Congratulations and hats off to the GFWC Athena Club of Gardner for its 90 years of service to the Gardner and Edgerton communities.
The GFWC Athena Club of Gardner was founded, on a cold December day in 1922 by Mrs. Maurice Harrington and Miss Ward (later Mrs. Carl Nys) with the purpose of organizing a women’s study club for women in the community to enrich their lives on a monthly basis. The club met in Mrs. Harrington’s home or Harrington Hall, as it was also known. The “Hall” was located on Main St. just west of the Rankin apartments.
The Athena Club began with only 11 members. They became a part of the Greater Federation of Women’s clubs in 1923 following GFWC guidelines for projects and programs.
Today, 90 years strong, the GFWC Athena club still follows and participates in GFWC activities. Now known internationally, GFWC has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. We give goods, services, and time in volunteering to many, many various activities now and in years past.
The Athena Club has a rich history in Johnson County. It was one of the first active service clubs with an emphasis on children, education, music and the arts.
In 1923 the Athena Club sponsored a free art exhibit for children and adults. Club members purchased and planted 35 elm trees on the school grounds in 1924 to make it more beautiful. Athena members helped to start the cemetery board in 1933 and planted the maple trees along the north side of the cemetery.
Club members organized a PTA in 1947 that had 60 members; with officers all from the Athena Club. The PTA began the hot lunch program at the elementary school. The GFWC Athena Club was instrumental in getting kindergarten into our school system, one of the first in the state. The very first band uniforms were purchased by the Athena Club as well.
1960 was a big year for the Athena Club as it joined alongside the Gardner Grange and the study club to place a library in Gardner. This was one of the very first libraries in Johnson County, Kan. Club members were adamant that the library be free to all people.
It was also in this year that adult art classes were offered in Gardner and from that program was the employment of a full time art teacher at the Gardner High school.
Art is still a high priority to the GFWC Athena club members. They sponsor local students to participate in the GFWC Second District Art contest each spring.
The Athena Club is very proud of the fact that local high school students have won best of show at not only Second District but at the State contest. They also encourage the elementary students in art with a conservation poster contest for the Second District of GFWC. This would consist of schools from Paola, Olathe, Lawrence, Baldwin as well as Gardner-Edgerton. This year the overall grand prize winner of the poster contest was Audrey Sineath of Moonlight Elementary.
The GFWC Athena club currently has 20 members, with two of those members celebrating 50 years of service. We congratulate both Mrs. Minnie Ashmore, and Mrs. Flo Biehl on their many years of service. We celebrate our many years of being a part of the community and hope that you wish us well for many more years to come.