Masury-Brookfield Women’s Club celebrated its 60th anniversary at its annual banquet May 16, honoring key members and pledging to keep active in the community.
With service club memberships hurting across the nation, the Masury-Brookfield Women’s Club finds itself relatively stable at 17 members.
The idea of a women’s club comes from the days when women stayed at home while their husbands worked. That is no longer the case, but the club’s commitment to community service is still essential, members said.
“I just want everyone to know that, seeing this club practically from the beginning, it is the best thing that there is in Brookfield, and we’ve helped the community over the years with so many things,” said Joanne Sydlowski, the longest-serving member.
Sydlowski, who turned 80 the first week of June, was honored for 50 years with the club, and was named a Distinguished Woman with the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs.
“Two different times we had to revive this club, and I’m very sad right now that even the federation in Ohio has changed and diminished so much,” Sydlowski said. “This club will go on because of people like Ruth (Hawkins) and Dawn (Burns).”
Hawkins, a 15-year member, was installed for another term as president. Burns, a 20-year-member, is a past president and also has served in many capacities with the Ohio GFWC’s Northeast District, including two years as district president.
“Joanne has been here since day one with me,” Burns said. “She and Tillie Benadella and Myrdis Ledbetter sat me down, brand new, ‘Guess what, you’re gonna be the new president.’ I hadn’t even sat on any other board. They had a lot of faith in me, and I truly appreciate that. I’ve tried to make sure I live up to the standards that they set for me.”
Burns was named the club’s Woman of the Year, only the fourth woman to ever receive that honor.
One of the club’s long-standing initiatives, and one that club members speak of with pride, is the annual scholarship to a graduating student of Brookfield High School. This year, Dru Gerace received the $500 award for her academic, athletic and extracurricular pursuits within the school, her perseverance through tough personal times, and her volunteering within the school and in the community, Hawkins said.
The club supports the school and its initiatives with financial assistance and labor, and community endeavors such as placing flags on veterans’ graves for Memorial Day. When there was a Homecoming or a Summer Fest, the club was there, members said.
“I am the happiest when I know I have presented scholarships for kids and all the work we’ve done to make this community worth itself,” Sydlowski said.
The club’s activities have evolved over the years – it once sponsored horse shows and blood drives. Hawkins said she is open to club members’ ideas and tries to encourage their interests.
“We aren’t afraid to get out in the community and help,” said Hawkins’ daughter, Becky Zyvonoski, who just relinquished the position of vice president. “We always try to butt our way into the community, because sometimes they don’t tell us.”
Sydlowski said she’ll stick with the club as long as she can.
“I want to see it (club) continue,” Sydlowski said. “It just makes me feel good when I know we’ve done something for the community.”
The club is on hiatus until the fall.