The Allendale Woman’s Club of New Jersey, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose volunteer members are dedicated to performing community service activities and philanthropy in Allendale and beyond. The AWC is a member of The New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs and The General Federation of Women’s Clubs. These organizations connect the club to service and mission with women around the region and state to make a positive impact.
History: On December 13, 1918, the Community Club was founded as a Woman’s Auxiliary to the Allendale Board of Trade. There were 20 members who were vital in the creation of Memorial Park for those who had served in World War I. The club fundraised for the creation of the library and lobbied for street signs and streetlights in town. In 1922, a Ridgewood Woman’s Club member visited and told members about the Federation of Women’s Clubs. On May 26, 1922, the name was changed to the Woman’s Club of Allendale, and the club joined The New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs. They continued to work to benefit the community; sponsoring a Girl Scout troop in 1927 and donating chairs to the library in 1928.
The Junior Woman’s Club of Allendale was founded and federated on May 18, 1933 with Margaret Critchley as the first president. The Junior Woman’s Club was established as a community service organization for women between the ages of 18 and 35, at which point members could “graduate” into the Woman’s Club of Allendale (if they chose). The group started as a few women who got together regularly to play bridge. There were 26 charter members, and the iris was chosen (and still is) the club flower. This group has been affiliated with The New Jersey State Federation of Woman’s Clubs since its inception. During the war years–from 1941 to 1945–the club worked on war efforts, selling bonds, knitting for soldiers, and assisting the Red Cross. Several of the daughters of the original members went on to become members themselves in the 1960s, including Mrs. Thomas Watson, daughter of the first president.
By the 1960’s, there were three women’s clubs in Allendale: The Junior Woman’s Club of Allendale, the Woman’s Club of Allendale, and the Woman’s Evening Club of Allendale. There was also briefly a Sub-Junior Club of Allendale for girls in high school. Each of these clubs contributed many items of value to the Allendale community. The Woman’s Club of Allendale made draperies for the library in 1954 and sponsored a well-baby clinic. In 1960, the club donated the funds for a kitchen for the Allendale Borough Hall. The Junior Woman’s Club organized a quilt project illustrating historic sites, which was presented as a gift to the Borough of Allendale on July 4, 1976. It still hangs in the municipal building today in the “Quilt Room.” Together, the three clubs raised money to reconstruct the local swimming pool after it was damaged by a flash flood in 1945 and worked on the writing of A History of Allendale in 1964.
Many of the events and projects that continue today come from these previous clubs. For example, as far back as 1964, the Woman’s Club of Allendale held an annual geranium sale (which still continues to this day) and donated the proceeds to plant a tree by the ambulance building. The Junior Woman’s Club started the annual Bookmark contest, Busy Books creative writing project for the third-grade class, and Breakfast with Santa. The library activities program–which is still sponsored by the club–initially began as a story hour for children and for a while included puppet shows in which club members would act out the stories. In 1993, the Junior Woman’s Club was renamed the Allendale Woman’s Club. The requirement that members leave at age 35 was eliminated.
Today, the Allendale Woman’s Club has donated monies to many projects: Building of Crestwood Park playground, purchasing bullet proof vests for the Allendale police, and supporting Boy Scout Eagle projects. In addition, the club reaches out to the wider community and donates to The Center for Food Action, Center for Hope & Safety (formerly Shelter Our Sisters), The Center for Women’s Heart Health at Valley Hospital, Eva’s Village, Oasis, Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Rebuilding Together, West Bergen Mental Healthcare, and YCS Holley Center.
In the course of 100 years of women working together, the club continues that tradition of volunteerism to make a difference. The more than 60 diverse and talented club women are dedicated to honoring the goals of the earlier women’s clubs and strengthening communities. In 2018, the Allendale Woman’s Club has celebrations planned to mark the centennial, so please return soon for more details.