The remoteness of a town like Yelm caused a need for the women to socialize with each other. The harsh lifestyle that they had to endure was too much without some kind of diversion from their work. Clubs provided the women in Yelm with a channel through which they could accomplish both these things. Women desired to make lasting changes that they felt were necessary in society. They yearned to demonstrate their ability to be as effective and important as their male counterparts. The need to improve themselves was also a concern. The clubs that women organized often paid strict attention to parliamentary procedure. With parliamentary procedure they proved they were capable of being organized as well as executing programs and decisions with efficiency.
The main focus of the clubs was to better the community. Several clubs were founded solely upon the desire to improve Yelm while others were created to support an interest or hobby yet still held community service as important. The Garden Club, for example, participated in many floral competitions and shows but also took it upon themselves to make wreaths for each veteran’s grave and to landscape parts of the community. The Civic Club was the most service minded of the clubs in Yelm. Some of its activities were garbage disposal, making sidewalks and courtesy ramps, clean up days, erecting signs, playground improvement and landscaping. Another important service was provided by the Orthopedic Auxiliary. This Club provided care for the children in the community by treating them for their bone ailments, which often resulted in full recovery. Patriotism was proudly displayed by the Navy Mothers of Yelm. These women volunteered countless hours at the recruiting booth, provided Christmas parties and meals for local troops and held bond drives. One of the most successful drives brought in six thousand dollars.
Women put a large amount of effort into each of the clubs that they founded or participated in. Women were effective in initiating and carrying out major civic programs in an organized manner. This was a quality of their work that proved they had the same business capabilities as men and were able to administer them. The good that resulted in the town of Yelm was a landmark to the women’s good character, hard-working mentality and desire to give to society.
By Kara Lowe (2002)
(Source: The Story of Yelm: The Little Town With the Big History, 1848-1948)