A lot of women work these days, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to make their community a better place to live. Years ago, they had the option of joining the Goldsboro Woman’s Club, but many could not attend meetings because they worked during the day when meetings were held.
So, in 1955, the Goldsboro Junior Woman’s Club was organized as a junior department under the Goldsboro Woman’s Club. Its members elected to become a separate club in 1958, and the Goldsboro Junior Woman’s Club was born, with meetings at night when working women could attend.
“We still wanted to do the things we do locally,” said president Meredith Shivar, a member since 2005. “We are a charity and have a tax identification number. But now we focus our efforts solely on what our members are interested in.”
Beth Stackhouse, a member since 2008, said when women get to the point in time when they’re near retirement or when their children are out of the house, they can devote more time to club projects.
“A lot of us want to give back to the community,” she said. “We want to do things, but we can’t do it as often or be as involved.”
One project the juniors have focused on since 1965 is the Shoe Fund. It’s still done each year.
“The first year in 1965, they did a Shoe and Slipper Ball,” Shivar said. “The mayor did a proclamation May 8, 1965, to make that the Shoe Fund Day. We don’t have the ball anymore.
“What’s interesting about the Shoe Fund is in 1965, there was a need for children to have shoes. And there’s a continuing need for that now. It doesn’t go away.”
The club provides vouchers each fall to give to social workers in every public school in Wayne County. The social worker takes the children to any Shoe Show store in the county and uses the $45 vouchers to get shoes and socks. The store gives the Junior Woman’s Club a discount.
Shivar said the club gives out 150 vouchers every year. The vouchers are made possible through local contributions through a letter-writing campaign.
“There are so many children that need shoes that it’s kind of a shock to me,” said club member Beth Stackhouse. “It just never ceases to amaze me how many kids don’t have what they need.”
Another project is providing car seats to parents who can’t afford one. They are recommended through the hospital here. Club members purchase the car seats and take them to the hospital.
“And in the past, we did a lot of reading programs where members would go into the schools and tutor children and do readalongs and that sort of thing,” Shivar said. “But as our club dynamic has changed where we have working members, you can’t really just leave work.”
The club also does a student arts festival some years.
“We contact all the art teachers in Wayne County, and they bring student art to the Arts Council, and the Arts Council helps us hang it and judge it,” Shivar said. “We give small monetary awards, and every child gets a certificate of participation. The art is displayed at the Arts Council.”
Both Shivar and Stackhouse joined the club because friends and neighbors invited them to a meeting.
“When I moved in the neighborhood in Goldsboro, growing up in Mount Olive and working in Wilson, I really didn’t know anybody in Goldsboro,” Shivar said. “Since joining the club, I’ve met a lot of wonderful ladies over the years that I never would have met otherwise.”
Stackhouse’s friend took her to a meeting and Stackhouse was hooked from the beginning.
“When you realize it’s a group of ladies who are doing some good things in the community, you want to be a part of that,” she said. “My family has always been one of community service; when my grandmother was older, she cut back to 12 clubs instead of 26. You want your community to be better.”
Jennifer Wilder, a member since 2008, said she joined the club because she liked the fact that a lot of the focus was on education and children.
Although the club has changed somewhat over the years, the goal is still the same, Shivar said.
“It’s that community service drive,” she said. “You want to make the community where you live a better place. I think the community need never really goes away. We’re just of the mindset that if we can make a difference in a small way — by giving someone shoes, a car seat or whatever it is — then we’re helping. And that’s what we can do.”
One future goal is to get more military spouses involved with the club.
“I think this is a good opportunity for a lot of women who are military spouses who come to Goldsboro and don’t know anyone,” Stackhouse said.
Shivar said the club has had some military wives join who had to leave when their husbands got reassigned. But while they were members, they jumped right in and gave it everything they had.
A more immediate goal is to increase membership.
“It’s a club for anybody,” Wilder said. “You do not have to be crafty. You do not have to be good at baking or cooking. We have something for everyone to do.”