LANSING, MI — Lansing Association of Women’s Clubs (LAWC) became a reality through the efforts of Dr. Rose T. Brunson, Mrs. Gertrude Lee and Mrs. Ina B. Majors. A community survey was conducted by these women in the early forties that established the need for a nursery.
These courageous women, all members of the United Mother’s Club sought means to finance and house the nursery project through the Landon Fund, a financial aid plan of World War II. However, the war ended and the funds were discontinued. Subsequently, Dr. Brunson approached the late R.E. Olds while Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Majors, Mrs. Hazel, Robinson and other canvassed the city for individuals and organizations to support their cause.
Mr. Olds made a contribution of three or four thousand dollars for a down payment and remodeling of the house at the corner of Logan, which is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Williams Streets. The purchase contract became a reality in January of 1945. One hundred women contributed five dollars each and became Charter members. Dr. Rose T. Brunson was the first president and Mrs. Ina B, Majors was the first vice president.
A mass membership drive was climaxed at Hillsdale Baptist Church, which is now Union Missionary Baptist Church in July of 1945. Mr. Olds stated that he had given a house to the white women of Lansing and was going to contribute a house for minority women. The club house was designated for all minority women of the city and was to be used for projects approved by the officers and the Board of Directors with a stipulation that the club house could not be sold. If it was sold the property would be given to the State of Michigan if used for anything other than a club house.
The first project of the club house was the Community Nursery. Other projects included: Saturday Morning Story Hour for Children; Arts and Crafts classes; Prenatal classes; and teenage parties and forums in cooperation with the Lincoln Center Youth.
The building that LAWC is now located at 301 S. Butler. Oldsmobile purchased the original club house for expansion.
Almost sixty-two years later, the LAWC is still operating. The association was among the first to sponsor activities for senior citizens.
During the holidays, the members of LAWC decided they would give poinsettias to ten of their members who were over the age of 65.
Georgia Brown, who will soon be turning 94 years old, is one of their oldest members and reminisced about the history and her times spent with the women of the club. Ms. Brown said the club house was established during a time when racism and discrimination was abundant.
In light of the trials the founding women had creating a space for themselves Ms. Brown said, "We are all sisters and brothers no matter where we come from. We can all work together to make this a better place. As we share the joy of companionship may we learn the meaning of friendship. We can also change the way we think. It is never too late. God put us all here for a reason."
The organization is looking for new members. They currently have a membership of two hundred twenty three but they need more people to be active in their community functions. At the African American Day Parade they gave out free popsicles. During the holidays they made and distributed Thanksgiving baskets and financially supported the "Take A Youth Shopping" for Christmas program.
Betty Gilmore, who has been a member for almost five years said, "Having younger people join could definitely make LAWC more viable in the community. Our President, Stephanie Brown, has done a fabulous job assisting us with community outreach."
The club house is rented out to eight organizations for their monthly meetings to help with the costs. The house is also rented to those who want to have an event, such as a dinner.