Lenoir Woman's Club hailed for service, sisterhood

Apr. 13, 2014 @ 06:35 AM

Members of the Lenoir Woman’s Club say they were drawn to the group because of its community service projects, but once there they found amazing fellowship.

Toye Allen, for example, as the chair of the group’s education committee is in charge of interviewing students for the scholarships that the club awards each year.

“It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done,” she said, because there are so many deserving students.

But as soon as she finished talking about the rewards of helping Caldwell County students continue their educations, she talked about having lost her husband and son, and finding so much support among the club members.

“If I hadn’t had these ladies around me, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said.

The club was founded April 17, 1906, as the Woman’s Betterment Association, largely providing services for local schools but soon expanding to address a number of health, social and civic issues. Now, when club president Lida Martinat tries to rattle off all the things the club does, a listener starts to wonder whether it would be easier to list what the club isn’t involved in.

“If it’s in Caldwell County, we support it one way or another,” Martinat said.

It was the club’s past work in the community that helped convince Victoria Howell to join last fall. She said that when she was a child, the Lenoir Woman’s Club helped sponsor the day care center where her aunt worked and helped establish the first African-American library in this area, the George Washington Carver Library.

“When I see stuff like that, it sort of impresses me,” she said.

In the summer of 2008, just two years after the club celebrated its centennial, the group sold its clubhouse on Pennton Avenue in Lenoir because of the cost of upkeep. But while they don’t have a building as a physical symbol, the members hope their participation in local activities is a more than ample testament to their presence.

“We’re just a little handful of ladies, and we want the community to know … we are still working hard,” Martinat said.