Since its founding in 1958, the Women’s Association has continued to serve as one of the greatest supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. Through fundraising events and individual donations, the Women’s Association has fostered relationships and helped fund the Clubs’ most basic needs.
The Women’s Association began in 1958, headed by Tippy Schmidt, with eight or ten women involved who primarily resided in the lake area of the western suburbs of Minneapolis. The women at this time were spouses of men serving on the board of directors for the Minneapolis chapter of Boys Clubs of America. The initial goal for the organization was to provide positive alternatives, activities and support for boys in targeted neighborhoods where the need was the greatest. Meanwhile, the Women’s Association rapidly expanded and was eager to further the cause, and at its peak in the early 90’s had approximately 125 enthusiastic and committed members. Today, 64 years later, times have changed. Original members have passed on, and more competition from other fundraising events has grown, which led to dwindling membership. The Women’s Association of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities disbanded in 2022.
The Women’s Association has always seen its purpose as funding the Clubs’ most basic needs. Nourishment of mind and body has been a priority for the group throughout the many years of its existence, including basic educational skills (reading, writing, and arithmetic) provided by a caring staff and volunteers. At times, through the efforts of the Women’s Association, food supplies have been donated and/or subsidized by businesses to provide healthy meals or snacks for Boys & Girls Clubs youth.
In the early days, the Women’s Association held white elephant sales and bought cars for the Clubs. It raffled needlepoint rugs that the members made, raising as much as $15,000. Members held golf tournaments, rummage sales, and Steak & Burger events. The women hosted movie premieres, attended by such note-worthy individuals as Richard Nixon. In 1970, they started hosting Galas. For years, they enlisted huge names in the entertainment industry, including Bob Hope, Carol Channing, Jay Leno, Luciano Pavarotti, and comedians Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. The Gala is recognized as one of the most successful fundraising events in the Twin Cities, and it has raised as much as one–third of the annual operating budget for the Clubs.
In 1999, the Minnesota Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives recognized the Women’s Association as an Outstanding Philanthropic Organization for its leadership through exceptional contributions to philanthropy. Other Boys & Girls Clubs from Minnesota and other states, as well as other non-profit groups, requested the Twin Cities group share information on their many successful fundraising and community sponsored events. Officers from the Women’s Association were also invited to informal sessions at the regional and national Boys & Girls Clubs of America meetings to share information on their accomplishments.
A large part of the fundraising was through the silent auction at the annual Gala’s with as many as 600 to 700 items. Auction categories included Home and Garden, Beauty, Electronics, Wine and Dine, Experiences, Kids, and Sports, to name a few. Examples of unique auction items included Minnesota Twins suite for 12 with food and beverages, children’s life-sized playhouse, Hennepin County Sheriff’s office crime lab tour, birch bark snowman family, and sports items autographed by team celebrities. Exceeding expectations, one year the Minneapolis Jaguar dealership donated a brand new car! So many local businesses and individuals were willing to contribute.
It took many days and countless hours to organize these huge auctions. When the auction grew in size, the “auction site” grew, from storage in a member’s basement to a donated warehouse space. The Women’s Association members would start meeting many months prior to the event to receive, catalogue, tag and pack away items. Members also created beautifully arranged themed baskets such as the “Holiday Hostess Basket” and “It’s Cocktail Time Basket.” On the day of the event, setup was a laborious process putting out bid cards and gift card placards, and making sure everything was in order. The Boys & Girls Clubs staff were essential to help organize! For many years the silent auction would generate over $500,000. In 2000, the event was held at the St. Paul River Center and was the first one million dollar Gala! The event transitioned over the years and is now organized by the Boys & Girls Clubs’ staff. The Gala is now named For the Kids!
Other events were explored to raise money such as a competitive bridge tournament held at the Wayzata Country Club. This event became very popular and drew a large number of non-members, some travelling from over an hour away! The proceeds from this event were dedicated to the Voyageur Environmental Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs’ camp in Mound. The camp director would make a special appearance and provide commentary on the joys of camp and how the donations were used. A champagne brunch and fashion show, including vendors and a silent auction, were held at the Lafayette Club. Many members enjoyed being models for a day wearing fashionable outfits from local boutiques. A dinner and wine tasting event was hosted aboard Al & Alma’s luxury yacht Bella Vista with captain and crew, exploring the shores of beautiful Lake Minnetonka. A chili cook–off at Camp Voyageur also became a popular event.
From hosting meetings to serving on energetic and fun-filled committees as well as social events celebrating birthdays or holidays, this group keeps the focus on making and keeping lifelong friends. With generous spirits, huge hearts and dedicated passion, the Women’s Association members have worked tirelessly to support the mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.
2022 Women’s Association Roster
Beverly L. Johnson Anderson
Barbara Michael Baker
Maria Melken Malooly