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South Gate Women's Club Seeks to Grow Membership, Future Funding

At a time when service clubs and nonprofits are struggling to find funds, there is one self-sufficient organization that worries more about tomorrow.

The South Gate Women’s Club, a service club founded in 1919, has a strong financial legacy, but it may face difficult times in the future.

Changes over the generations have taken a toll on the club and members wonder how long they can sustain the organization. The club still has money, but it worries that it does not have the members to ensure a prosperous future.

“We do have money [for now],” said Paula Grimes, vice president of the South Gate Women’s Club and a longtime member. The club's general fund was created from the sale of a clubhouse in the late '80s and the proceeds have helped maintain the club's charitable programs.

But that won't be the case in the future if more money is not raised.

“Our problem is getting our members to raise additional money,” Grimes said.

The demands of today’s economy have limited the amount of work that members of service clubs can contribute. Couples now both have to work, which cuts the time they can dedicate to volunteering.

“Now it's two people in a family who work,” said Grimes, including wives and mothers. “They don’t have much time.” 

The number of club members stands at 40, but not all are able to contribute as much time as they once did. Many are growing older, and some have moved out of South Gate to be nearer to their children.

“We have several members who are over 90 years old, [and] many between 70 and 80,” said Grimes. “Many live out of state.”

One way in which longtime members are encouraging newbies to participate is by taking into account their ideas and allowing them to help with issues for which they are passionate.

“Maybe we would get more interest if there is a project that they like,” said Naomi Nixon, president of the South Gate Women’s Club and a veteran member of the club. “In order to keep fresh ideas, you need new people.”

The club members support various causes on the local and international level. Their efforts include scholarships for high school students in South Gate while international projects include donations to the Heifer International, a nonprofit that tries to eradicate global poverty by providing seeds and livestock to the poor.

There are some new members who believe that a focus on more local causes will help the club grow and prosper.

“I believe that we should help more of the actual organizations here,” such as a local school or another organization that does work within South Gate, said Helen Jaramillo, who joined the club around three years ago. “I prefer that it be mostly for the South Gate area.”

Members are aware that previous generations worked diligently to raise the money used today by the club to support itself.

“They worked very hard, so that this club could have this operating money,” said Nixon. Nixon thinks the future will be uncertain if current members do not put in the same amount of effort. “I feel bad because I do not see our club working as much.”

A challenging financial future may not be all negative, some members suggest, if struggling to raise funds serves to unify the club.

“I think working together with people makes everybody stronger,” said Nixon. “The strong clubs are scrounging to find money.”

If you would like to join the South Gate Women's Club, you can come for the club's monthly meeting at the Girls Clubhouse, every second Wednesday of the month at 10:30 a.m.

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