AT first Anne Sobel was skeptical about joining the Women’s Club of Costa Rica (WCCR). After attending her first meeting, she was less than enamored with the organization, but decided the next month to give it another go. “And I’ve been going ever since,” she laughs.
Now the president, Sobel is encouraging others to join, from those who once attended a meeting and were unsure if the club were for them, to women who are just finding out about the organization’s existence.
With women from 30 nationalities, the club comprises “every sort from every place” as Sobel puts it. The nearly 300 members range in age from 18 to more than 90. Most live in and around the Central Valley; however, a group also meets in Guanacaste.
FOUNDED in 1940, WCCR was begun as a social club, but during World War II, the need for a service organization became evident. Since then the club has evolved incorporating the two concepts.
Among its current projects, the group awards scholarships to 150 highschool students. WCCR directly sponsors 20 scholarships and sets up 130 privately sponsored scholarships.
Based on recommendations from counselors and academic potential, students are then selected by a WCCR committee. Once admitted into the program, students are guaranteed $200 a year for five years as long as their grades remain above 80.
Sobel says the program has been extremely successful, with a retention rate from 95 to 99%, and she estimates 80 percent of the children will go on to post-secondary education. Also, this year, the organization launched a new program to help support two former scholarship students currently in their first year at the University of Costa Rica.
Another branch of the club, WCCR Social Service, is also active in the community in several projects. “Reading is Fun,” launched this year, hopes to establish libraries of more than 100 books in rural primary schools.
WCCR Social Service does not give money directly to projects. Instead, the organization buys and supplies materials such as furniture for classrooms, sewing machines for women and donations for senior citizens’ residences.
The organization has seen a drop in membership over the past few years, something that is affecting the club. With less money coming in from dues, Sobel admits that WCCR has had to consider cutting scholarships from 150 to 130 and is uncertain of the future of their college assistance program. However, she remains optimistic and is hoping to bring in new faces.
The club holds monthly meetings in addition to organizing groups whose interests range from food to books to swimming.
It also sponsors several larger events throughout the year.
ONE is its annual luncheon and membership drive. This year’s luncheon will be a costume party held at the Costa Rica Country Club, at 11:30 a.m., March 10.
Members, old, new and prospective, are invited to attend and to dress up (costumes are optional), and to enjoy the afternoon’s festivities. Cost is ¢6,000. For tickets and info, call 249-1682 or 285-1276.
To donate to WCCR Social Service, contact Pat MacKinnon, 285-1276, [email protected]