When Nan Hoffmane moved to Northwood Hills in 1968, streets in our neighborhood were still being paved and most homes were under construction. The community — including its social web — was barely budding.
Homesick for the White Fish Bay Woman’s Club she’d been part of in Wisconsin, Hoffmane decided to launch a club in her new neighborhood.
“So she scouted the neighborhood, passed out some fliers, and got nine of us Northwood women together,” recalls Lorna Burton-Crocker, who was one of the founding members and now has a daughter in the club. “We initially began with social things like gardening, children’s activities and neighborhood barbecues.”
But their group focus quickly expanded, as did their membership. By 1969 the Northwood Woman’s Club had swollen to 75 members, and soon after declared itself a civic organization, not a social club. And by the early ’80s, these women stepped up as the first neighborhood group to support the Fretz Park Library. In 1998 they endowed two scholarships to benefit upperclassmen or female graduate students at the University of Texas at Dallas, which they continue to provide every year.
The club has made helping women and children its philanthropic focus. To date, its more than 400 members have raised $3.5 million for charitable causes, and in the last five years alone, they have volunteered more than 150,000 hours in the community. No doubt, that once-small group of nine women on the outskirts of town has evolved into a philanthropic powerhouse … yet surprisingly, a lot of neighbors have never heard of them.
“We always say we’re the neighborhood’s best-kept secret,” jokes Van Brown, a club member and Northwood Hills neighbor. “We’re not always front and center, so I think people don’t realize what we do or know we even exist.”
And that’s OK, she says, because these women are drawn to the club out of a desire to help the community, not a need to be recognized for it. They’re also drawn to the sisterhood, Burton-Crocker adds.
“If someone’s facing a hardship, like the death of a spouse, we come through for each other, whether that means stopping by with dinner or just lending a shoulder to cry on. And we’re there to celebrate the good times together, too, as good friends should be.”
That’s unique, Brown points out, because their more than 400 members come from some very different walks of life. Their membership pool includes lawyers to educators to homemakers to corporate executives. That diversity works in their favor, Brown says.
“Our group is constantly evolving as we gain new members, which is a good thing because we value fresh energy and ideas,” Brown says. “This is a group of dedicated and innovative women who recognize that they can change people’s lives, and we heartily welcome women who want to contribute to that effort.”
The Northwood Woman’s Club will have its Seconds to Go rummage sale April 10 at the Richardson Civic Center, and its annual charity golf tournament April 19 at Bent Tree Country Club. For more information on both of these events, visit northwoodwomansclub.org.