By JAYNE THURBER-SMITH
The members of the Chesapeake Christian Women’s Club celebrated its 40th anniversary August 28th at Great Bridge Baptist Church. Many ladies brought in a covered dish for the luncheon to enjoy doing what their club is all about: sharing.
“In this group of ladies you’ll find some of the best-hearted people God ever made,” CCWC’s president Judith Todd said. “They are a blessing to me.”
The club was organized and began meeting back in 1973, when charter member Bertha McClain saw her dream become a reality. She had wanted local ladies of faith to have a place to go on a regular basis and that as a group they could reach out to their community with love and prayerful support. Inez Hassell Walker shared Bertha’s dream and became the first president of CCWC.
The ladies meet monthly on the fourth Wednesday at 11:30 am. Although they gather at Great Bridge Baptist Church, all faiths are welcomed.
“This club is unique in that we have approximately ten different denominations represented,” said Todd. “The hugs and smiles of caring women, no matter what their circumstances or church affiliation, if any, are the only ‘dues’ necessary to be considered a member. Our attendees now include second and third generations of our founding women’s families.”
In the earlier days, getting together as a group meant so much to the members that, if they couldn’t find transportation, some rode their bicycles. For four decades, these ladies have volunteered countless hours to keep the spirit of the CCWC alive. They share each other’s burdens and minister to one another in whatever way possible
“Our members face many challenges,” Todd commented. “Some are enduring chemotherapy and radiation treatments, while some are widows of veterans, or caring for ill spouses. Some have grandchildren in the military both here and overseas, and others struggle to get out to our club meetings traveling from nursing homes or assisted living facilities.”
Pat Knowles served as president of CCWC from 2007 to 2012. Now a breast cancer survivor, she has benefitted greatly from the support of her fellow members.
“They got me through it.” she said softly, gesturing around the quickly-filling room as the members got situated to commence the anniversary celebrations.
When asked if attending and assisting meetings the fourth Wednesday of every month ever felt like a chore to her, her face lit up as she shook her head.
“As soon as we’ve ended one meeting I’m looking forward to the next month’s meeting,” Knowles insisted. “We pray for each other over the weeks in between. It just warms my heart when I think of all this club does for each other and for those outside of the club…” her voice caught with emotion.
As she glanced around at the various attendees, it was noted that there were a few spouses showing up in honor of the anniversary.
“The men are always invited to come along to our regular meetings too, but they usually don’t,” she laughed. “They know it’s kind of a hen-fest!”
One of the men who showed up to enjoy the ladies’ delightful company and potluck lunch was Mayor Alan Krasnoff, accompanied by his wife Phyllis.
“Mayor Krasnoff was one of CCWC’s speakers about three years ago,” remembered Todd. “One day he arrived unexpectedly with WAVY TV 10’s reporter Andy Fox. The podium was happily relinquished to our new arrivals. With Andy by his side, he relayed to the ladies, ‘I told Andy he just had to meet this special group of women who truly have a heart for God.’”
Approximately 125 were in attendance for the celebration, including Senator John Cosgrove, city council members Debbie Ritter and Suzy Kelly and Great Bridge Baptist Church Pastor Emeritus Charles Moseley. After first offering to pass the microphone for Mayor Krasnoff to sing, Senator Cosgrove got the party started with a beautiful and worshipful rendition of “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” followed by a stirring arrangement of “God Bless America.”
Mayor Krasnoff was next to take the podium, and he graciously recognized Todd, Knowles and Pastor Moseley for being such an integral and important part of the community, and congratulated the Club on its longevity and excellence. He concluded with a prayer of thanks over the lunch, followed by food and fellowship.
Not only do the ladies enjoy each other on a monthly basis, they also enjoy reaching out to their community. CCWC’s projects throughout the year include contributions to various institutions including children’s DVD’s, socks and batteries to St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, and canned/packaged goods to Kingdom Life Ministry’s food pantry. Offerings are taken for Chesapeake Care-Free Clinic, the Radio Bible Class, Gideons International, Samaritan’s Purse, A Place for New Beginnings and Union Mission at Thanksgiving.
“We take up offerings at each meeting,” said Todd. “All charitable donations are given from these funds. We also give to different churches in the area on a monthly basis. We don’t let the balance of the funds received increase much over a $100 before we are sending some of it to an organization that could use the money.”
Todd and Knowles would like to extend a warm invitation to anyone in the area to join them for their meetings.
“We have a covered dish luncheon every quarter,” Todd commented. “December is our next potluck. We also bring a small gift to exchange with each other.”
Don’t forget to bring your hugs and smiles to exchange also.
The Christian Women’s Club next meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 23. The guest speaker will be Capt. Mary Meredith, The Salvation Army of Hampton Roads’ newest Area Commander. November’s speaker will be the First Lady of Chesapeake, Phyllis Krasnoff. Tea and coffee are provided; please bring a bagged lunch. If you have any questions, please call 482-2026.