The St. Andrews Woman's Club (SAWC) was organized by 23 women interested in creating a better community in the growing St. Andrews area of the Midlands. The club was chartered on March 15, 1963 by the S.C. Federation of Women's Clubs, which became the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC-SC) in 1990. St. Andrews Woman's Club has been an active member in the GFWC-SC with representation on all levels. Club member, Marian St. Clair, served as president of GFWC-SC from 2002-2004, and is the current GFWC treasurer. Club member, Laurie O‘Kelly, is currently our GFWC-SC President for the 2010-2012 term. Several members currently serve on the state level in the 2010-2012 administration.
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is a unifying force, bringing together local women’s clubs, with members dedicated to strengthening their communities and enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. With 1000,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members are community leaders who work locally to create global change by supporting the arts, preserving natural resources, advancing education, promoting healthy lifestyles, encouraging civic involvement and working toward world peace and understanding. For more information go to www.GFWC.org.
Our Membership has been fostered through the years with annual membership teas, the creation of the SAWC Membership pin, and awards such as the Outstanding Clubwoman of the Year Award and the Dianne McCarty Spirit Award. St. Andrews Woman's Club renovated the St. Andrews Community Recreation Center in the mid 1960's and began holding their monthly meetings at the Center in 1968. Through the years, SAWC supported the Center by sponsoring softball teams, chaperoning youth parties, updating the interior of the building, and contributing to the establishment of the St. Andrews Swimming Pool. The club continued to use and improve the Community Center until 1996 when the Recreation Association disbanded and returned ownership of the building to the School District.
The summer of 1964, club members pooled their resources and began a library project with 65 hard cover books in a corner of the St. Andrews Elementary School. That fall the library moved to a room in the Community Center and was staffed by club members two days a week. By July 1966, 1200 books per month were loaned and Richland County Library supported the club's efforts to locate a permanent site. After 13 bad leads, a site was offered by Home Federal Savings & Loan on Bush River Road and in August, 1967, ground breaking ceremonies were held. The St. Andrews Woman's Club was recognized for its efforts in obtaining the library for the community. In 1968, the club formed the Friends of the Library, a community support group that is still active today for libraries throughout Richland County. The popular library outgrew its original building and in 1992, moved to a new facility on Broad River Road. St. Andrews Woman's Club celebrated the library's progress with a monetary contribution of $5,000. As the needs of the St. Andrews Branch Library diminished, the club expanded its support of the Irmo Branch of the Lexington County Library and has continued to support school libraries and literary efforts.
Over the years, St. Andrews Woman's Club has employed a variety of fund-raisers to support its many community activities. Early projects included bake sales, talent shows, fruitcake sales, flea markets, cookbook sales and annual craft auctions. In 1966, the club sponsored its first Fashion Show and Bridge Benefit and netted $300. This Benefit was continued until 1981. In 1982, the first St. Andrews Woman's Club Bridal Showcase was held. This event netted $1,845 and registered 194 brides. The St. Andrews Woman's Club has become the premier bridal planning event in the Midlands, with the 2009 Bridal Showcase netting over $35,000 and registering over 500 brides and grooms. With a successful fundraiser established, the club has been able to make significant contributions to community projects such as the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Garden, St. Andrews Kids Café, Canoeing for Kids, Nancy K Perry Children’s Shelter, Nurturing Center, Sexual Trauma Services, Sharing God’s Love, SisterCare, Dream Riders, Woman’s Shelter, Operation Smile, First Steps-Lexington County, Family Shelter, The Specialminds Foundation, Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc., InVest USA, Palmetto Place Children’s Emergency Shelter, Birthright of Columbia, Home Works of South Carolina, Capital Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity and Family Connections of South Carolina.
Community service projects through the years have benefited the St. Andrews area as well as South Carolina with thousands of hours of volunteer service. In addition to the earlier projects with the Community Center and Library, The St. Andrews Directory, a newcomer's guide for the growing area, was produced every other year from 1964 until the early 1980's. The club began a project entitled Big Bird's Birthday Party, which provided area preschoolers with hearing, vision, and dental screenings, health and safety presentations, and a party with several Sesame Street characters. The project began with vision screening for one school in 1964-1965 and expanded to include screenings for many area children. The project continued until 1987 when state law mandated health screenings. The club has sponsored events for the girls residing at Willow Lane School and adopted the Judy Thomas Cottage at Carolina Children's Home for three years.
Other initiatives supported through the years include educational scholarships, citizens awards, traffic light at the intersection of Broad River and Bush River Roads, seat belt and child-restraint use and legislation, American Cancer Society projects, and sponsoring a Christmas Tour of Homes to establish the Lexington County Breast Cancer Survivor Fund in the 1990's. Hundreds of projects focusing on community improvement and fostering a better environment for youth have been planned and accomplished each year by club members. St. Andrews Woman's Club continues to make a difference in our community.