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Women’s Club birthday brings out big plans

By Staff | Jan 16, 2019

Beverly Milligan passed out champagne for a birthday toast to the Women’s Club. JESSE MEADOWS

The Women’s Club celebrated 55 years in their current location on Sterling Avenue last Friday, and they announced ambitious plans for the future.

The night kicked off their Capital Improvements Project, a plan in three phases to completely renovate the old schoolhouse and the grounds, adding amenities like a butterfly garden, an event lawn, and a raised outdoor deck.

The building itself will be the first to be renovated.

Member Debbie Voorhees told the crowd that they hope to build a veranda on the side of the building that will open onto a garden.

She also shared an exciting recent discovery.

Diane Phillips, a seasonal resident on Fort Myers Beach, is a member of a local women’s club at home in Ohio, and came to the event to learn more about joining the club here. JESSE MEADOWS

“I poked my head up in the drop ceiling the other day, and there’s a cathedral ceiling up in there that’s already done. We just have to take those tiles out and it’s already dry-walled, it’s beautiful,” she said.

A bookcase on the back wall is hiding the original stage from when the building served as a schoolhouse more than 50 years ago.

“We plan on opening that back up so we can have music and theater and do different programs for the community,” Voorhees said.

Two works of art were unveiled – a painting of their vision for the clubhouse by member Joanne Shamp, and a handmade model of a 1940’s teacher’s desk built by Michael Reilly.

“In the next few weeks we are going to be launching a greater campaign. I’ve already been talking with a couple of large donors and a couple of organizations, and we hope to accomplish our goal in the next 12-24 months,” Voorhees said during the presentation.

Joanne Shamp had 200 prints of her vision available for sale, with all proceeds going to the Women’s Club.  JESSE MEADOWS

Earlier that day, the club voted to pursue historic recognition status for their building.

“Our community kids are going to have a memory of this place when they grow up and take over for us. So I look forward to that,” said president Beverly Milligan.

Roseanna Reilly unveils the handmade replica of a 1940’s desk her husband built for the club.  JESSE MEADOWS