Women’s Club of Union town’s ‘best kept secret’ no more?

Photo courtesy of the Women’s Club of Union
WCU members who collected items for parent stress kits were, from left, Glenda Hansen, Susan D’Arecca, Pattie Del Guercio, Adele Damrau and Emma Hehl.

UNION, NJ — The Women’s Club of Union, formerly known as the Women’s Club of Connecticut Farms, is celebrating 95 years of service to the community.

The WCU was recently awarded certificates by the state and national councils in honor of its 95th anniversary. The club is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, a worldwide organization begun in 1890.

The club participates in a number of initiatives and fundraisers, including the township’s annual fall festival, gift-wrapping at Barnes and Noble during the holiday season, and the autism awareness and the National Association of Mental Illness initiatives. Other events include the annual Strawberry Festival and the annual Fashion Show at Mayfair Farms.

The 20 club members volunteer for various projects at the local, state and national levels, and the club recently received the Mayor’s Proclamation in recognition of its support for Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, this year’s state project.

Ellen Tomko, a club member who is actively trying to spread the word about the club, told the Union Leader that members are involved in myriad activities.
“During the month of April, we had displays set up at the main and Vauxhall branches of the local libraries to provide information about child-abuse prevention and about our club,” Tomko said in May 7 email. “We put together parent anti-stress kits at our May meeting for an event to be sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey. The Women’s Club provides a college scholarship to a Union High School senior, and sponsors a Union High School student’s attendance at the Girls’ Career Institute at Douglas College.”

Donations are also made to the Connecticut Farms Food Bank, a women’s shelter in Elizabeth, the Ronald McDonald House and the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. All fundraisers and dues are collected at monthly meetings to support the state project and other endeavors. The state project for 2017 through 2019 will address human trafficking.

According to Tomko, she learned about the club after 10 years as a member of the GFWC Junior Women’s Club of Connecticut Farms.

“I left Juniors at the mandatory age of 40,” Tomko said. “I was unable to join the Women’s Club at that point in time,” Tomko said. “These many years later, I
had no idea the club was still going strong until I heard two members of my book
club discussing the Women’s Club. The lifelong friends I made in Juniors and all
of the wonderful projects and activities we used to do reignited my interest in joining the Women’s Club of Union. Being a member of the GFWC Women’s Club of Union is a great way to meet and make new friends, and a way to get involved with the community.”

According to Tomko, club members are trying to get the word out.
“The Women’s Club of Union is considered the best kept secret in town,” Tomko said. “We’d like to stop being a secret, and make women aware of this great organization. We always welcome new members. Come see what we’re all about and enjoy the company and friendship of a wonderful group of women.”

Susan D’Arecca, also a member of the club, moved to Union from Long Island years ago.

“Being new in town was very lonely,” D’Arecca told the Union Leader in a May 7 email. “A friend of mine suggested she check to see if there was a Junior Women’s Club in town. There was, and I joined. After Juniors, I joined the Woman’s Club and have been an active member ever since.”

Club member Kathryn Zuber told the Union Leader that, after retiring from her career as a school social worker, she was searching for charitable volunteer opportunities within the community and beyond.

“I wanted to meet like-minded women who were interested in helping others,” Zuber told the Union Leader in a May 7 email. “I was fortunate to meet a Union Women’s Club member who invited me to attend a meeting. I have been very pleased with what we have accomplished throughout Union County. One of the highlights for me was distributing baby items to the Raphael House in Elizabeth,” she said, referring to a homeless shelter that serves young mothers and their babies. “In addition, recent state projects of the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs have included autism and NAMI, which both hold great interest for me because of my work with autistic and developmentally disabled children and young adults.”

Tomko said that the club looks forward to welcoming new members.
“The ladies are all very excited about this,” she said. “We would love to have an influx of new members.”

Club meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month at 12:15 p.m. in the Meeting Room at Hickory Manor, 21-40 Redspire Drive, Union. For additional information about the Women’s Club of Union, contact Ellen Tomko at ellenktomko@gmail.com or Susan D’Arecca at sdarecc@aol.com.

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