What began as a small arts and crafts social group 19 years ago has become a community networking group like no other.
Members of the Foothills Women's Club of Ahwatukee each have a similar story to tell about how they first got involved in the group. They were new to the area, a neighbor asked them to come out and suddenly they found a place with 100 like-minded women who were a blast to be around.
"I'm fairly new to the Foothills," said Kim Knight, a member of the group. "I moved here about five years ago. I work alone and my husband is a traveling salesman and my children are grown. I thought I'd never meet women ever again because I didn't have any outlets to meet them. A neighbor of mine who serves in the group said, ‘You have to come to this women's club.' And I said, ‘No, not a women's club.' She said, ‘It's not that kind of women's club.'"
Foothills Women's Club meets once a month, September through May. There's no agenda for the meetings but the group does have a program that gives the women a chance to try something new and get to know more people each month. In the past they've had a murder mystery party, a casino night, a Mardi Gras party, a belly-dancing lesson and even a fashion show.
"It's an outlet for me," said Donna Leeds, who has been a part of the organization for less than a year but is already president of the club. "I'm a Realtor and it gets me away from real estate and I just go to a whole different place. I'm just Donna. There's everyone I know and it's just fun."
The leadership of the club is all volunteer positions. The board, once elected, plans the activities for the year and makes sure there are hostesses assigned to each event to help decorate, bring food and greet new members.
Each meeting begins with socializing. There's usually food and a cash bar as well as raffle items and door prizes. When the meeting officially begins there are some announcements and a chance for members to let the women know what's going on in the community. Then it's on to the activity and by 9 p.m. when the meeting ends some women still go out together to keep the fun going. Knight described it as a structured women's night out.
Though the group focuses on having fun they also choose a nonprofit to aid throughout the year. This year the group will listen to presentations from four local charities and vote for the one they'd like to support as part of the club. Leeds hopes those short presentations will spark an interest in the women if they want to volunteer outside of the group.
"It's just really refreshing," said Maria Brandenburg, vice president. "The fact that we don't have an agenda and it's not another meeting I'm sure we all go to. It's nice to unwind at the end of that second Wednesday of the month and just show up and hang out with the girlfriends. There's always laughter and smiles. No matter what is going on at work or at home you can come here knowing it's all at the door. Everybody here is in business. We all have a professional background but we're like minded that even though business is important the social aspect is just as important. It's nice to work with like-minded people who want to give back to the community, but have fun while you're doing it."
They do ask for $50 to join the club, which goes toward food and drink for the Christmas party and other events throughout the year. The first meeting of the year will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the Foothills Golf Club, 2201 E. Clubhouse Drive. For more information on the group, visit foothillswomensclub.org.
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