Think of the Dunwoody Woman’s Club the next time you drive past the Dunwoody Nature Center on Roberts Drive.
Or the Donaldson-Bannister Farm House on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.
Or the Ronald McDonald House on Peachtree Dunwoody Road.
Or the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.
Or the Spruill Center for the Arts on Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
Or Dunwoody High School or any number of other local schools or city landmarks.
The Dunwoody Woman’s Club, one of the largest clubs in the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, has been instrumental in either developing or enhancing each of these sites since the club was founded in 1971.
Club members celebrated their involvement in these and many other projects in and beyond the city’s boundaries in a 40th anniversary and holiday luncheon at the Dunwoody Country Club last Thursday, Dec. 15.
Among those attending the festivities were four women -- Pat Adams, Carolyn Jones, Kathy Hanna and Marilyn Dalrymple -- who are among the club’s six founding members of the Dunwoody Nature Center. The other two founding members of the Nature Center have since moved to other states -- Rita Langley lives in Texas and Eleanor Lehner lives in Alabama.
The center came into existence as Dunwoody Park in 1975 through the efforts of the club and other groups that were seeking to preserve the land in its pristine state. DeKalb County had purchased the land with a federal grant and the club and other groups helped clean it up so it could be used as a place for Dunwoody to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial. In 1990-91 the Dunwoody Woman’s Club and the Spalding Garden Club convinced the county to turn the park into a nature center. The county agreed and the nature center was incorporated in 1992.
Since then the club has added to the gardens along the paths, trails and road leading into the center, funded the master gardener projects at the center for 24 years, obtained a U.S. Forestry grant to create the “Talking Trees” project and held a fundraiser to create the sign at the entrance and install the plantings there.
At the Donaldson-Bannister Farm House, club members planted two areas, produced a landscape plan, got 12 community organizations to adopt a garden at the farm, convinced the county to fix the sprinkler system and encouraged another Master Gardener group to add more gardens.
Club members created a butterfly garden at the Ronald McDonald House when it was on Houston Mill. When the house was moved to its current location on Peachtree Dunwoody Road inside I-285, most of the plantings were moved, too.
Several local schools have outdoor classrooms courtesy of the Woman’s Club. Students learn everything from science to creative writing in these stimulating fresh-air settings. Members also created courtyard gardens that students now care for at two schools.
At the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center (NDCAC), club members worked with the county to clean and re-plant the inner courtyard, paid for a sprinkler system in the front gardens and held a plant swap to add plant material to the courtyard gardens.
This fall they contributed plants to the new shade garden at the greenhouse complex in Brook Run Park and also made a financial contribution.
In its 40 years, the Dunwoody Woman’s Club has accomplished much more than breaking ground for gardens and landscape plantings.
They have played a significant role in creating an amazing amount of community resources that residents of Dunwoody enjoy on a regular basis. A few of those include:
- Spearheading the move of the library from Nandina Lane to the NDCAC building.
- Founding the Dunwoody Stage Door Players in 1974.
- Founding the Spruill Center for the Arts and providing continuing support since 1985.
- Initiating the Dunwoody Fourth of July Parade in 1976.
They celebrated these and many other service projects that have enhanced the quality of life in Dunwoody at the holiday luncheon where 120 members reserved seats. There were numerous past presidents and about eight charter members at the event.
The festivities began at 9:30 with a reception for past presidents and a social hour. That was followed by a business meeting and then the luncheon and anniversary celebration.
During the luncheon, club members were entertained by a Dunwoody High School string trio composed of seniors Juliana Fritts, Kacey Ingram and Briana Robinson.
Philip Barnard, orchestra director at Dunwoody High, referred the musicians to the club. The previous week the club had donated $1,000 to the school for the purchase of a much-needed scrim curtain for the stage in the new Fine Arts Auditorium.
When club President Becky Schaaf presented the check to drama teacher and theatre director Tammy Wichman at the school’s holiday concert, the audience responded with an enthusiastic applause and shouts of approval.
The 40th anniversary celebration luncheon concluded with the singing of Christmas carols.
Now the mantle passes to a new president, Linda Mote, and a new group of officers to launch the club’s fifth decade and continue the momentum of the first 40 years.
When Mote, who previously served as president in 2006-2007 and also is the 4th District of Women's Club's president, and the new leadership take office in February, they no doubt will quickly begin work in the club’s six areas of service, Arts, Conservation, Education, Home Life, International Outreach and Public Issues.
One major project already has a head of steam. The Community Improvement Program is working with the Interfaith Outreach Center in Doraville, which helps homeless families get back on their feet.
The project is an example of the club’s mission of service not just in Dunwoody but wherever it is needed. The need is great and so is the will of the members, with many giving far more than the 25 hours of volunteer service that is required each year.
So next time you’re driving around Dunwoody or elsewhere in the metro area and pass a landmark or organization where volunteers from the woman’s club have donated their time to make the community and the region a better place to live, take a moment and say a quiet … thank you, ladies.