Pictured, from left to right, holding the $10,000 check for library restroom renovations are Carla Chropkowski, RDLF President and Cindy Goll, GFWC Rhinelander Woman’s Club President. In the back row are, representing the Rhinelander District Library Foundation, Rhinelander District Library Director Virginia Roberts; Susy Rein, RDLF Treasurer; and Gale Willcox, RDLF Secretary. Representing the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Rhinelander Woman’s Club are Connie Griesbach, Barb Oestreicher and Lucy Palm.
10/8/2019 7:30:00 AM Restrooms rescued: Long-standing relationship between local club and library continues
As it has for over 100 years, the GFWC Rhinelander Woman's Club recently came to the aid of the Rhinelander District Library which was in need of restroom renovations.
"This past summer Carla Chropkowski, president of the Rhinelander District Library Foundation reached out to the Woman's Club in the form of a letter of request for capital funds to complete the renovation of the library's restrooms," according to a GFWC press release. "Several years ago funds were raised to solve restroom plumbing issues, but now the restrooms required a complete overhaul. Members of the finance committee of GFWC Rhinelander Woman's Club reviewed the written request and made a recommendation to its membership to support the overhaul with a $10,000 donation. The funding was approved unanimously at the Club's first meeting of the new year on September 10th. A check presentation was made on Tuesday, October 1."
Over the group's 121-year Rhinelander history supporting the library was always one of its "favorite" projects, the release states.
According to the club archives, a book reception was held at the home of A. W. Brown (Clara Brown was the first president of the Rhinelander Woman's Club) on Wed., March 2, 1898. "In spite of the stormy evening over a hundred people were present and donated 120 books and $8 in money," according to the archives.
Five years after a Library Board was formed by the city, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was contacted and Carnegie offered $12,500 for a new library building with a condition of a donated site and a pledge of 10 percent of the monetary gift, the release continues. The Brown Bros. Lumber Company offered the site on the corner of Stevens and Rives and the Woman's Club pledged the necessary $1,500.
"That was the beginning and since then the Club has supported the library by funding books, film strips, a copier and more," the release states. "In 1985 the Club donated nearly $12,000 for a lower level meeting room, a new piano and sponsored a Library Tea for visiting dignitaries and interested public. Through the years the Club financially supported the Bookmobile. Over the past 10-15 years, the Club financially supports the Library Children's Department with funds for summer programming and supports the cost of books and kits for community book clubs. An annual tea party for children is held every summer which is coordinated by the library staff and members of the Woman's Club."
This year, in addition to the $10,000 donated toward the restrooms, the Club donated $3,500 for the 2020 Summer Reading Program, the young adult career and college preparation materials, updating the science and nature collection and the senior outreach program.
According to the release, there's an interesting restroom tie-in to the Club's past.
In the 1920s the Club opened a "comfort station" for women on Brown Street, called "Oneida County Women's Rest Rooms". Financial upkeep was shared by the county and city of Rhinelander. In 1929 it had nearly 17,000 visitors; this is known because individuals were asked to sign in at the entrance. In 1962 the room had to move to a new location. After 68 years of community support, the Rest Room closed its doors on Aug. 12, 1988.
Today the GFWC Rhinelander Woman's Club has 82 members. It is part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs headquartered in Washington D.C. and one of many clubs in Wisconsin and across the U.S.
Its mission is community improvement through volunteer service.
For more information, contact Cindy Goll, (715) 369-1972.
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