Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jane Groom, GFWC Florida Volunteer of the Year! 

Not only was she nominated by her club, but she was chosen from all the state nominees as the FLORIDA VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR!  Read the story below that details just some of the many reasons that our club members LOVE, admire, respect and follow her leadership with joy! 

We love you, Jane Groom! 

The GFWC Woman’s Club of Panama City, FL, Inc. is proud to nominate a lady for Volunteer of the Year who says, “Please keep in mind that whatever I do as far as volunteering in our community, it is always done with the help of my dear friends. . .  This humble lady is Jane R. Groom.  Not only does she give credit to her friends, but she also credits God with giving her the talent to be an incredible cook.  It is through cooking that Jane has touched the lives of so many others in our community.
Jane attended the club leadership and planning workshops.  When we talked about fund raising, she said, “I can show you how to “cook-up” the money.  Then she scheduled events, established teams and created menus.
Some of the children in our community who so desperately need our love and attention are victims of abuse, abandonment or loss of a parent due to incarceration.  Jane loves to recognize and encourage folks who help these children with a big meal and lots of love for their efforts.   Not only has she bought clothing and school supplies for the centers, but she has also planned Woman’s Club projects to promote awareness and foster collaboration to better meet their needs.  One of these projects was a Child Abuse Prevention Month breakfast.  About 100 professionals from Florida’s 7-county 14th Judicial Circuit converged on the clubhouse to feast on her homemade biscuits, ham, eggs and grits among other things.  The casual setting allowed representatives from law enforcement, social work, State Attorney’s office and shelter coordinators to put a face with the voice on the phone or written email.  They were able to share ideas for more efficient communication and response.  Another 80 community professionals attended the Domestic Violence Awareness Month breakfast.  Some of the attendees served both areas, but others did not.  Discussions included victims as well as the professionals.  As Jane said, “Nothing fosters a positive exchange of ideas as much as sitting down to eat good food together.” 

During these events Jane discovered we didn’t have cooking pots of sufficient size.  She borrowed pots from the church and added pots to the club’s wish list, and one of the Community Service Programs (CSPs) paid for a pot.  The Children’s Advocacy Center coordinates all services for abused children from the 14th judicial circuit.  Jane has provided stuffed animals and small toys to help assuage the children’s fears.  For Easter, she made 40 Easter baskets with coloring books, crayons and bunnies.
Jane jumped at the chance for our club to provide dinners to welcome wounded military and their caregivers (usually spouses) who came to our community as part of a therapeutic weekend.  These twice a year retreats were developed by a local woman whose son is a double amputee.  Some of these heroes come straight from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  Few have received any appreciation for their sacrifices.  Jane established a theme of “Grandma’s Dining Room” for their first evening and meal together after arriving in town.  She recruited club members for set-up with consideration for wheel chairs, decorations, transportation & parking assistance, cookie baskets for their rooms and hostesses to greet the 80 people who would be our guests each time.  She wanted ladies and spouses who could hug an amputee or shake hands with a prosthesis and say, “Welcome!  We appreciate what you have done for your country,” without hesitation or a grimace.    Jane got a local minister who was also an Air Force Reserve Chaplain to off the devotion and be with our heroes and family members.  Once she had the “front of the house” committees in place, she handpicked her kitchen staff.     For this, and many other functions, Jane donated most of the food including her homemade sourdough rolls, baked ham, chicken, green beans, au gratin potatoes, chocolate pie and strawberry cake.  One 18 year old double amputee asked if we could ship her home with him.  Because of her vision and enthusiastic leadership, our club now has a team of ladies from each CSP who are already planning the next dinner.
Since we have a clubhouse, it is sometimes a challenge to raise operational funds.  Jane volunteered to “cook up” quarterly Sunday brunches.  Many of our members go to nearby churches so her plan was for members to provide tickets to their friends at church.  She researched times church services let out and figured seatings thirty minutes apart with buffet service.  She set the tickets at only $10 each, and we have realized an income of over $1,000 per brunch.   She also instituted “to go” orders to be taken to members who could not attend.

Jane’s CSP arranged and supervised a work release project to improve the clubhouse with inmates from the county jail.  Even though the inmates had sack lunches, Jane added their numbers to the club members and deputies who were supervising, and we all sat together at lunch.   The inmates’ community service came about as the result of a penalty.  She used that opportunity to talk about the need to do community service with enthusiasm and to meet a true need in the community.  Not only did she want them to know we appreciated their work, but she also wanted them to continue to help the community after they had served their sentences.   We were able to answer questions about what the Woman’s Club contributes to the community. 
Jane helped with the club’s Veteran’s Day parade booth.  Not only did she help set up and bake 120 dozen cookies, but she also took her granddaughter to help hand them out.  In addition, she took cookies to the veteran’s home.
Jane is chairman of the Celebration Team at her church.  It is a fun committee that cooks for 200-300 people at a time at bereavement receptions, wedding receptions, Wednesday night dinners, 5th Sunday dinners and youth dinners among other activities.  She prepares food for volunteers to serve to 100 homeless and hungry six times a year.  And, she doesn’t miss weekly circle or Bible study meetings.
Some of our student athletes come from homes that have little food.  Jane prepared nutritious pre-game meals for a high school football team’s home games.   She ensures no team member goes into the game feeling hungry.  Jane works full time for a family business.  Most of the schools have booster clubs that obtain ribbons and trophies from her business.  A couple of schools in depressed areas cannot afford awards.  Jane sees to it that these children receive their awards.  She also donated books for a summer reading program for a “D” school.
The one project she has participated with that has not been for charity has been to assist a local chef with cooking classes for the Encore Program at Gulf Coast State College.  This program is held twice a year, every Friday for six weeks.  Jane has even involved her granddaughter.  That cooking team provided one of the funniest programs at our clubhouse.  She wore an apron that said, “Groomed for the Kitchen.”  She liked it so much that she suggested we make and sell aprons identifying the wearer as a Woman’s Club of Panama City member.  She is still taking orders for aprons.
Jane has willingly and graciously “cooked up” good food, camaraderie, operational income, public awareness and fun for the GFWC Woman’s Club of Panama City. For a lady who says she would rather be in the background, “just working in the kitchen,” Jane Groom has been a dynamic force in targeting the Woman’s Club’s volunteer efforts.  She is truly deserving of being Volunteer of the Year.

A Mother's Example

The General Federation of Women's Clubs has its own website:

One of the most interesting links is a series of articlea about club women all across the USA with historic information about many club women who have had several members of their families involved in the work of the GFWC.  

One of those families is our own Culbreth Family.  You may know them - they've been serving this club for a very long time and they have made a tremendous impact in the lives of many people in our local community.  

The article is entitled: A MOTHER'S EXAMPLE written by her daughter (our own) Helen Culbreth Schrenker.  Here is a portion of the article which you can read in its entirety at

A Mother's Example by Helen Culbreth Shrenker

My mother, Opal Hendrix Culbreth, set an example of community service for her five daughters by involvement in community activities and organizations. She, as did I and three of my sisters, found an outlet for that spirit of service in the GFWC Woman’s Club of Panama City (Florida). My mother joined the club in 1960, and remained an active member until she became homebound with ALS in 1982. However, she maintained her membership until her death in 1986. 

My sister, Sara Culbreth Cooper, began her membership in 1969. Because of poor health, she is unable to attend meetings, but, she has kept her membership. In addition to other responsibilities, Sara has served as house rentals chairman and scholarship committee chairman.

I joined the club in 1997, and have served as historian and International Outreach service coordinator. My sister, Joan Culbreth Parker, has been a member since 1993, and served as club president for the 2000-2002 term. Prior to that she was a vice-president and Arts coordinator. Sadly, Joan passed away in 2006 from ovarian cancer. 

My sister, Marynel Culbreth Adams, joined the club in 2005, and presently serves as corresponding secretary. She was recently elected as a vice-president for the coming term. 

We sisters are all graduates of Florida State University—four of us have earned advanced degrees in education—and have had successful careers as teachers. My eldest sister, Bayne Culbreth Coonce, chose to channel her community service through the garden club, but she has always been supportive of our woman’s club projects.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Historical Highlights

In the sleepy Gulf Coast fishing village of Panama City in 1913, thirty-two women with a vision for their community met and launched the Woman’s Club of Panama City.  Today, this organization proudly celebrates its ninety-eighth year of service to the community. 

Immediately these women began working to support city ordinances that would keep horses tethered to downtown hitching posts, to get pigs and cattle off the streets, and to outlaw spitting on the sidewalks.  In 1922, the ladies led a city-wide cleanup and beautification effort.  Other early projects were establishing the town’s first public library; paying the salary of the first county public nurse, and making available $1400 for teachers’ salaries in the Depression.  During World War II, the Club received national recognition for selling more than $500,000 in war bonds.

Many local projects have received ongoing support through the years.  In 1967, along with 24 other civic organizations, the Woman’s Club pledged their support to help build the Junior Museum of Bay County.  The club became a founding member of the Children’s Advocacy Center in 2000, and has continued their support with funds and volunteer hours.  The CAC is a temporary safe haven for children who have been separated from their families.


Since 1988, the Home Life Department has sponsored the Annual Community Prayer Coffee which is open to the public.  The club’s primary fundraiser, The Red Stocking Revue, is held every other year.  This is a themed musical variety show held in the downtown Marina Civic Center for 3 nights that is totally planned, produced, and performed by club members and many talented local residents.

While supporting the GFWC and the FFWC and their action plans, members actively participate in local charities, particularly those of interest to women and children.  Included are the Heart Walk, Cancer Relay for Life, World Food Day, and Make-a-Difference Day.  An effort is made to “sweeten” many civic functions; for example, the Club annually furnished lemonade and cookies to marchers in the Veterans Day Parade.

In 2004, the Club was honored to have been selected by Southern Living Magazine to host the Southern Living Idea House.  During the summer, 15,000 visitors were escorted through the home by over 150 club members, accumulating 3,048 volunteer hours.  

The Club was rewarded with a financial contribution and materials for a new roof.

The Club members are “at home” in their historic clubhouse.  Early meetings were conducted at the clubhouse on W. Beach Dr, but in 1936 the present facility was built on land donated by real estate developer H.L. Sudduth.  Additions were made to the house in 1960 and 1975 that brought it to its present capacity.  The monthly luncheons are held here, allowing the membership an opportunity to come together for fellowship, food, information and planning.  

The clubhouse also is a gracious site for many weddings, receptions, and other social functions.  Commemorating the founding year of the club, The 1913 SOCIETY has been established to conserve and sustain the club’s real property for many years to come.