Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club History
In October, 1966, a meeting was held at the home of Mrs. George Bishop for the purpose of instituting a Federated Woman’s Club in the Myrtle Beach area. The meeting was called to order by Mrs. Bishop who then read many reasons why a Federated Woman’s Club is a good organization for any city or town. Mrs. Bishop was appointed temporary president and Mrs. Albert Cooper as temporary secretary. Nominations were made and approved for a nominating committee with Mrs. Francis Hamp as chairman, assisted by Mrs. Truett Kastner and Mrs. Louis Reaves. This committee was formed to draw up a constitution to be ready for the next meeting, along with a slate of officers to be elected for the coming year. This constitution, with minor modifications over the years, is that which is used now. Twenty-one women attended showing a great interest and enthusiasm in promoting educational, social and civic progress in this city, state and nation. This remains the purpose of the club today.
Now, more than forty seven years later, the Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club is continuing to live up to the values set for it by its predecessors. Membership is limited to forty members with the possible addition of up to ten associate members. Active members begin with a provisional year during which voting is the only privilege denied. Honorary members are those who during the course of their membership have made outstanding contributions to the club woman movement on a local and/or state level. Our charter membership is limited to one – our founder, Dot Bishop.
The first twenty-five years of this organization saw it win more awards and recognitions per capita from the state level than any other club in the district. It was a club that was filled with women who held their club in high esteem and who were prepared to do whatever, whenever their club needed. Members set a pattern of serving the community in a wide variety of positions.“It took no time at all for the club to distinguish itself as a corps d’esprit in the area. ”
Fund raisers such as a follies revue established means to reach out a helping hand to struggling students, families and individuals, as well as charities, brought to the attention of the club. Among the many service projects undertaken were the sponsoring of a children’s theater, establishing the city’s first “Just Say No” program, assisting exhibitors at the Carolina Craftsman Show held every year, and handling the registration for the chamber of commerce’s annual Canadian-American Days. Crisis response followed Hurricane Hugo in 1989 when the membership came to the aid of the Town of McClellanville south of us and physically took part in the huge clean-up to help get them back on their feet.
In 1991, the annual bash was created and met with such success that it immediately became the club’s mainstay fund raising effort. The first of these, the Trash Bash, underwrote the expense of bringing Myrtle Beach its first recycling program and is still talked about today. Since then, each year’s theme has supported a wide variety of community needs from funding police department wants to supporting the arts. The club voted to break ties with the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs in 1996 and to continue on in the same pattern of endeavor but on a strictly local level. Other emergencies were responded to, such as serious flooding to our neighboring areas following Hurricane Floyd in 1999 for which funds from the Mask Bash were donated. The year 2000 brought such an overwhelming crowd to the Copacabana Bash that it was clear the event had firmly established itself on the community’s social calendar. The United for Liberty Bash 2001 benefited both our adopted firehouse in New York City, from which eight men had been lost on September 11, as well as our local heroes of the Myrtle Beach Fire and Police Departments and the Horry County Fire and Police Departments. In 2004, the Bash took on a fresh look of elegance when it feted the opening of the new mall, Coastal Grand Myrtle Beach. Well over one thousand invited guests, including Governor Mark Sanford, were on hand for this gala and the Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club added another first to it’s list of achievements.
The developing of a park had been a long time vision of the Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club which, thanks to monies raised at several bashes, was brought to fruition in 1998 after many years of planning. “Gardens by the Sea” is located at 5400 North Ocean Boulevard in the Cabana Section and is a unique project in cooperation with the City of Myrtle Beach. The idea of the park came from a discussion shortly following the loss of a beloved club member to breast cancer. A positive, spirited and caring soul whose love of roses, which is also the club’s flower, inspired the creating of a rose garden in her memory. From there spawned the concept of the gardens where deceased members could be memorialized while, at the same time, we celebrate the beautiful gift of life each is blessed with here by the magnificent Atlantic. Officially dedicated on October 25, 2000, Gardens by the Sea is now a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Open to the public, the park features a beach rose garden, children’s play area, gazebo, sunbathing section, grassy picnic space, restrooms and more. An ecofriendly renovation of all native plantings took place in 2008 in keeping with the club’s long standing Green platform. The raised flower beds surround walkways featuring personalized pavers and benches honoring friends, children, treasured pets and anniversaries as well as remembering the demised. Memory Lane is highlighted by a tranquil, waterfall fountain commemorating deceased club members and a garden arch which was more recently constructed in honor of our founder. And, thus, the gardens continue as a living project of the club. “We are very proud to have received the 2001 Community Appearance Award for Excellence in a Public/Private Partnership from the City of Myrtle Beach.”
The Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club is firmly committed to promoting “volunteerism” and to Caring for our Community through the service and leadership of its members. Its purpose is both educational and charitable with an interest in helping those whose needs may not be met through traditional avenues when our charter allows. Currently, the club donates annually to more than twenty charities, organizations and special needs within the community. An annual Back2School program was sponsored which strives to meet an identified need in each of the five schools within the city limits. In December of 2008 a crisis of homeless students was unveiled at Myrtle Beach High School which, in fact, reflects a current national problem. The Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club responded immediately with a fund raiser and a pledge to remedy this situation. Additionally, at both Thanksgiving and Christmas seasonal cheer may be brought to families, children and/or the elderly in way of food, clothing, toys and sundries. Myrtle Beach High School and local college students are assisted by scholarships; shelter homes receive substantial donations; and special, community needs are met. Breast cancer research, children born with birth defects as well as those who have suffered serious burns, the handicapped and the aged with restricted income; and homeless animals are among the very many diverse concerns which are sponsored. Another “first” of the Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club is to have funded the city’s K-9 Police Drug Dog, Recon, and to have also outfitted him as well as the second K-9 of our unit, Atos!