A few good women Illustration by Ching Ching Cheng

A few good women

Social clubs provide the spine, conscience and elbow grease of change

By Ellen Snortland 05/13/2010

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If you don’t belong to some type of service organization or club, consider joining one. I don’t care if you’re female or male, how young or old you are — this country benefits from people teaming up together to get things done. And since we’re social animals, it’s good to get out, personally and professionally. Although this column highlights the Women’s City Club of Pasadena, some of our most important accomplishments have come about because of volunteerism and civic mindedness that is corralled by clubs.
Whether it’s Rotary, Soroptomists, Zonta, Kiwanis, Links, the United Nations Association or the Boy Scouts, there is strength in numbers. And, speaking of numbers, our very own Pasadena Women’s City Club (WCC) is looking for 65 women to usher in a new era of its own traditions.
Specifically, if it weren’t for Women’s clubs in the US, we’d be a less vibrant and less democratic society. Yes, I know, there are those of us who shudder at the idea of being even less far along than we are now as a society, given the economy and erosion of human rights. But let me say that women in this country have been on the cutting edge of social progress all along, even before we won the vote. We were on the front lines of the arts, abolition, anti-war, universal suffrage, anti-animal cruelty and peace movements, just to name a few. You could say that women’s clubs have provided the spine, conscience and elbow grease of our nation when it comes to making our communities better for everyone.
Right in our own community we are fortunate to have the WCC, an “umbrella” type of organization that provides a meeting place for educational and social events in addition to business networking. The WCC resides in the Blinn House (a home built in 1906 and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places) and the club itself is approaching its 65th birthday as a women’s organization. As WCC embarks on its 65th year, members are recruiting 65 women to create the next generation of membership. WCC is inviting successful, productive women to see if they are ready to become one of the 65 who will inspire, motivate and help lead a generation of other accomplished women. 
Reminiscent of the Marines, they are looking for a few good women who fit the following criteria, although no one has to fit every single one:
Successful business owners
Women who make you want to be in their presence
Successful career-oriented women
Women who have proven to be accomplished in any area of their lives (family, work, community)
Women mentors (retired or not)
Women respectful of other women, regardless of age, race, and/or sexual orientation
Board members of other organizations
Women who contribute to the community
Women are frequently modest and wouldn’t necessarily describe themselves as successful, even if they are. If I hear one more woman say, “I’m JUST a homemaker,” I might scream. She neglects to tell you she’s volunteered for every single thing anyone ever asked her to do, raised productive children, made a husband successful … sorry folks, that’s not “JUST” anything.
If you feel the criteria do not apply to you, ask someone else and you may be surprised. Other people may view you in a much more generous light than how you see yourself. On the other hand, if you’re a man and reading this, encourage women in your life to step up to the table and get involved with the WCC. (Yes, I said “table,” not “plate.” That’s not a mistake. I never played baseball, nor have I watched it. Stepping up to the table is my way of coining a metaphor, taking it out of the ballpark and into the dining room or conference room.) 
On June 3, the WCC will be holding an Influential Successful Women Cocktail Party (details below) where those interested can find out more about becoming one of the 65 women who will take the club into the next generation.
There’s still a deeply imbedded expectation that women’s work is not as important as that of men’s. As far as I know, the only jobs that really require a specific gender are sperm donations and childbearing. Volunteerism has been seen as the province of females, although men obviously volunteer as well. Women have traditionally been EXPECTED to volunteer, to do the drudgework. Now, as we’ve transitioned into a world where more women work outside the home than ever before, they especially need a club like the WCC where they can socialize, meet other people, network and have a great place to bring clients. And I’ve seen men at the WCC, too. But seriously, the food is great at the WCC, and their homemade popovers are legendary. Join for the solidarity; attend for the popovers! Kidding. Kind of …
You have plenty of time to mark your calendar for the June 3 WCC complimentary cocktail and appetizers event (sorry, no popovers). Pop over and find out about joining. 

The Influential Successful Women Cocktail Party is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at the Women’s City Club, 160 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena. Call (626) 796-0560 or visit womenscityclub.com.

Ellen Snortland teaches a writing workshop in Altadena. Contact her at snortland.com.

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