Hesston starting women’s club with deep historical roots

Provided photo

Previously a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hesston Women’s Civic Club officers for its rebirth, pictured from left, are president Janelle Hahn, treasurer Marcalyn Yutzy, vice president Amanda Claerhout and secretary Jackie Nelson.


By Blake Spurney

Harvey County Now Staff

HESSTON—After a three-year hiatus, the Hesston Women’s Civic Club is getting a reboot from four women who are looking for a way to engage others in the community while looking for ways to serve their community.

Janelle Hahn said she was named president during the first planning meeting because she was looking for ways to connect with others after the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she found herself missing the club, which she had joined in its final year. She said the old club’s leadership saw no option but to disband during the shutdown in early 2020 because attendance already was in decline and the club was having difficulty finding women interested in serving as officers.

Hahn said the original incarnation of the club, which was started by Thelma Hinshaw in 1937, participated in numerous projects from the outset. Its first big cause was creating Hesston Public Library, which opened in 1938. Other projects included a contest to design an official city flag in 1970, establishing story time for preschoolers at the library and sponsoring the Girl Scouts.

“Looking back through the club’s records, which are housed in the library’s archives, we can see that the club engaged in quite a wide variety of projects and programs during those 83 years,” she said.

Hahn said she was hopeful that other women would value the merit of fellowship and supporting community causes like herself and the other officers: Marcalyn Yutzy, Amanda Claerhourt and Jackie Nelson. The club is holding its first official meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the library. It will continue meeting at the same time on the third Tuesday of the month, except in June, July and December. She said all local women were invited to attend. One big change from when the club was first established is that membership dues will be $50 instead of 50 cents.

Hahn said the new club officers would be providing snacks and a couple of table games at the first meeting. She said the club was planning a volunteer project for the spring and possibly creating some banners with of the city flag to hang downtown.

“The opportunity for community connection was one of the major reasons I was interested in restarting the club,” she said. “Much like Thelma Hinshaw 85 years ago, I sensed a need.”

Hahn said she didn’t know what to expect as far as how many people might want to join the club.

“It’s hard to really get a feel for how many people will join something until you have something for them to join,” she said. “Fortunately, with the library providing meeting space and volunteers bringing snacks, our overhead is low enough that we can get started with whatever number we have and work on growing from there, much like they did back in 1937.”

Hahn noted that she and the other officers all had full-time jobs, so they might not have the time to take on a project as big as starting a library, but she said she had no doubt that new opportunities would constantly be presenting themselves. She said she felt the club would continue to evolve to meet the needs of its members and the community.

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