Grafton club awards $20,000 in scholarships Women's Community Club celebrates 100 years with gala

The Women’s Community Club of Grafton recently awarded $20,000 in scholarships to seven students from Grafton, as the club gets ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary with a fund-raising gala.

In just over 50 years, the club has given out 225 scholarships to 127 Grafton students totaling $250,000, an accomplishment for a town of 600.

Awards are based on scholastic achievement, financial need, community involvement and extra curricular activities/work commitments at school. This year the Club also launched a Centennial Sponsorship initiative, to which the Windham Foundation contributed a leadership gift of $10,000. Other sponsors quickly followed bringing the Centennial Sponsorship effort to $25,000.

The 2018 winners all live in Grafton and attended local schools:

William Culver attended Leland and Gray High School and is a senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute studying Physics/Computer Sciences;

Adam Culver attended Leland and Gray High School and is a freshman at University of Hartford (or Springfield College) studying Math Secondary Education;

Theo Pilette went to Bellows Falls High School and will be a freshman at Norwich University studying Criminal Justice;

Kyle Record attended Bellows Falls High School and is a senior at Keene State College studying Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences;

Keltsey Rushton attended Leland and Gray High School and is a junior at University of Vermont studying Animal Science;

Duane Snide attended Bellows Falls High School and is a sophomore at University of Vermont studying Mechanical Engineering;

Kassidy Wyman attended Leland and Gray High School and will be a freshman at Southern Vermont College or Vermont Technical College studying Radiology.

Several  previous scholarship winners have created  businesses in Grafton, including Robbie Sprague of Sprague’s Hoof Trimming; John Hallock of JMW Contracting and Orson Stevens of Orson Stevens Automotive.

Discovering history, celebrating 100 years

On Saturday, Aug. 18, the Women’s Community Club of Grafton will celebrate 100 years of community, philanthropy and higher education at a Centennial Gala. Judy Rowley, the club’s historian, eager to present a little history about the Club for her remarks at the Gala, was puzzled that the Grafton Historical Society didn’t have any records or old photos on the club.

After hours and days of searching throughout the entire Grafton Historical Museum and insisting that “something” must exist, she and Grafton Historical Society administrator Maureen Fisher Fletcher discovered a box that apparently had never been opened. The historical society was organized in 1962, so it could be a lost cause, but they hit pay dirt. The original minutes from 1918-1928 were found in the box. Not only that, but inside was the 1938 will of Susan Daniels, in which she left money to the club to focus on education and other beautification and maintenance projects, among other historical gems.

Looking back over the years, through wars, the Depression, recessions and prosperity, the women of the WCC have helped make Grafton a better place to live. As described in the minutes of Feb. 8, 1918, it all started on that date when 75 women gathered in the Baptist Vestry to organize the Ladies Knitting Club, which raised money, knitted clothing and gave aid and support to American soldiers during World War I. The idea became the “seed” for the Women’s Community Club of today.

After the war, and with a name change, the club turned its attention to efforts within the community. The scholarship program was launched thanks to Susan Daniels’ will. She was also the club’s first lifetime member. The gift was earmarked to promote higher education, maintain the Village Park, and tune the pianos in the Town Hall, Chapel, and Village School. Barbara Fisher Rogers received the first scholarship of $100 in 1966-67.

The Aug. 18 Centennial Gala  is sold out, but those eager to attend can put their name on a waiting list by writing to wccgala@gmail.com. The Gala will feature a half-hour concert with musicians from Boston’s Grammy-nominated orchestra A Far Cry, along with an Arts and Crafts Benefit Auction to highlight the artists and arts tradition in Grafton.

The Gala will be a memorable evening of music, food, drinks and both a live and silent auction with two Grafton residents as auctioneers.

The auction features historic and one-of-kind hand made items, along with paintings by Eric Aho and Charlie Hunter, a chair with woven necktie seat by Bea Fisher of Grafton, a hand-painted pitcher by Jennie Blue, a fish platter created by Laura Zindel, a custom painting of your furniture by Lucia Corwin, along with many other unique pieces.

Noted chair maker Conrad Delia has donated a Windsor rocking chair valued at $1,000 that will be raffled off. Raffle tickets are $10 each and can be purchased in advance at Gallery North Star or by writing to wccgala@gmail.com or at the gala. You don’t have to attend the gala to be eligible to win.

Money raised through this event will fund scholarships given to local students pursuing post-secondary education. Absentee bids can be placed by contacting wccgala@gmail.com. More details and photos and description of auction items can be found by clicking here. Or contact wccgala@gmail.com.

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