Guam’s first civic women’s organization

The Guam Women’s Club was the first women’s organization on Guam. It was founded in February of 1952 and formally incorporated as a non-profit organization on 10 March 1953. The original incorporator members included Patricia M. Ehrhart, Betty Pilgrim, Bethia C. Sessions, Phyllis H. Tyng, Melba Shriver, Isabel T. Guzman and Agueda I. Johnston.

Mission

The purposes of the Club are:

  • To investigate, discuss and seek improvement of conditions within the Territory of Guam which affect the general welfare, education and health of the population;
  • To engage in research on local, Pacific-Asiatic and World problems;
  • To lend support to other civic and service organizations in their efforts to better local conditions;
  • To extend the public benefit phases of the Club to as many persons as possible;
  • To engage in fundraising activities for the purpose of securing funds to be used for public benefit programs.

The Club is governed by a twelve-member executive council comprised of an elected board of directors, chairpersons of the membership, luncheon, and publicity committees who are appointed by the president and approved by the board of directors, an immediate past officer of the club and the club historian who is appointed by the president.

Membership

Membership is limited to 200 women. A member in good standing must sponsor all applicants for membership with the club. Any woman residing on Guam is eligible to apply for membership with the club provided she is willing to participate in club activities.

There are four classes of membership: active, life, associate and honorary members. The general membership of the club meets on the last Friday of every month from August through May.

Community contributions

Early activities of the Guam Women’s Club included fundraising, lobbying for legislation, various island beautification and clean-up campaigns, educational programs, youth programs and programs for the elderly and ill.

Some notable early projects of the club were: the re-establishment of the Guam Museum in 1952, the creation of the Padre Palomo and Latte Stone parks in Hagåtña, the lobbying for legislation that resulted in the creation of the village post offices, the Guam flower, and canine control; the creation of a scholarship program for college/university students and the creation of the Guam Youth Building Fund which was used for the construction of youth recreation centers which were located on the Paseo in Hagåtña just in front of the Paseo Stadium, and at the Agana Swimming Pool.

Fundraising activities have been the primary focus of the Guam Women’s Club in recent years. The annual Mardi Gras Celebration first organized by the Club in 1954 has become the signature fundraiser for the Guam Women’s Club Scholarship program. This celebration was fashioned after Mardi Gras celebrations from around the world, and held just before Lent. The scholarship program was created in 1952 with a $150 scholarship awarded to a Territorial College (now the University of Guam) student seeking a teaching certificate. In 2006, the Guam Women’s Club scholarship program supported three full-time University of Guam students.

Other fundraising events organized by the Guam Women’s Club have allowed the club to provide cash donations to other community non-profit organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Guam Symphony, the Sugar Plum Tree, the Get Healthy Guam Coalition, the Guam Girl Scouts, the Guam Humanities Council, Erica’s House, Ayuda Foundation, the Guam Memorial Hospital Volunteers Association, the Annual Christmas Drop, the Bookmobile, Island Girl Power, Sanctuary Incorporated, the Alee Shelter, St. Dominic’s and numerous other charitable and service organizations.

By Jillette Leon-Guerrero