By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
When the La Mesa Woman’s Club (LMWC) held its general meeting in March, the members did not realize it would be the last time in 2020 they would see the inside of their building. The LMWC clubhouse, located at 5220 Wilson St., is currently in escrow and is expected to close early next year.
LMWC was established in 1902, making it the city’s oldest civic organization. The club has met in the Wilson Street clubhouse since it was built in the 1950s.
“The clubhouse has a lot of memories for people. We have women — three of them — over a hundred years old and they have been participating in some way in that clubhouse for 70 years,” said LMWC co-president Betsy Quinn.
The club made the decision to sell the building last year.
“We’ve had less participation in service projects and fundraisers, and at the same time we had some major bills coming for improvements on the clubhouse,” Quinn said. Those improvements included a new roof, repaving the parking lot and installing a new air conditioning unit. “Things like that, you know — big things. And our little fundraisers raise money for scholarships, but not hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Also, renting out the clubhouse had became a challenge because it couldn’t offer the kinds of technology perks that people are looking for these days such as special projectors and a good sound system, Quinn said. Despite the aging nature of the clubhouse space, this year it was booked for 15 engagements — quinceaneras, retirement parties, wedding receptions and the like. Unfortunately all 15 events were cancelled because of the COVID pandemic.
Although the pandemic stopped events at the clubhouse, LMWC members have stayed active. Since the shutdown, club meetings have been held by Zoom and the service-oriented members continued to be a positive force in the community. Current projects of the club include writing holiday greeting cards to recipients of Meals on Wheels; supporting select families at Bancroft Elementary School; and supporting the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce in their holiday food drive for homebound seniors. Although the LMWC’s major annual fundraiser — a card party and luncheon — was cancelled, the club voted to award five deserving Grossmont District seniors with $1,000 scholarships.
Despite the uncertainty of COVID 19, the La Mesa Woman’s Club anticipates continuing their philanthropy in the community, for the time being virtually, but plans are in the works to find another clubhouse. LMWC has hired a broker to find a new space — one the club could lease that won’t require maintenance and investment.
“I think what we’re looking for is something where the exterior is taken care of, the landscape gardening is taken care of, and we have a place maybe that we rent with office space and place for meetings and bridge and maybe a kitchenette,” Quinn said.
The selling off of Women’s Club clubhouses is not isolated to La Mesa, Quinn pointed out. San Diego’s club sold its Bankers Hill facility a few years ago and the Pacific Beach club has also put its clubhouse up for sale.
As for the property on Wilson Street, it will likely be developed into housing. It was purchased by Citymark — a developer that specializes in apartments. The sale of the property to Citymark will provide much needed funds for the club to relocate and continue to have a presence in La Mesa.
Toward that future presence in La Mesa, the La Mesa Woman’s Club is conducting a membership drive and is looking for dedicated, energetic women with a “volunteer spirit.”
“I would say the number one draw would be service to the community, to give back as much as possible that we’re able to make our little corner of the world a better place,” Quinn said of why women should consider joining.
If interested, please contact the club at 619-466-4362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at email@example.com.