I’ve always been a volunteer . . .

Vicki Bechet | Contributor

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“I’ve always been a volunteer,” said long-time GFWC (General Federation of Women’s Clubs) member Vicki Bechet. “Community service is in my DNA. I’m a 4th-generation club woman. My paternal great-grandmother was a member of a charter club of the GFWC in Springfield, Massachusetts, joining in 1916. My grandmother, mother, and I have carried on the tradition of giving back to the communities we live in through GFWC club work.”

Nearly 100,000 members strong, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs is united in its dedication to volunteer community service. While diverse in ages, interests, and experiences, all clubwomen are united by a desire to create positive change in their communities. Its mission statement: The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.

Springfield (Massachusetts) Woman’s Club, early 1900’s

GFWC clubs and clubwomen are the fabric that binds not only the Federation but the communities in which they live and work. By “Living the Volunteer Spirit”, GFWC clubwomen transform lives each day, not simply with monetary donations, but with hands-on tangible projects that provide an immediate impact. With a grassroots approach that often thinks locally but impacts globally, GFWC, its clubs, and members remain committed to serving as a force for global good, as it has done since its formation 126 years ago.

With members in affiliated clubs in every state, the District of Columbia, and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members work in their communities to support the arts, preserve natural resources, advance education, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding. The Federation’s Signature Projects are Domestic Violence Awareness & Prevention and Advocates for Children.

“Community service is in my DNA.”

Bechet’s current position as the GFWC of TN 2nd Vice President emphasizes Membership, with a focus on Recruitment and Retention. She and her fellow TN Board of Directors have made it a goal to start 10 new clubs in the state during the next two years. Memphis was at the top of the list.

The first meeting to explore forming a new Memphis club will be Tuesday evening, January 31st at 6:00 pm in the Hooks Library. Members of the GFWC of TN will be in attendance to provide information about the Federation. Participants will also work together on a community service project during the event. “We are looking forward to telling everyone about our many projects and accomplishments.” Our latest statewide success was the construction of a Christmas Tree built of 10,300 books donated by clubwomen and residents throughout the state. It was installed in the Governor’s Residence in Nashville and viewed by countless citizens throughout the holiday season. The tree has been accepted by the Guinness World Book of Records as the largest tree made solely of books. The books will be distributed throughout the state. All new books will be given to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of the GFWC’s Corporate Partners. The remainder of the books will be given to the First Lady’s Literacy Program – “Read 20” https://www.tn.gov/firstlady/topic/about-read20, and to libraries in need.

Vicki Bechet

Vicki Bechet

General Federation of Women's Clubs

GFWC of TN 2nd Vice President, Membership

Pictured left to right: Lana Robinson, Nashville, GFWC of TN PR/Communications; Kendra Walker-Patty from Knoxville, chairperson of the tree project; First Lady of Tennessee Crissy Haslam; and Linda Hershey, Chattanooga, GFWC of TN President.

Further information about the GFWC can be obtained by visiting their website: www.gfwc.org.

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