The Orange Park Women’s Club is another wonderful example of the positive impact motivated and involved civic groups have had on Clay County’s history.
When a group of ladies get together to help their community, good things happen! In 1910, The Orange Park Woman’s club (OPWC) was proudly founded by eight ladies, led by Mary C. Berry, a winter resident. In fact, the club was the first civic organization registered in Orange Park, Florida. The founding members began by helping a local school: cleaning the schoolyard, erecting fencing, presenting a flag, and providing an individual drinking cup to each child. Next, the club established a library, which they ran for 50-years, until after World War II when the state of Florida centralized the library system. The women continued helping the community by picking up litter, placing waste baskets around town, and planting flowering trees.
In the 100 years that followed, the Orange Park Woman’s Club recognized needs in the community, and set out to meet those needs. The women took care of the sick, including more than 100 people during a malaria epidemic. During this period, the women furnished a room at St. Luke’s hospital. During World War I, they arranged for dances and entertainment at Camp Johnston (now NAS Jacksonville), and began volunteering with the Red Cross. During World War II, they helped care for returning wounded, sold war bonds and continued working with the Red Cross. Between the wars, these ladies started a hot lunch program for the elementary school. They helped to bring electricity to Orange Park and helped to make life better for needy families. In 1970, a day camp was established for handicapped children. A community theater was started and is still going strong. In 1974, they started the Hospital Auxiliary for the new hospital.