Riverhead Woman’s Club still working together ‘along varied lines’

Woman's Club, Riverhead, centennial
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Riverhead Women’s Club during their August meeting at Riverhead Library. President Sandy Reeve is standing center.

How do you celebrate turning 100? For the Woman’s Club of Riverhead, it’s a luncheon.

And anyone in the community who wishes to attend is welcome.

The club, one of the oldest service clubs in Riverhead, was organized on Oct. 9, 1912, and members have scheduled their centennial luncheon for Oct. 11, 2012, at the Hyatt Hotel in Riverhead.

When the group formed, its stated purpose was “to work together along varied lines for the good of the community.”

And in the 100 years that followed, the club has aimed to achieve that purpose by giving out thousands of dollars in scholarship money to local students.

The group was also instrumental in creating Riverhead Free Library and helped get the first school nurse and school lunch program in Riverhead, according to club historian Shirley Simon.

“One of our biggest and most important functions is that we fund four $1,000 scholarships for deserving high school seniors on the East End, in the fields of art, education, music and science or medicine,” Ms. Simon said.

Over the years, the women heard back from many of the recipients of those scholarships as well.

One of them was 2002 recipient Justin Cobis. Woman’s Club member Doris Scudder said he recently wrote to update her on his progress. After graduating from Riverhead High School, he graduated from St. John’s University with a master degree in the science in education.

He’s now been a teacher at Riverhead High School for five years, as well as a coach of three sports, Ms. Scudder said.

Then there was 2004 recipient Hope Osborn, also of Riverhead High School. She went on to get a master’s degree in vocal performance and vocal pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and is now an award-winning professional opera singer who has performed more than 40 recitals throughout the United States. She teaches voice and piano in the tri-state area.

Another previous scholarship winner, Carole Joynes, went on to become president of the Woman’s Club of Riverhead about five years ago, Ms. Scudder said. As for helping to find a permanent home for Riverhead Free Library, group members fought to have a library built at a section of the Roanoke Avenue school, where the library was located before moving to its current site.

Before that, the library had moved around from place to place, often in people’s homes or offices. The current site was donated by club members Carol and Alice Perkins, whose home stood where the library is now, Ms. Simon said.

However, the state wouldn’t allow the building to be used for a public library, so the home was eventually torn down and the current library was built, Ms. Simon said. The club’s other activities have included running a Red Cross blood bank; it also held regular festivals and parades in the 1920s.

“They even had a baby parade, believe it or not,” Ms. Simon said.

That parade, as the name implies, featured kids from 3 to 12 years old marching down Main Street.

Former Congressman Otis Pike actually participated in that parade as an infant, she said. And some things never change.

About 50 years ago, the club planted trees on Main Street as a beautification project, Ms. Simon said.

However, like the trees on Main Street today, the trees caused some controversy when people started slipping on the leaves.

“The trees were cut down in the middle of the night one night by the town highway superintendent at the time,” Ms. Simon said.

The Woman’s Club has also supported numerous other charitable organizations over the years, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Suffolk County Historical Society and Hallockville, among others.

They also helped soldiers at Camp Upton during World War II.

The 100th anniversary luncheon will start at noon on Oct. 11 in the Sea Star Ballroom at the Hyatt Hotel on East Main Street.

A number of invitations have been mailed out, but anyone interested in attending should call Carol Werther at 325-2024 or write her at 123 Beethoven Court, Eastport, NY 11941. Tickets cost $40 apiece, Ms. Simon said.

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