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Written by Linda Palacios   
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 05:38

110209FEATURE.jpg Join the Club
Grouping together for a change

Two heads are better than one, and a whole bunch makes for fun, memorable times.
From improving Cincinnati's educational opportunities to raising millions to create new parks, two local clubs bring women together to make tremendous things happen around the Tri-State.

Every woman adds "club" to her vocabulary at a young age. As she goes through life, everything from club sandwiches to country clubs to golf clubs seek their way into the woman's knowledge. But "clubs" can become much more of an integral part to the woman. She can band together with like-minded people and make a difference, and that is exactly what two local women's clubs do.

 

Women's Committee of Cincinnati Riverfront Park (CRP)

 

When local residents Helen Heekin and Debbie Oliver became trustees on the Cincinnati Parks Foundation Board, they took a special interest in fundraising to support what is "one of the top urban park systems in the country," Oliver says. Their brainstorming efforts in January 2007 led them to New York City. The Central Park Conservancy holds an annual Hats off Luncheon to benefit Central Park, and women have the chance to enjoy the outdoors and don a hat, which many wear at only a few select occasions. Heekin and Oliver realized that a Hats off Luncheon could do the same for Cincinnati parks — one park in particular.

 

As women took charge of caring for Central Park by forming a Women's Committee, Heekin and Oliver decided that they too would form a women's club to fund the creation of Cincinnati Riverfront Park, a 45-acre park between Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium. That women's club started and continues as the Women's Committee of CRP, and Heekin and Oliver serve as co-chairmen.

 

Heekin and Oliver's original goal was to recruit 100 women for the committee by inviting them through hand-written letters to the Hats off Luncheon and raise $100,000, but the women surpassed their goal. "To our surprise and delight, over 450 women signed up, and we raised close to $450,000 that first year," Oliver says.

 

Beyond the Hats off Luncheon, the women have expanded their efforts with two to three other events each year, Heekin says. The women have taken trips to Indianapolis and Louisville and hope to make it to New York City in the future. Other local events have included a Swedish Christmas at Krohn's Conservatory and hat and fashion shows at Saks Fifth Avenue.

 

Through their fundraising efforts, the Women's Committee of CRP played a major role in Cincinnati Riverfront Park's "growing forward," Oliver says, with the park's groundbreaking and continued progress. The first phase of the park is expected to be completed in March 2011, with the entire project to be completed in 2019. "Riverfront Park is the most important thing happening to the city. It will stimulate dollars and raise attention for Cincinnati nationally and internationally," Heekin says.

 

For more information about the Women's Committee of CRP or to find out more about joining the cause, visit the committee online. Also available on the Web site is information regarding the development and plans for the Cincinnati Riverfront Park. To learn more, contact Gretchen Hooker, the committee's director of development, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

110209FEATURE2.jpgWoman's City Club of Greater Cincinnati

 

Way back in 1915, the city began to take part in the daily responsibilities of the women. To keep the city in check, Greater Cincinnati women formed a group called the Woman's City Club of Greater Cincinnati. "The women created a kind of parallel organization to City Council that had the same committees, same structure and provided oversight to make sure that what was done by the city was done well," says Linda Wihl, office manager and only paid employee for six and a half years.

 

At the time, women didn't have the right to vote, and the Civil Rights Movement still was a ways from its popular peak in the 1960s. Despite these governmental limitations as well as integration stereotypes, Woman's City Club brought together all women, no matter race or creed.

 

Now, almost 100 years later, the Woman's City Club continues to serve with "that same sense of accountability and civic mindedness and building civic awareness," Wihl says. The Woman's City Club oversees much of the city's responsibilities, including education. In fact, the Woman's City Club met in a 2005 forum to pool local school officials about to determine how to use monetary donations in a responsible manner.

 

Within a matter of months, the members of the school board had agreed to put a greater focus on environmentally friendly schools. And within a year, the board was committed to constructing buildings to meet certification standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Within a year after that, the whole state adopted a policy that promotes eco-friendly buildings.

 

Another impact from Woman's City Club comes in the shape of knowledge. The club members work with Winton Hills and Rothenberg Academies kindergarteners to develop the kids' reading skills, and 100 percent of the kids who have gone through the tutoring program have been able to read when they advanced in class level. The kids always are proud to set that example for other students. Beyond education, Woman's City Club members devote time to violence prevention, a healthy environment and community building.

 

For more information about the club, visit online at WomansCityClub.org or contact President Carole Cutter-Hawkins at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text9101 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

PHOTO CREDITS

Top Photo

Photographer: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Models: Helen Heekin and Debbie Oliver
Location: The McAlpin

Bottom Photo

Photo courtesy of the Woman's City Club of Greater Cincinnati

Model: Carol Pitzer

Location: Rothenberg Preparatory School


Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>


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