GFWC GFWC/Maine Federation of Women's Clubs


How it all began:  In 1868, Jane Cunningham Croly, a newspaper woman in New York City, writing under the name of "Jennie June," wanted to attend a banquet to honor Charles Dickens.  Mrs. Croly was denied entrance because she was a woman.  "Jennie June" felt that it was most unfortunate that men could participate in such interesting and cultural experiences, but not women.  She then founded the Sorosis Club, which was for women only, to "represent the active interests of women, and create a bond of friendship between them."  A few years later, women's club members from all over the country were invited to meet in New York City, where on April 24, 1890, the first president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC) stated, "We look for unity, but unity in diversity."

GFWC is one of the world's largest and oldest women's service organizations.  Working locally through approximately 3,200 clubs in the United States and globally in more than 12 countries,  GFWC members support the arts, preserve natural resources, promote education, encourage healthy lifestyles, stress civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding.

In June of 1892, Maine formed a state federation, and in 1894 the Maine Federation became the first state to become affiliated with GFWC.  We have two charter clubs still in existence, the GFWC/Skowhegan Woman's Club and the GFWC/Dexter Women's Literary Club.  The 19 clubs in the state are divided into four districts.

In its early years, GFWC Maine was very influential in promoting the passage of legislation establishing State Traveling Libraries and the passage of an appropriation to develop a Forestry Department at the University of Maine.  In 1910-1911, its clubwomen worked for AND against Women's Suffrage. In 1911 they worked hard for the passage of the Child Labor Law in Maine.  During World War I, they devoted many hours to the Red Cross and during World War II much time and effort went into raising funds for the "Bomber Drive."  More recently, clubs have joined together in support of such worthy causes as:  raising funds to increase awareness of domestic violence and prevention, as well as alcohol and substance abuse.  The 2004-2006 President's Special Project was "Go Red for Healthy Hearts in Maine" where we joined with the American Heart Association to raise awareness and provide educational materials to Maine women about cardiovascular disease risks, prevention and treatment.  In 2006-2008, the Maine Women's Fund was increased by $5,000 due to work done by Maine Federation women.  This was followed by the 2008-2010 special project of "The Food Pantry, partnering with Good Shepherd Food Bank."  Thousands of dollars were raised, as well as volunteering in local food pantries and collecting food.

GFWC Maine's many fields of work are incorporated in six community service programs: Art, Conservation, Education, Home Life, International Outreach, and Public Issues, which conform with GFWC.  All of the programs cover the major aspects of today's living.

Maine Federation clubwomen continue to perform outstanding service in Community Improvement, supporting their local libraries and providing thousands of dollars for scholarships. We seek to unite and strengthen the effect of community service work through volunteerism at home and throughout the world.

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