€ said Nett, who is the wife of Associate Dean of Biomedical Sciences Torrance M. Nett.
Last month the CSU Womenâ€™s Association honored 16 students at its annual scholarship recognition luncheon. The women recognized each recipient,Â many are non-traditional students, for the obstacles they have overcome.
â€œWe like students who really need the money,â€ said Scholarship Committee Chairwoman Shirley Ames. â€œItâ€™s amazing what some of them have had to do to get their education.â€
To date, the Womenâ€™s Association has provided more than $210,000 worth of support to students through its scholarship programs.
Along with contributions to the student body, the group also supports the Fort Collins community by promoting volunteerism, hosting social events and organizing blood drives.
For 38 years now, the coordination of blood drives has been a main focus of the groupâ€™s efforts. On the 35th anniversary of their first blood drive, students were able to donate 45,000 units of blood.
The ladies hope to continue supporting students and community members by inspiring involvement and education. They feel accomplished at having not only sustained a Womenâ€™s Association for 100 years but for having grown.
â€œWe are one of the few universities with a womenâ€™s group to begin with,â€ Maemogren said. â€œItâ€™s a credit to the organization that it has grown and broadened its interests. Many womenâ€™s groups dissolve, while ours has survived and been enriched by an assortment of women.â€
Staff writer Melissa Donahoo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.