Women Behind the Lines

An Embosing on a Norwood Women’s Club program. (from the collections of the Norwood Historical Society)

The Norwood Women’s Club, established in 1900,  is one of Norwood’s oldest continual organizations in town. At a time when many Women’s clubs are seen as redundant and are having a hard time finding and keeping members, this club is still going. Over it past 120 years, it has sponsored many activities and programs for its members, such as lectures, dramatic readings, musical programs, fashion shows, as well as fundraisers to support town programs. Over the years, they have been responsible for starting services that still are helping Norwood citizens today. They started and sponsored the visiting nurse program in 1906, the Women’s Community Committee began in 1925, and in 1932 they sponsored the Norwood Garden Club.

A Nursing uniform circa 1918 (from the collection of the Norwood Historical Society)

Norwood Women’s Club established a visiting nurse program for the town in March of 1906. The notion of public nursing was not a new idea, as Boston had established such a program twenty years earlier, which was first in the country.  In 1909, Norwood employed one nurse for $75 a month. Her days were long as she was expected to work from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday, and she would visit very sick patients on weekends if needed and she would be on call for emergency visits. Some of the cases she managed were surgical, medical, obstetrical and she was even expected to treat patients with tuberculosis. A loan closet was set up to store bed linens, clothing, and sick room appliances. If needed food could be delivered. The visiting nurse program was seen as a good way to administer health services at a minimal cost, and by reaching patients in their homes and teaching them how to care for themselves or a family member, will have a lasting positive effect.

The WCC Thrift Shop’s current store

In 1925 the Norwood Women’s Club formed a committee, Women’s Community Committee (WCC), to assist families and to improve the town. Two women in this committee, created a program to assist some of Norwood’s needy families. They began collecting donations of cast-off clothing and household items, which  they would then distribute to families in need. Within two years, their program had grown such that they needed a space to house the collected items and distribute them. They opened a thrift shop on Washington Street in South Norwood, which still operates today. In the mid-1930s the WCC ended its association with the Norwood Women’s Club, becoming their own organization. They are a non-profit, 100% volunteer driven program. Since it was founded the WCC has tried to understand community problems and meet community needs. They realize that their relationship with customers and donors are the most important part of their organization, and that with the community’s support they can accomplish their goal of extending a helping hand to those in need. With the net money they earn, they put back into the community, either in the form of scholarships or as a donation to one of the many community-sponsored programs, services and charities.

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