From each other’s homes to school auditoriums to their own ‘clubhouse’ (a historic double-house on Talbot Lane), the Talbot County Women’s Club is no stranger to having to change meeting locations to accommodate membership numbers. But although settings may have changed, commitment to their goals to support worthwhile local causes through service projects have not.
Established in 1930 by a small group of Easton women, the non-profit organization is guided by the Club’s objectives: community service, a lifetime of learning, and long-lasting friendship. Board member, BettyJo Constantino, explains, “People do better in a community setting, and that’s why our club exists.”
In its 90 years history, the Club has supported numerous programs in Talbot County, including Easton Volunteer Fire Department, Shore Regional Cancer Center, and Talbot County Social Services, to name a few. They have provided baskets for the holidays and for Easter for the Department of Aging. They also took part in knitting and crocheting approximately 80 red hats for the Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign for the American Heart Association.
This past year, the Club donated 50 fully stocked backpacks to those in need from Easton Middle School. “We connected with the school staff, the teachers, and the principal and found out how great the need was,” says Constantino. “We were able to fill the backpacks with 30 pounds of material. There were colored pencils, regular pencils, pens, spiral notebooks, loose-leaf paper, three-ring binders, erasers, etc.” The involvement of local businesses is critical to their success. “Staples was phenomenal; both donating items and lowering their prices,” she added.
Local businesses are also involved in the Club’s latest “Chopped Talbot” fundraiser, which features six local restaurants competing for the title of Champion, as voted on by attendees. For a $60 ticket price (which includes tip), guests are served a three-course dinner: entree, appetizer, and dessert. Part of the ticket sale proceeds benefits the Club and its mission. At the end of the competition, around April, a winner will be declared.
So far, Osteria Alfredo, Marker Five, and Eat Sprout have participated. Coming up will be Bistro St. Michaels on January 13, 14, 17, and 18th; Wylder Restaurant & Hotel on February 22, 23, 29th, and March 1st; and T at the General Store on March 11, 12, 18, and 19th.
Lately, the Club is focusing on building its membership. When current members noticed that meeting hours were a detriment to working women, they restructured to allow women to find the time that best suited their schedule. “We’re trying to capture and reach out to a different audience, not just retirees, says Constantino. “So, we have our lunchtime meeting at noon on the second Tuesday of the month, and we also have an evening meeting at 6:30pm. The evening meeting is shorter, less formal. Just hors d’oeuvres and a glass of wine!”
These meetings are not just social events, they are also meant to be educational. Guest speakers are invited to inspire and inform members about local and national current events. Recent guests included Jayme Dingler from Talbot Interfaith Shelter, Mary Wilson, a former White House staffer, and Bill Peak, who discussed how to write a memoir.
The Club is always searching for speakers, says Constantino. “We want something that would be interesting, intriguing, and add value to our members. Somethings health-related, something cultural related, something historical. I also would love to have separate special events, outside of our monthly meetings. A featured speaker who knows a lot about what’s happening in this area, for instance.”
No mention of the Talbot County Women’s Club would be complete without a peek into their meeting space. Dating back to the 1600s, the frame home eventually ended up in the hands of James Price in 1795. The Prices added a brick segment and moved into the newer section, never connecting the two dwellings. It passed on through generations until 1946 when for $4,000, the Club purchased the property. But the purchase came with a legend that was resurrected. Supposedly, James Price had a neighbor who, unbeknownst to the Prices, buried gold and treasures under the brick cellar floor as it was being built.
After the Club signed the deed, trespassers broke into the cellar and dug for gold. Whether something was found or not is unknown; however, the entire cellar floor had to be redone. This was only one of the many expenses the home needed to make it fit for occupancy. Through the efforts of many benefactors, donations, and sheer will, 18 Talbot Lane is the wonderful and quirky place it is today. It is worth a visit.
Meetings are posted on the Talbot County Women’s Club website, as is additional information about becoming a member. Guests are always welcome.