Although smaller in numbers during recent years, members have been active ladies. Regular meetings, always with food, either refreshments or potluck luncheon, are held once a month on the first Thursday of the month, October through May. In the early 2000s, activity days, held on the third Thursday of the month, were devoted to special projects, but with members’ busy schedules these eventually ceased.
In 2001, a teachers’ appreciation program was instituted that became part of the special Partner with Orange City Elementary School project in 2003. The partnership agreement signed with the School provides the VIA Orange City Woman’s Club recognition and publicity through official channels in the Volusia County school system. Since 2003, this special partnership includes the VIA hosting an annual Teacher Appreciation luncheon and the Adopt-a-Child program, which provides extra caring touches for children who need them, as identified by the school counselor.
Activities fostering pride in Orange City in which the Orange City Woman’s Club participated in these years included Halloween Safe Night, Light-Up Orange City, Clean-up East Graves Avenue, and Keep Orange City Beautiful.
The early 2000s also began a particularly traumatic few years for the VIA Orange City Woman’s Club. The Club was unceremoniously evicted from the room in the Dickinson Memorial Library building that it had used and called its own since the building opened in 1919.
The Club’s connection with the Library has a long history dating back to 1897. In 1919 when Albert Dickinson completed a new library building, the new building continued to have a designated VIA room, as well as a hall and adjoining room for civic functions, the latter to be made available to the VIA as they needed for their meetings and other large gatherings, the same arrangement as established in 1897. The room was identified first, by a “VIA” painted in gold above the door, which was an outside door, and later, by a “VIA” plaque on the door itself.
An unwritten understanding always existed between the Orange City Library Association, which owns the building, and the VIA, and the two groups mutually supported the building and its uses. Records show that the VIA was a substantial donor to the library over the years. With the advent of a new Association President and Board, the VIA was allowed to use the building without a fee but had to remove all memorabilia and could no longer store anything on the site. All identifying signs of VIA were removed.
Because of our lengthy established use of the building, the VIA filed a lawsuit against the Library Association, but after a few years, the Club let it languish so that members could concentrate on more amenable activities. Meetings began to be held in the historic Jane Murray Hall of the Congregational Church. And the City began letting the VIA use the Albertus Cottage as a “club house”.
The State’s stipulation for the restoration grant for the Cottage was that it be used for educational purposes, so the VIA proposed that the Albertus Cottage have an “Art Director” to make and hang displays. We were given permission to go ahead with this, and Club Booster Bob LaFleur became the Art Director. He made a series of wall-hung exhibits.
Because of the Club’s particular interest in the history of Orange City and its continuing commitment to the City, the VIA participated whole heartedly in the City’s 125th anniversary celebration in March 2007. VIA members dressed in period costumes and participated in the kick-off event, a parade and were docents for a tour of historic homes and public buildings. The Club also had representatives on the planning committee and helped create an attractive 20-page souvenir booklet showing early photographs of the town.
Of huge relief to us in 2012 was the settlement of our lawsuit with the Orange City Library Association. Our fractured relationship with the Association was a continuing source of hurt and frustration, and we became very tired of the ongoing bitterness.
In October of 2012, the VIA donated a check to the City which was used to purchase and install a watering station at the Waggin’ Tails Dog Park. The VIA expanded its charitable giving in 2013 to include the promise of $2,000.00 to the Colin’s Dream Park Fund. Colin Anderson, an Orange City teenager, was killed in a tragic accident while crossing Volusia Avenue after skateboarding with friends. Colin’s mother worked with the City to establish a skate park after raising matching funds to make the park a reality.
The matching funds, including the VIA check, were complete in the Fall of 2017, and the park opened in 2019.
In October 2014, the VIA planted its first Pinwheel for the Prevention of Child Abuse garden. The distinctive blue and silver pinwheels symbolize the efforts to prevent child abuse. Prevention of Child Abuse is a project of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), of which the VIA is a part. As April is Prevention of Child Abuse month, we have planted a pinwheel garden in Dickinson Park every April since then. Most recently in 2020, through partnership with the City of Orange City and our Pinwheels for Prevention committee, the program has opened up to plant pinwheel gardens in all parks city wide. Through sponsorship from our community businesses and individuals, the VIA was able to donate $1306.00 to the Beacon Center a Volusia County Shelter that advocates and supports victims of abuse.
In recognition of 120 years of service, GFWC Florida created a quilt with a square from each club in the State. The completed quilt, which was presented at the 2015 Spring Convention in Orlando, hangs at Headquarters in Lakeland. The VIA Orange City Woman’s Club participated by submitting a quilt square depicting its heritage and years of service.
In 2019, The VIA celebrated it’s 125th anniversary as a service club! A 125th Anniversary Gala was held to commemorate this historic event. The Gala was a formal affair attended by many friends, community partners, and local government officials celebrating the service members and longevity of commitment the club has made to our city. The Mayor attended and awarded the club a proclamation of service. The Gala helped raise over $2500.00 which was donated to Operation Smile, a signature GFWC program that assist in providing children surgeries for cleft lip/cleft palate. News and photographs of the Village Improvement Association Orange City Woman’s Club are available on the web at gfwcorangecity.org
The following women have been president of the Club since 2000:
- Mrs. Dorothy Pomeroy, 2000-2002
- Mrs. Joan J. LaFleur, 2002-2004
- Mrs. Carolyn Benton, 2004-2006
- Mrs. Dorothy Pomeroy, 2006-2008
- Mrs. Joan J. LaFleur, 2008-2012
- Mrs. Priscilla Ballasy, 2012-Present