Women’s club membership wavering
June 2, 2007
CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle From left, Alice Pierce, Nancy Barnes, Lala Barnes, Lueja Clark and Wilma Whitener of the Pleasant Hill Women's Club hold an 1930s membership list that included 38 members. The club currently has 12 active and two inactive members.
PLEASANT HILL — The Pleasant Hill Woman’s Club was formed in the 1920s to provide wives of farmers with a social outlet.
But times have changed in this small community north of Clovis. An increasing shift from small, family-owned farms to commercial operations, more working women, and a more transient population has taken their toll on a club that has spanned across 70 years and three generations.
“We decided against disbanding. We just couldn’t do that,” said club member, Lueta Clark. “So we have decided to go without club officers, to have more tours or outings, have less hostess-led meetings, and no more scrapbooks.”
During its peak years in the 1930s, the Pleasant Hill Woman’s Club had a roster of 38 members. Today, the club has 12 active and two inactive members, ranging in age from 50 to 99.
The dwindling enrollment appears to be part of a trend amongst women’s organizations like home extension clubs.
“We still have strong extension club members, but it’s hard to find new members, and there are some clubs in some communities which are no longer there, like in Dora and Floyd,” said Connie Moyers, a home economist with Roosevelt County Extension Service.
Glenda Belcher, home economist with Curry County Extension Service, said she is also seeing a decline in membership and interest in extension clubs, namely due to time and age constraints.
“The older ladies who have always been in club before either don’t feel like coming to club, or a lot of them have passed away,” Belcher said.
“Back years ago, extension clubs would do a whole day of canning or quilting,” Belcher said. “Also, a lot of extension clubs have historically been educationally based, but with the TV and Internet now, they can learn that way, and so they don’t take the time to come and do these things like they used to.”
Wilma Whitner remembers attending all-day woman’s club meetings in the earlier years. She said the women would gather around and quilt.
“And we used to do a lot of crafts, too. We don’t anymore,” said another member, Alice Pierce.
Nowadays, even the woman’s club’s tours and outings only last about half a day.
According to Nancy Barnes, the club’s dwindling membership is a sign of the times.
“More women are working, families depend more now on two salaries and so they have no time or no interest to join,” Barnes said. “Nowadays, kids are so involved in so many different things, too. They used to all come and play with each other at the meetings, now they are involved in sports and other activities.”
Barnes concluded, “It is a generational thing. The new generation is not as volunteer-oriented as before. In small communities like Pleasant Hill, though, we have always been community-oriented.”
For information about the Pleasant Hill Woman’s Club, call Lueta Clark at 389-5433.