By Greg Ellison
(Oct. 15, 2020) After being on a hiatus of sorts since March because of the coronavirus, the Women’s Club of Ocean Pines held its first, but likely not last, virtual meeting on Oct. 1.
Women’s Club President Karin Benton said the membership group, which usually meets the first Thursday of each month except for July and August, has experienced a strange transition during 2020.
“We had to cancel our meetings for April, May and June,” she said. “We put everything together so we could be back in the fall.”
The pandemic also put a dent in numerous charitable endeavors.
“We had to cancel some of our big fundraisers,” she said.
Benton said the Women’s Club annual fashion show, which is tentatively scheduled to return next April, managed to raise money despite not occurring this year.
“A lot of people have prepaid for the spring fashion show and quite a number said keep the money,” she said.
Since being established in 1974, Women’s Club members have provided financial backing for various OPA departments, including recreation and parks, as well as police and firefighting efforts.
Area nonprofits receiving assistance from the Women’s Club include Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, Coastal Hospice, Worcester County GOLD and Women Supporting Women.
The members have also chipped in funding for capital projects such as the Worcester County Veterans Memorial and the Ocean Pines Skateboard Park.
“We do have a fundraising group that’s going to be putting together things we can do virtually,” she said. “You don’t want it to go backwards in terms of supporting groups that are helpful to the community.”
Over the past dozen years, the Women’s Club has focused on awarding scholarships to high school seniors living in Ocean Pines, with more than $40,000 distributed to roughly three-dozen recipients, with another approximately $23,000 handed off to area nonprofits and charities.
Strategizing for future efforts, as well as a class reunion, occurred during the initial virtual meeting of the Women’s Club held in October.
“I think the benefit of seeing everybody else is vital,” she said. “We thought of trying to do an outdoor meeting for October but it’s hard to responsibly social distance.”
Benton said all told 32 members logged on for the October online meeting.
“Our membership normally exceeds 80 people,” she said.
Benton said Joyce Piatti, the current vice-president of membership, is collecting annual $10 renewal dues that usually are turned in during September.
Benton said several members have expressed doubts about continuing with the group.
“I said, ‘you’re making a mistake because we’re going to have Zoom meetings and we’re going to be supporting our charities,’” she said.
Next month the Women’s Club will welcome guest speaker Jan Chiampa, regional dementia specialist at Genesis HealthCare, to its monthly meeting on Nov. 5 at 10 a.m.
“We’re trying to find programs that really would be of interest,” she said. “Jan is going to be talking about different coping mechanisms, especially as we’re moving towards the holidays.”
Benton said the presentation would highlight methods to adjust your expectations and how to still enjoy what we have this year.
Anyone interested in learning more or joining the Women’s Club can email Piatti at firstname.lastname@example.org or Benton at email@example.com.
“I would be happy to talk to anybody that would like to join us,” she said. “We are certainly encouraging people to join and we think it will be beneficial.”