Payson Womans Club Serving Community For 87 Years

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The Payson Womans Club boasts 87 years of continuous dedication to the community.

The club started in 1921 and incorporated in 1922. At the first meeting, the 34 charter members began planning for a building fund and the creation of a library.

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All together in one place at the same time, members of the Payson Womans Club take time out from their meeting to pose for a picture.

The Womans Club library started in two cupboards in the coatroom of one of the two school buildings that were on the property where the Community Presbyterian Church stands. The reading materials were donated books and magazines.

New books eventually were stocked on consignment from the University of Arizona.

The frugal, far-sighted women decided the money spent on freighting the books up from and back to the university would go further if it was used to purchase a collection for the library.

The library moved from the school building to the parsonage at the church. After years of fund-raising efforts, the Payson Womans Club was able to buy property on Main Street. While the property had buildings, none were truly suited for a club building, so the fund-raising efforts continued.

The Payson Womans Club building was dedicated on Nov. 17, 1951. It was enjoyed by everyone. It was used for card parties, potluck suppers, all sorts of programs, weddings, church services, banquets and cooking classes.

A 12-foot-by-12-foot room in the building was used as the library, it housed 1,600 volumes. Work on a formal library building started in September of 1959. By the time it was given to the Town of Payson in 1987, the library had grown to 30,000 volumes.

The Womans Club founded a Junior Womans Club in 1953. This group was the power driving the campaign to get Payson a medical clinic. That clinic was the foundation for today's highly honored Payson Regional Medical Center.

Now the Payson Womans Club is mentoring another generation of young women through its Juniorette Club, which was founded in December 2006.

It was organized by Anita White, the Womans Club president, and partially funded with a $200 grant from the General Federation of Women's Clubs.

The young women, ranging in age from 10 to 17, learn the proper procedures for conducting a meeting, using Robert's Rules of Order, gain experience in public speaking and community involvement.

There were 14 members chartering the Juniorette Club, now 17 young women participate.

The girls and the members of the Payson Womans Club provide the inventory for the club's gift shop. The shop is open the first Friday of the month and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday. A variety of items can be found on its shelves, almost all of them handmade.

Behind the gift shop, which is on the west side of the club building, an indoor swap meet is taking shape, eventually the facility will also be an archive of the club's historical materials, White said.

The Payson Womans Club offers a children's craft program once a month, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. the third Thursday.

The members also provide support, both financially and with volunteers, to the Payson Senior Citizens Center; they participate in the Clothe-A-Child campaign; sponsor the Young Authors' program at Julia Randall Elementary School at the end of each school year; and support the library's summer reading program.

The Payson Womans Club holds the deed to and maintains the Payson Pioneer Cemetery.

The building is available for rent, just as it was when it first opened.

The club meets at 1 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month.

To learn more, contact Anita White at (928) 474-5999 or e-mail her at anitawhite@npgcable.com.

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