Silver Leaf empowers area women

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
This September 1965 photo shows Silver Leaf Benefit Club of Cassville members at the Rainbow Dinner House. Front row, from left: Glad Vaughn, Ida Carl, Barbara LeCompte, Betty Johnson, Hazel Edmondson, President Louise Fisher, Ann Shaver, Geneva Miller, Bessie Wiley. Second row: Sue Mitchell, Ora Shipe, Frances Blankenship, Jemima McFarlin, Clariece Hall, Wanda Peterson, Kay Edmondson, Jo Anne Ellis, Virginia Pottebaum and Dr. Mary Newman. Back row: Muriel Wear, Evelyn Hailey, Helen Hubbard, Willa Don Rudd and Signa Vollenwieder. Contributed Photo

Club requires new, younger members

The Silver Leaf Benefit Club of Cassville, which is part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC), was founded on Oct. 11, 1908, and more than a century later is still highly-involved in the local community.

"We try to empower women do things instead of just sitting back and talking about it," said Sherry Johnson, Silver Leaf president since May 2014. "[GFWC] is the oldest international club in the world."

GFWC has nine districts in Missouri. Silver Leaf is part of the Seventh District.

Johnson joined in 2012. Her mother, Louise Shultz, joined in 1965.

"She holds me to a higher standard than everybody else," Johnson said. "But, it's good because I need that. When I came into this club, I was voted in as vice president, and then I was voted in as president.

"You don't realize how many people in Barry County need help that we can help as a small club of 20 women."

Shultz, who was Silver Leaf president from 1977-1978 and 2002-2004, and a former GFWC district president, said she wanted to join the club because it very active in the community.

"I had a lot of good friends who were in the club, and they asked me to join," Shultz said. "We've planted flower beds at the parks and at the square. We built a fountain years ago. It's now where the flowerbed is on the square."

Members always used to wear a dress, a hat and gloves to each meeting, she said.

"You wore your Sunday best," said Shultz, who moved to Texas in 1985 but moved back to the area in 2000. "Now, we are more relaxed."

The club has meetings at 1 p.m. on the third Tuesdays of September through May. Dues are $35 per year.

Shultz said her daughter-in-law, Heather Edmondson, is also a member.

Edmondson is involved in the Pink Slipper program, Johnson said. The club helps her gather the materials.

"That is a program where she crochets house slippers for domestic violence facilities," she said. "She has shipped them as far as Alaska."

The club tries to create more awareness about domestic violence. Tracie Snodgrass, Silver Leaf member and club president from 2010-2012, is the state chairman for the GFWC Signature Project Domestic Violence Program.

Speakers, who represent area organizations, speak at the club during its meetings. Silver Leaf sometimes distributes funds to cover a particular need with that organization

In January, Kelly Barnes, member of the Barry County Jail Ministry since 2005, talked about the ministry with Silver Leaf.

Barnes said a group of men and women from the ministry, which started in 2004, preaches to inmates at the jail every Wednesday night.

After her presentation, the club approved a motion to to donate a case full of Bibles to the jail ministry, said Jana Tucker Catt, Silver Leaf recording secretary, who joined the club three years ago.

"I joined to be with my mother [Joan Bailey] who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's to spend time with her and bring her to club meetings," Tucker Catt said. "She is still a member but not an active one at this time. It was something that she had done the whole time when I was growing up."

Several Silver Leaf members have been her mentors for most of her life, she said.

"They have just inspired me, even though I make minimum wage," Tucker Catt said. "I still feel like it is important to give back to your community as much as possible. I can't believe with everything that we have been through in the last few months. We've had members who had surgeries, sick husbands. These women are still showing up to meetings.

"They are amazing, amazing people. As I grow older, I'm thinking, I hope I can be half of what some of these members are. We're a very loving group."

The club helps the residents at Roaring River Health and Rehabilitation put candy in the Easter eggs for a communitywide Easter egg hunt, Tucker Catt said. The club also adopts Peachwood Manor residents for Christmas.

"We buy Christmas presents for the residents," she said.

The club coordinates an art project for residents at Cassville Healthcare and Rehab every year, Johnson said.

The project helps the residents with their motor skills, keeping them active as much as possible, Tucker Catt said.

Each summer, the club hosts a pie contest at the Garden Sass Farmers' Market on the Cassville square, Johnson said. The club then auctions the pies to raise money for its scholarship fund.

This year, the club will give a $250 scholarship to a local student who needs help with college expenses. Students who attend area high schools or the Crowder College Cassville Campus can apply at their school for the scholarship.

On April 18, Johnson said the club will start a new Arbor Day project with the Boy Scouts of America Troop 76 and the Barry County Museum. After the club purchases a tree, the Boy Scouts plant it at the museum's pond around Arbor Day.

Silver Leaf has one large fundraiser per year. The club raffles off gift baskets at the annual Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce Chili and Salsa Cook-Off.

The club raises almost $1,000 every year, Johnson said. At the cook-off, the club also sells a variety of items and has a membership drive.

The club's main need is to have new, younger members, said Jean Marney, GFWC district president and a Silver Leaf member since 1979.

"The members have gotten older, and a lot of them have passed away," said Marney, who was president of Silver Leaf from 2012-2014, 2006-2008 and 1982-1984, and district president three separate times. "When you get older, you can't do as much as you used to do, and the younger ones can pick it up and do it.

"Back years ago, women didn't work so much, and you had opportunities to get new members. Now, the younger women are working by choice or by need. The children are so much busier today than they used to be. So therefore, [the women] are not available like they used to be."

If Barry County women would like to join Silver Leaf, they can contact Jean Marney at 417-652-3508 or Sherry Johnson at or 417-342-8889.

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