SIDNEY — In 2017, Altrusa International celebrates 100 years of service in clubs throughout the world.
Altrusans have a passion for service. They love to serve needs in their communities especially through hands-on efforts, working with other groups, and fund raising events. The organization has 14 districts and 12 clubs-at-large.
The Sidney City Council tonight will declare Tuesday, April 11, Altrusa International of Sidney Day.
Sidney now belongs to District Five which includes Ohio and part of Michigan. At-large clubs are located around the world including England, Ireland, Scotland, Russia, India, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Altrusa Club of Sidney was organized on a Saturday evening, June 10, 1944, following a dinner at the Slagle Tea Room. Ruth Kramer, of Marion, governor of the Fourth District, under whose jurisdiction the new club fell, served as the acting official during the organizational session.
The official charter party was Sept. 21, 1944, in the Hotel Wagner, and the Altrusa Club of Sidney became a part of Altrusa International. International Program Coordinator Emma B. Christy made a formal presentation of the charter to the first president of the Sidney Club, Ruth Emmons. Kramer officiated at the initiation ceremony for the formal induction of 17 charter mMembers, the last of which, Irene Jarfas, died in 2009.
Organized in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1917, as the first service organization for business and professional women, today Altrusa International has members around the world and includes men. Leadership and service are primary reasons for individuals to join Altrusa.
Charter members of the Sidney club included Rosemary Amann, Catherine Bland, Mildred Cronley, Ruth Deishley, Dorothy Duncan, Catherine Elsner, Ruth Emmons, Miriam Ginn, Madellyn Greiner, Irene Jarfas, Mary Lauterbur, Edith Masteller, Bess Miller, Viola Minniear, Dorothy Morrison, Virginia Oldham and Lois Williamson.
Altrusans in some clubs include first, second and third generations of the same family, as well as spouses. There is an emphasis on assessing community needs and then taking action to help.
Most symbolic of Altrusa’s influence are the awards they present at the district and international levels. The Mamie L. Bass Service Award, the Letha H. Brown Literacy Award, the Nina Faye Calhoun International Relations Award and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award demonstrate the focus of Altrusa on service, literacy, international relations and humanitarian efforts.
In 2011, Mary Lou Holly, of Sidney, received the Elizabeth E. Powelson Career Achievement Award from Altrusa International District Five.
The award is given annually to an Altrusan who has distinguished herself in her chosen career and is named after a woman who had an outstanding career in science scholarship and education.
The Altrusa Club of Sidney annually presents the Ruth B. Emmons Award for outstanding newsletter. Named for the club’s first president, the award is presented during the District Five Conference in April.
Altrusa International has a foundation that supports local efforts with grant awards to clubs to meet needs in their communities. Recently, the Sidney club received a grant to purchase a book cart, which they used to distribute books in conjunction with Agape Distribution.
Over the years, club members, as fundraisers, have sold pecans, sponsored a seminar series, held a Girls Night Out, sold coupon books for Elder-Beerman and this year will host their 10th Adult Spelling Bee.
The local club also awards scholarships in June. Over the last six years, $22,000 has been given to Shelby County students headed off to college.
Sidney members run bingo games for the residents of Fairhaven on the second Tuesday of each month; host a blood drive in July; ring the Salvation Army bell in December; and sponsor a child from Burkina Faso, Africa, through Compassion International. They also work with the local “Make a Difference Day” and the downtown kids fall festival and have made donations to the YMCA, Alpha Center, Compassionate Care, Shelby County Libraries, Imagination Library and Altrusa International Foundation.
Anyone interested in the Altrusa International of Sidney organization is invited to attend either of the next two meetings. The group will meet, May 8, at The Bridge restaurant at 5:30 p.m., and June 12, at the Moose, at 5:30 p.m. The June meeting is the annual birthday celebration and presentation of scholarships.