HISTORY OF NAPLES JUNIOR WOMAN’S CLUB
Naples Junior Woman’s Club started in 1952. Mary Watkins, founder of the Naples Beach Club, was the first President. The organization started off on the right foot and made a big impact in Naples history. Juniors started the first thirftshop in Naples called Four Courners (at the corner of 9th and 5th) and built the first children’s playground in Naples located in Cambier Park. The Club also put on and underwrote the first play in Naples by building the play’s sets in Mary Watkin’s garage and put on at the only high school in town (on Third Street) which was the beginning of Naples Players.
GENERAL FEDERATION OF WOMAN’S CLUBS
The Naples Junior Woman’s Club is part of the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs, the largest organization of woman’s clubs in the world.
The GFWC has been credited with establishing 75% of America’s public libraries. GFWC was also credited with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. In 1949, General Marshall personally attended GFWC convention to say that the Marshall Plan would never have been passed had it not been for the support of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
HISTORY OF THE GENERAL FEDERATION OF WOMAN’S CLUBS
Mrs. Jane Cunningham Croly, a newspaperwoman with the New York World, writing under the name “Jennie June,” wanted to attend a banquet to honor Charles Dickens. Mrs. Croly was told she could not attend because she was a woman. Angered, she decided to found a club for women only to “manage its own affairs … represent the active interests of women, and create a bond of friendship between them.”
On April 24, 1890, the first president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs addressed the delegates by saying, “We look for unity, but unity in diversity; we hope that you will enrich us by your varied experience, and let us pledge ourselves to work for a common cause, the cause of united womanhood throughout the world.” During the organizations 97-year history, the uniqueness of the advocacy of individual club interests rather than a common organization emphasis remains. Epitomized by its motto, “Unity in diversity,” the purpose of the GFWC is simply to unite women’s clubs to enhance community service efforts by volunteers throughout the world. Chartered by the United States Congress and signed by President William McKinley in 1901, the primary interest of this infant organization was in the area of education—education for its members, education for its communities, education throughout the country.
FLORIDA FEDERATION OF WOMAN’S CLUBS
Naples Juniors is also part of the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs, as state division of the GFWC. As federation members, we attend conventions twice a year where we meet with clubs from all over Florida to share ideas for every aspect of club activities, and submit reports on our own activities.
NAPLES WOMAN’S CLUB
Naples Juniors are also affiliated with Naples Woman’s Club. They generously allow us to use their clubhouse for meetings and partner with us on projects throughout the year. They started the first library in Collier County and began the visiting nurses program.
***Bylaws available upon request.