Does your local non-profit organization need funds for a planned initiative? If so, and you can submit your application and annual report by Oct. 31, the Westport Woman’s Club may be able to help.
For 108 years, “Help where needed,” has been the goal of the WWC’s entrepreneurial fund-raising, “here and near,” grant-giving, scholarships and public-private partnerships. However, although total cumulative WWC grants since 1907--including cash, goods, services (providing Westport's first sidewalks and health services; collaborating with the Town/E.T. Bedford to develop pre-municipal services) and even riparian rights (to the Town of Westport, for the 2-acre landfill parking lots on Imperial Ave., in exchange for 100 parking spaces in perpetuity)—are in the many millions of dollars, each year’s local need among non-profits always exceeds the WWC’s annual response capacity. Click here: Application.
For this reason, in 2015, the WWC is expanding its basic grant application options to 3 categories: 1) cash, 2) one 4-hour use per year of the WWC’s newly-renovated Bedford Hall for a fundraiser and 3) volunteer/fundraising advisory services. Qualified non-profit applicants are encouraged to visit the Community Services section of the WWC website—www.westportwomansclub.org-- for background information and links to an application for the basic grant. Applications for Ruegg Grants and scholarships are handled separately in early 2016. Food Closet applicants are administered through Westport Human Services.
The newest grant option, a free use of Bedford Hall, is possible because the WWC is one of just two women’s clubs in Connecticut that owns its Clubhouse (the other is Greenwich). The WWC Clubhouse actually comprises two annexed buildings: the site’s original 1881 Queen Anne-style Sidney Watts house and the 1866 “Bedford Hall”, formerly a Sunday School meeting hall at the Saugatuck Church’s original site, but purchased, moved and annexed in September, 1951. Following recent improvements to the Hall--including a new coffered ceiling with recessed LED lighting, new stage lights, new wireless ceiling projector, A-V system and screen wall, new picture rail moldings and hanging system and cosmetic improvements to the kitchen--use of the historic 44 Imperial Avenue property for rentals, meetings, social events, fundraisers, public-private partnerships and grants for a one-time use to non-profits continues to grow.
“Bedford Hall” is named for the WWC’s great early benefactors, E.T. Bedford, who gave the WWC its first home, rent-free, on the second floor of the original Y, and his son, Frederick T. Bedford. When the Y needed its second floor back to accommodate post-World War II Baby Boom growth, Frederick purchased 44 Imperial Ave. for the WWC and later split the cost to acquire, move and annex the hall. Today, thanks to a debt-free balance sheet and a conservatively-managed endowment, the WWC is able to maintain and operate its landmark antique structures without additional fundraising. As a result, all proceeds of WWC fundraising events are returned each year to the greater Westport community. In October, the WWC added a Clothing & Accessories Tag Sale to its regular on-site fundraising calendar, which already includes Clubhouse/Bedford Hall Rentals, Yankee Doodle Fair, Curio Cottage, Nutcracker Tea, Art Show, managing the Town’s Food Closet and hosting tenant CT Braille.
To learn more about the Westport Woman’s Club, to download a grant application (due Oct. 31, 2015) or to inquire about membership, visit www.westportwomansclub.org, call 203.227.4240 or visit 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT 06880 on weekdays. Prospective grant applicants also may contact Community Services Co-Directors Mary Gladden and Carol Mata through the Club Office (203.227.4240).
Prospective members (civic-minded women age 18 or older) may contact Membership Director Susan Hricik. Support of WWC fundraisers—the group’s core mission--is expected of members, and involvement in the group’s myriad social activities is encouraged, but payment of $90 annual dues is all that is required.