In March 1897, a very small group of women met in the jury room of the Ouray Courthouse to organize a club whose purposes would be self-improvement, community service, and philanthropy. The club was named the Woman’s Club of Ouray (WCO). The Club’s first community service project was the establishment in 1898 of a public library known as the “Lincoln Memorial Library.” In 1900 Thomas Walsh replaced the first library in the second story of the City Hall, and all the books from the Lincoln Memorial Library were placed in the Walsh Library.
From these auspicious beginnings and throughout the more than 100 years that followed, the Woman’s Club has maintained its commitment to philanthropy and community service, now expanded to include the entire county. “At the inception of the club, travel around Ouray County was a slow process, and naturally the majority of the founding members lived in the City of Ouray,” explained (then) club co-president and longtime club member, Vicki Caldwell. “As our modern age emerged and transportation and travel became more easily available, the Woman’s Club quickly added members from the entire Ouray County area. Today, less than half of the membership lives in Ouray; the majority of our 80-plus dedicated members live throughout Ouray County. Hence, the need and the recognition of our organization’s name, which represents unified women committed to making Ouray County a better place to live.”
As a result, In 2012, club members voted to amend their constitution and change the name of the organization to the Woman’s Club of Ouray County (WCOC).
Club members continue to diligently volunteer to provide services needed in Ouray County. Recent project include funding and maintenance of a hospice room in Valley Manor Care Center, as well as the opening of the first Medical Loan Closet available to all people in Ouray County and adjacent areas. Numerous activities and projects further their goals. (Read more. . .)
Every year the club accepts grant applications and donates to Ouray County non-profit organizations in order to support other important groups within the county. (In 2012, over $9000 in grants were allocated.) All projects, donations and grant monies provided to others have one common monetary funding source: The Woman’s Club of Ouray County’s Annual Rummage Sale. Held in June of every year, the rummage sale is a long-standing tradition that provides a much-needed opportunity for special purchases for many people. (Details here.) Members work many hours sorting and pricing the items, and the community receives incredible bargains.
The Woman’s Club also began a series of outstanding monthly programs centered around “Uncommon Women: Uncommon Lives.” Created and organized by club vice president, Barb Morss, the programs feature exceptional women (from the region) and their unique contributions. (Details here.)
As the years have flown by (1897 to 2012), people, names and buildings may change. However, the Woman’s Club of Ouray County continues its one unifying principle of “community service and philanthropy,” Caldwell said. “We invite any interested woman to attend a meeting, to learn our history and goals, to share great programs and to serve fellow Ouray County citizens.”
All women of the Club freely contribute their time and talents toward making their towns and their county a better place. One of the current goals of the WCOC is to bring new, enthusiastic members into the Club. While every WCOC woman continues to live the Club’s motto of investigate, improve, and impart, we cordially invite current Ouray County women to join us on the third Tuesday of each month at 1:00 p.m. in the Ouray Community Center to share outstanding programs, to celebrate wonderful friendship and food, and to give freely to the beautiful county in which we live!
*Excerpts from an article submitted by Vicki Caldwell and published in part by The Watch, June 4, 2012
Watch Newspapers- Ouray Woman’s Club Goes County-Wide
by Watch Staff. Jun 04, 2012
Ouray News – Woman’s Club Sale a success due to many
by Vivian Ferguson, Donna Hudson and Lou Goff. Jun 27, 2014
Watch Newspapers – Woman’s Club of Ouray County Hosts Huge Annual Rummage Sale June 20-21
Samantha Wright Jul 16, 2014
Watch Newspapers – Women’s Club Rummage Sale a Success
Patricia Radcliff. Jul 01, 2009
2015 Rummage Sale record-breaking success!
Watch Newspapers – Grants Awarded to Twenty Four Ouray County NonProfits
by Beverly Corbell. Oct 31, 2011
Watch Newspapers – Women’s Club of Ouray Wants to Share Their Money
by Christina Callicott. Aug 26, 2008
Woman of the Year
Ouray News – Woman’s club names Caldwell ‘Woman of the Year’
by Beecher Threatt. Dec. 29, 2013
Ouray New – Caldwell Poem
by Nancy Rule
Ouray News – Ouray County 2012 Woman of the Year named.
by Mary Pat Haddock. Dec. 23, 2012