Lake Junaluska, N.C. - “One for another and all for Junaluska!” This is the club motto of the Junaluska Woman’s Club, an organization that is now celebrating its 100th year. In 1917, about 50 women who lived as summer residents at Lake Junaluska came together to form what is now known as the Junaluska Woman’s Club.
This summer, the club is honoring their centennial with events that will highlight the contributions of women at Lake Junaluska. Several of the events, such as a through the decades fashion show and historic boat tours on the history of women at Lake Junaluska, are open to the public.
On Monday, June 12, the Junaluska Woman’s Club hosted their first event of the season, a Centennial Tea, with women in cocktail dresses, gloves and elaborate hats. The event was a welcome for new members and a reunion for returning members to the club.
Teas have always been a large part of the social and fundraising efforts of the Junaluska Woman’s Club.
“What’s really important about this year is that we are preserving the history of the woman’s club,” said Mahala Cannon, president of the Junaluska Woman’s Club. “My goal was to recruit young women to join us and hopefully stimulate their interest to keep this heritage going.”
The tea had about 80 members in attendance, including a small group of young women from Lake Junaluska who just joined the woman’s club this year.
“My friends and I all work at Lake Junaluska and were excited when we heard that the Junaluska Woman's Club was turning 100,” said Stephanie Drum, annual fund coordinator at Lake Junaluska. “I wanted to join because it gives me the opportunity to get to know other women in the community and provides me with a way to give back through the woman's club's annual fundraisers and events.”
The 100 year legacy of the woman’s club includes a commitment to improving the overall experience of life at the lake. Historically, the Junaluska Woman’s Club has supported literacy and encouraged women’s voices. They produced a magazine called The Junaluskan in 1921 and 1922 that featured original poems, songs and stories. In the mid-1920s, J.B. Ivey, owner of Ivey’s Department Stores, offered $500 for a literary competition, resulting in the book June of the Hills. The book enjoyed popularity for many years and was even put on as a play at Lake Junaluska as late as the 1980s.
In addition to the literary competitions, the woman’s club also helped sponsor and support the Lake Junaluska library. During one meeting in 1926, the woman’s club offered space in their Tea Room for a library to be housed and, throughout the next several decades, it was the woman’s club who encouraged its continued enhancement.
Perhaps one of the most memorable things the Junaluska Woman’s Club accomplished was hosting Eleanor Roosevelt in 1944. The first lady came and spoke to the woman’s club about “post-war problems.” The women who were part of the club had already helped the war efforts by opening their meeting space to the Red Cross and wrapping thousands of bandages for the soldiers abroad.
Another essential part of the identity of the Junaluska Woman’s Club both then and now is a commitment to charitable giving. In 1922, a Ms. Moffett offered the club $150 dollars if they would raise $100 for their first scholarship. The $250 scholarship was collected and gifted to two students, one of whom attended Scarrett Bible College and the other who went on to attend Yale University. These scholarships became a regular part of the Woman’s Clubs efforts.
“The early Junaluska Woman’s Club meetings were not just social gatherings,” said Centennial Vice President Marie Metcalf. “From the very beginning, they were focused on helping people. If we were as conscientious about the people around us today as they were then we would be doing miracles in the community because we have resources they never dreamed of.”
Today, the woman’s club continues to donate money to charitable causes. Clothes to Kids, the Lake Junaluska Singers and the Lake Junaluska staff Christmas party all receive funds from the Junaluska Woman’s Club.
Scholarships are still a part of the organization as well. They are funded through efforts like the annual Fashion Show Luncheon and the Appalachian Christmas Craft Show, and they are given to summer workers at the lake.
“Last year we gave $4,000 in scholarships,” Cannon said. “We want to carry out our mission to support the social, educational, religious and civic opportunities at Lake Junaluska.”
This year the club is hosting a special centennial fashion show that will be quite different from shows in the years past.
“It’s vintage. We are going to do clothes and music from every decade leading up to today,” said Sarah Hunter, who is organizing the event. “As the women come out and walk around the tables, we’ll talk about what was happening in the Junaluska Woman’s Club during that time.”
The fashion show is one of the biggest events of the year for the club. A silent auction will take place at the event, with proceeds going to the organizations they support. Organizers said what makes these fundraising efforts unique is the personal commitment each woman feels to make a difference.
“I’ve been in other women’s clubs and I’m part of other charitable endeavors, but at Lake Junaluska it’s personal,” Metcalf said. “You see the people come back next year and what a difference that small scholarship made to them. But it’s not even just about the money. When we give a donation to the Rose Walk, that’s great, but we also get out there on our hands and knees and weed. I don’t think you’d be able to find another club like it.”
That special kind of commitment extends not only to the lake itself, but to the other women who are part of the organization. Long-time member Minna Appleby joined when she and her husband built a home at Lake Junaluska in 1986. She has since served as the president of the Junaluska Woman’s Club from 1993-94 and continues to participate in the club events.
“Through the years it’s just been a great social group,” Appleby said. “There are a lot of different facets to it – we get fellowship and we get to band together to work on good projects.”
The Junaluska Woman’s Club plans to continue their legacy of forward-thinking women supporting the community who strive to enrich the lives of everyone who visits Lake Junaluska.
“Most everybody, even the newcomers, sees the effect of having a close-knit community and they want to be a part of it,” Metcalf said. “There will be women with this heart who will do this work no matter what.”
To learn more about the Lake Junaluska Woman’s Club, or to join the club, contact call Mahala Cannon at 828-430-0486 or Marie Metcalf at 828-246-5680.
Lake Junaluska is a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information about Lake Junaluska programs and events, visit www.lakejunaluska.com.
Junaluska Woman’s Club Schedule