The members of the Wildwood Civic Club have historically taken a seat behind the scenes. They coordinate, fundraise, and help the needy a mere sidestep away from the public eye.
But 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the club's registration with the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs, and it has finally decided to step into the limelight.
"It's amazing that we've lasted this long," Jackie Thorpe, membership chairwoman, said. "The people we've helped know who we are, but the community at large doesn't seem to know that we encompass so much."
Technically, the Civic Club celebrated its centennial in 2012 - the organization was founded in 1912 - but it wasn't recognized by the federation until 1914. In 1912, the group sponsored the community's first baby parade and Queen Oceania Pageant, events that the club still hosts today.
The club also provides scholarships to grammar and high school students, holds graduation receptions for graduating classes, and provides hot lunches and holiday food baskets for the needy. In general, the organization aims to boost the quality of life of people in the community.
"In a way, we're right out there, but the community as a whole doesn't know the scope," Thorpe said.
"We do this all year round, over and over again," president of the club Pat Cook added.
The club hosts meetings once a month in the only historically recognized building on the island - a huge Victorian home, 3008 Atlantic Ave., with original hardwood floors, woodwork and stained glass windows.
The home was built in 1904 for J. Thompson Baker, a founder and mayor of Wildwood. In 1934, Baker's daughter sold the house to the Civic Club, which has used the site as its clubhouse ever since.
The club boasts about 55 members, ten of whom are honorary. The group is not exclusively for women; however, it just so happens that all of the members are women. Cook said she would love to see some "younger blood" at the meetings.
"(The club) isn't just for you, it's to help someone else," Thorpe said. "We never blow our own horn."
Recently, the group has been working closely with Family Promise, a New Jersey-based organization that aims to help "homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence," and a local Baptist church, where the group helps cook hot meals every Thursday, among its traditional fundraisers and projects.
The projects the group chooses are meant to benefit the Wildwood community directly.
"We try to keep it within the community," Cook said.
Club membership applications can be obtained at the clubhouse or by emailing wildwoodcivicclub
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