On February 20th, 1883, a historic moment for Florida occurred in a small town called Green Cove Springs. With the hope of improving their lives and the lives of their neighbors, a small group of …
On February 20th, 1883, a historic moment for Florida occurred in a small town called Green Cove Springs. With the hope of improving their lives and the lives of their neighbors, a small group of women came together to form the first Women’s Club in the state of Florida.
On Monday, members of the Village Improvement Association celebrated the organization’s 135th anniversary with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque honoring its past presidents.
Around 50 women gathered at the VIA Clubhouse for the celebration, which featured live music and entertainment from local acts. VIA members, along with representatives from Green Cove Springs, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and other local women’s clubs made up the diverse audience.
The VIA not only has the prestige of being the first women’s club in Florida, it also lays claim to being the 13th women’s club in the world, according to Theresa Crockett, the 63rd president of the VIA. Having been around so long, the club holds some remarkable accomplishments.
“The VIA helped establish a lot of firsts for our community,” Crockett said. “We opened the first library, the first kindergarten, and even the first school cafeteria that served lunch to students.”
GFWC Florida President Mary Powell noted these firsts, and emphasized the historical and modern importance of clubs like the VIA.
“When we look at history, a lot of times what we see is that women united to get pigs and cows off the street,” said Powell. “Women tend to want to improve the quality of life in the communities in which they live, and the VIA has a long history of making a difference.”
While their historical work is impressive, the VIA is far from inactive. Among their current activities are raising funds for and awarding educational scholarships for women, community outreach for elders and participation in local events such as Arbor Day celebrations.
“The city and the VIA have had a tremendous relationship going back many years,” said Mayor Mitchell Timberlake. “Their leadership continues to improve our community today.”