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Background Image Three women looking at scrapbook

Goddard Woman's Club is TCB

“Give a group of women a project and they will figure it out, get it done, support each other, and have a great time doing it,” according to Lisa Stoller, past president and current Club Historian of the Goddard Woman’s Club. For 85 years the Goddard Woman’s Club has been getting things done in their community. For Stoller it all began with a gavel passed down to her when she became club president (she served from 2014-2018).

Women of the Goddard Woman’s Club dedicated themselves to serving the community beginning in 1933 with the gavel given to the club’s founding president. The original members tackled many projects including supporting veterans. For Christmas 1934, they made hand-sewn bags to hold hot water bottles for veterans at the local hospital. Eight decades later the spirit of giving continued with the clubwomen stitching lap blankets as Christmas gifts for veterans in wheelchairs.

While the original members initially joined the club to expand their own knowledge of the world and the arts, they quickly became community organizers. This legacy continues today. When I asked Stoller about this, she chuckled and remarked, “My superpower is organizing!”

The club women used all of their skills to bring their most impactful project to fruition—founding the city library and championing literacy.

A Call to Arms

After World War II the club women noticed that large numbers of soldiers were illiterate—some could not even sign their names. For the Goddard Woman’s Club this served as a call to arms. The club members immediately began purchasing books for local schools and initiated a summer program for youth as a way to encourage literacy. 

As Stoller recounts the story culled from club scrapbooks, the women packed up the books from the school library and then transferred them to the Community Center where they organized the volumes for summer check out. “They managed the circulation of the books all summer, then returned everything to the schools in time for school to resume,” she shared. 

The summer library inspired the club women to start a “real bricks and mortar community library.” Here they excelled at “behind the scenes work.” The women collaborated with the local Lions Club to renovate the vacated post office and turn it into a library. They held rummage sales to fund the renovation and book drives to stock the shelves and within a year of its inception, the Goddard Public Library opened. 

“Give a group of women a project and they will figure it out, get it done, support each other, and have a great time doing it”

A photo of the open house from one of the club’s press books depicts a bicycle with a basket parked outside and a group of teenagers in shorts standing at the entrance. The club’s oldest member, 98 year old Mrs. Betty Shaw served as vice president and then president during the formation and opening of the library.

Story Time with the Puppet Ladies

Work for the club women continues to focus on literacy and the library (among other things). Stoller and eight of her club sisters can regularly be seen at the library dressed up as the Little Red Hen from the book of the same name or as the cowgirl Reba Jo who meets the Horned Toad Prince as they promote reading to emergent and young readers throughout south central Kansas as the Puppet Ladies. 

Stoller and her cohorts began the project in 2012 when they learned that attendance at the library’s children’s programs was declining. Story Time with the Puppet Ladies grew in popularity beyond the library and has reached over 10,000 people.

She credits HK and it’s Cultural Preservation Grant with saving the club’s records through digitization. “The finished product exceeded our expectations,” she noted. It is very gratifying to know that our collection has been preserved and will be accessible to our community and future generations,” she continued. The process of digitizing the club’s records instilled a sense of pride in all of the members.

Join the Movement of Ideas

Read more about the Goddard Woman's Club and their legacy of service on Kansas Memory

Learn more about women's clubs in Kansas by bringing "A Congress for Women: Women's Clubs and the Chautauqua Movement" Speakers Bureau presentation to your community. 



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