During President Virginia Yermoli’s
last two years of office, the Covid pandemic introduced many hardships. The limitations of the ability to assemble in person did not deter the volunteers under her administration to continued to serve the community. “When COVID started, it was not easy to maintain membership engaged. We could not get together, we could not fundraise. Until then, we were fundraising by offering happy hours every week, with music, dance, or just getting together to enjoy each other’s company and open our clubhouse to potential members. However, we managed to stay connected through my never-ending emails, ‘keeping the membership informed,’ bulletins, sending cards, or calling members to see how they were doing. We have known how to learn to roll with the punches. Taking a note from our Founding Sisters book, we are resilient. A mere pandemic will not stop us from doing what we must.”
The building’s Forty Year re-certification application was submitted to the city of Miami and took approximately fifteen months to get the final approval. The inside of the clubhouse was repainted. The club received a grant from the Villagers to restore the stage to the original club floor plan. Architectural drawings were designed for this purpose. We created a Dade County pine garden and bench honoring our partnership with The Villagers organization. The kitchen remodeling was completed, and repaired the flat roof. Plans for a new entrance to our grounds, a gift from Annie Macdonanald-Korth, were sent to the city for approval.
During the pandemic lockdown, our members combined forces to service the community in many ways. The Feed Miami Project to help provide food for shelters and to feed the homeless was started to help South Florida farmers who were struggling because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Amanda Megysei, Edina Huskic, Karen Cunningham, and their volunteers sold discounted produce to friends and neighbors to raise money to donate to shelters, food banks, and the hungry. Boxes of produce were donated to the Miami Rescue Mission, the Hope Rescue Mission, and at the corner of S. Douglas Rd and Florida Ave in Coconut Grove. Over 649 bagged meals were delivered to the Hope Relief Food Bank, the Overtown Community Center, and St James Baptist Church, to the homeless at the Jose Marti underpass near NW Brickell, Liberty City, and the West Grove.
Under the direction of the Conservation and Beautification committees, the “Face Mask Project” was initiated. Fifteen members of the Club joined a Sewing Circle to make over 1400 eco-friendly reusable face masks. These masks were donated to friends, family, and nonprofit organizations in Coconut Grove. Recipients included: Easter Seals, Thelma Gibson Initiative, Veterans Hospital, ICU Baby, YMCA, Jackson Memorial Hospital, the Veteran’s Hospital, and the homeless.
The Creative Minds Mentoring Program was established to mentor local youth on various topics. The program’s Zoom and FaceTime video conferencing sessions helped students interested in creative writing, manuscript editing, playwriting, drawing, painting, collage, and test-taking techniques. Volunteers included founder Karen Cunningham, and volunteers Cynthia Shelly and Emily Boland. A fundraising effort initiative was created by Karen Cunningham , Amanda Megyesi, and Virginia Yermoli, To continue fundraising. They designed, sourced, and priced tee shirts and grocery bags to sell on the club’s website store.
To celebrate our 129th Founders Anniversary, a “Dancing Through the Decades” theme was chosen to tie the many decades of the club’s history. Members were encouraged to dress to represent the many decades our club has seen. A short message from Mary Barr Monroe, was performed by Frida McMillan, under the direction of Sandy Riley. Live music represented all the decades of music and dance. The newly renovated kitchen ribbon was cut by current President Virginia Yermoli and Past-Presidents Marlene Erven, Charity Johnson, and Nancy Boggio. A champagne toast and cake cutting were followed by the singing of Happy Birthday to the club.
The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove (WCCG) and the Coconut Grove Negro Woman’s Club (CGNWC) joined forces to celebrate Black History Month. Carolyn Donaldson (CGNWC) brought together our two speakers. Leona Cooper-Baker (descendent of Black Bahamian immigrants) and Loretta Scippio Whittle (descendent of Black migrants from North Florida and nearby states) shared their different heritages, cultures, stories, and perspectives giving a more complete picture of South Florida pioneer life and growing up in the Era of Segregation in Historic West Grove. A joint collaboration between the WCCG and the CGNWC produced a short film entitled “Era of Segregation in Historic West Grove.” The film debuted at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, home of the Coconut Grove Negro Women’s Club.
Our Cultural Arts Committee, directed by Sandra Riley, offered wonderful programs and plays.Two short plays written and directed by Sandy Riley, titled “Hamlet Master Class” and “Julius Cesar Master Class,” were presented during our March Membership meeting. The plays were performed by Travis Neff and Natacha Tsakos. A scene from Lysistrata was also performed by our members under Ms. Riley’s direction. A poem by Peggy Hall was read to our members at the April luncheon. To commemorate the clubhouse’s One-Hundredth anniversary, Sandy Riley wrote a play called The Committee, which was performed at the event.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Club was closed in March 2020. Even though the Club was closed, the WCCG continued with events and fundraising.
The Young Artists Gallery (YAG) was held on March 14 -15. The exhibit was only open to a few visitors and students and their families. Seven major scholarships for $15,450 were awarded. Honorable Mention prizes were awarded to 10 students and 15 teachers received honorariums In an effort to provide members with a sense of consistency and connectedness while encouraging online networking, pre-recorded speaker presentations were recorded with the help of Travis Neff. The first presentation was ‘Understanding HIV in Miami Dade.’ A documentary about HIV during covid entitled “The Epidemic in Miami, No, But, For Real, Bro,” was viewed. The second presentation was: Working from Home by Bill Boland, Exercise Physiologist. This informative presentation demonstrated ten movement exercises to help alleviate back, shoulder, or neck pain caused by sitting. The third presentation was by Dr. JoNell Enfantis Parker, who is the Executive Director of THRIVE. She and her team of physicians at the University of Miami discussed Human Trafficking in Miami.
The Conservation committee launched the Plastic Free Initiative website. Articles and videos related to reducing single-use plastics were posted on the website. Because of Covid, events and initiative meetings were held via Zoom. Billie Jean Baldwin participated in the Sustainachella Bye Bye Plastics initiative. Members were invited to view The Story Of Plastic by Oceana Florida. Members participated in a discussion on how to reduce single-use plastics.
During Child Abuse Prevention Month (April) blue pinwheels were planted in the Club’s beautiful grounds to bring awareness to child abuse. Member Irene Monroe joined with PLY-Miami to crochet nests for baby birds and small wildlife for the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station. In addition, over 100 gift bags with Christmas gifts were assembled and distributed to four churches in the Grove.
With the help of Treasurer Pat Vegnani, we paid off the mortgage, and changed the fiscal year to be in sync with the rest of the nation. Wrote and received seven grants to help cover clubhouse improvements. We hired a financial tax consultant. Our yearend balance was 197,898.57.
In the summer of 2021, we were asked to participate in the one hundred and twenty-fifth-anniversary celebrations for the City of Miami. We were part of a full day of events in Coconut Grove that concluded at the clubhouse. We showcased club artists in an art gallery/ happy hour fundraising event.
During the Clubhouse’s One-Hundredth Anniversary event, the first female Mayor of Miami Dade Country, Daniella Levin Cava, presented the club with a beautiful commemorative gift. The gift was a vase with the image of Lynn Fecteau’s sketch of the Clubhouse and a certificate of congratulations. Also, at that event, Commissioner Ken Russell presented the club with a proclamation in our honor.
During the past few years, the club was well known across the General Federation of Woman’s Club. Federation members supported our club by attending many events. Under President Virginia Yermoli, our club reestablished reporting to the GFWC, and the club was recognized with over thirty awards for our work