Avon Club Celebrates 75th Year of Community Service
Apr 30, 2019 10:17AM
By Hilary Daninhirsch
Avon Club members attending one of their social events, Second Chance Prom.
It all started in 1944 when a few women from the Avonworth community wanted to assist the World War II efforts by knitting sweaters and communicating with servicemen. After the war, when most similar ladies’ civic clubs disbanded, the Avon Club continued to thrive, transforming itself into a social service, community-oriented organization.
“In 1944, women’s clubs were ubiquitous; every borough had one, and over the years, they’ve folded, so it is really unique that we’re still around and still such a big part of the community. That is what makes our community so special,” said current Avon Club president Kelly Kujawinski.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the Avon Club is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee, or 75th anniversary.
The Avon Club is open to women over the age of 18 who live or work in the communities of Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Emsworth, Kilbuck Township, and Ohio Township. Though the club has evolved over the past 75 years, Kujawinski said that there are four parts to its mission: to support education, preservation, recreation, and social responsibility.
“The main thing we do is to raise funds to help the community,” she said.
The Avon Club’s main fundraiser is the popular biannual Ben Avon Holiday House Tour, which features different homes decked out for the holidays. This year, the event is scheduled for Dec. 7. On opposite years, the club holds a variety of other fundraisers, including galas and a farm-to-table event in the summer.
The Avon Club makes an annual disbursement each spring to community members who make a grant request. Applicants can make requests in January and February via an online application, and disbursements are awarded in spring.
Last year alone, the Avon Club granted $20,000 to 24 area organizations. To date, the club has donated more than $600,000 to organizations including Meals on Wheels and the YMCA, and parks and preschools. In fact, the Avon Club was responsible for the big playground structure at Avonworth Community Park on Camp Horne Road.
“We provided part of the funding for that structure and the manpower,” said Kujawinski. She added that HEARTH has also been a big recipient.
“A lot of the organizations we support don’t always get funding from other sources. We try to be as responsive as we can and try to give something to everybody who applies,” she added.
Area high school seniors can also apply for scholarship money to go toward college.
Although giving back to the community has always been the club’s primary goal, it is also an outlet for socialization and for women to connect with other women.
“It has given me an opportunity to meet women I wouldn’t have met otherwise, like women a generation older than me, or women who weren’t my neighbors,” said Kujawinski. “The opportunity to make those friendships, those connections, has been valuable to me.”
With so many women in the workforce, the organization no longer holds monthly programming, but they do hold regular meetings at the Ben Avon Borough Hall on the first Thursday of most months. Currently, the Avon Club has 74 members, but Kujawinski said that the number is always in flux because they routinely get new members.
The public is invited to attend the Avon Club’s Diamond Jubilee Open House, which is slated for Saturday, May 11 from 1-4 at the Ben Avon Borough Hall. It will include a video retrospective featuring past members, and showing a visual history of the club and its evolution.
“We’re blessed and lucky to live in such a fantastic community, and we want to support it at every level,” said Kujawinski.
To learn more, visit www.theavonclub.org.