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Culture Club boasts historic legacy of awarding area students

Joshua Baethge,
The Van Alstyne Leader
Members of the Van Alstyne Culture Club pose for a photo. The group was founded in 1896 as a way for local women to honor home, education and community.

This month, a small group of Van Alstyne women will again get together for an evening of fellowship and fun.

Known as the Van Alstyne Culture Club, the ladies will discuss various topics and consider what they can do to help their community.

“I don’t think many people know about it,” Van Alstyne Culture Club reporter Jo Bell said about her organization. “It’s been around for over a hundred years.”

The social club was founded in 1896 by Mrs. Scott Fulton as a way for women to honor home, education and community.

Like many organizations founded during the era, the club was created as a way to bring women together. In those days, many of them were scattered around the countryside. Regular meetings provided an opportunity to come into town and socialize.

Today, the club maintains its emphasis on the principals of civic duties and home duties. Its bylaws limit membership to just 35 people. When an opening arises, current members nominate other women they would like to see in the club.

Each year the organization awards one scholarship to a deserving local student. This year, recent Van Alstyne High School graduate Hannah Groce earned the honor. She now attends Collin College.

Bell said that the organization would love to help more students, but the funds simply aren’t there.

The club raises money from nominal annual membership dues. For the last couple of years, it has also raised funds through a “bakeless” bake sale.

“Some of these ladies have been cooking for 50 or 60 years and they’re tired of it,” Bell said. “They don’t mind giving money for what they would spend on a cake, but they don’t necessarily want to bake one themselves. So we decided that if we had a ‘bakeless’ bake sale, all it boils down to is you donate money, and that money is used for the scholarships.”

In addition to its scholarship efforts, the social club also helps from time to time at the Meadowbrook Care Center in Van Alstyne, particularly around holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day when they distribute goodie bags.

While the basics of having tea and discussions have remained relatively constant since the group’s founding, its members and the topics of discussion have changed with the times.

During the early years, most members were homemakers, and their civic opportunities were limited.

Today, an overwhelming number of members are either working professionals or women who have retired from a career. The current group includes retired teachers, former members of state government and even a former Van Alstyne mayor.

Meeting agenda items have included book reviews, music performances, discussions on the history of battleships and even the types of dresses worn by women during the American Civil War.

For the past two years, the Van Alstyne Culture Club has met each month at the First United Methodist Church.

Bell hopes that more people will learn about the organization and its connections to the city’s rich history.

“It’s a good organization for women to be able to bond,” she said.