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Grandmas shun rocking-chair stereotype

SILVERDALE — They were 98 and 51. They were career women and homemakers. They were long-time members and first-time attendees.

Though their backgrounds were different, the participants in the Associated Grandmothers Clubs of Washington’s annual convention had one thing in common.

And it wasn’t showing off pictures of their grandkids.

This year’s convention, held this May 4-6 at the Silverdale Red Lion, was co-hosted by Poulsbo’s own Little Norway Grandmother’s Club and the Port Angeles Grandmother’s Club. The event was a chance for local clubs to discuss general business, hold a memorial for members who have died this year and just socialize with one another.

But discussion was also on one important topic — growing membership.

“Our numbers are dwindling, we’re really on the move to try and recruit younger grandmothers,” said Darleen Munroe, President of Little Norway Grandmother’s Club.

Munroe, a grandmother of nine and great-grandmother to one, joined the club in 1967 at the urging of her own mother. She said she hopes to get the word out about what grandmother’s clubs really are and what they really do.

Members should be a grandmother, but can be of any age. There are even “honorary grandmother” memberships available at each club. Clubs participate in fund-raisers for causes like giving college scholarships, donating to local fire departments and even helping neighbors who are in need of assistance.

“If someone needs help, for instance if they burn out or something, we assist them,” Munroe explained. “We have about 10 causes that we give to.”

One of the Poulsbo club’s biggest events of the year is their annual Strawberry Festival, this year slated for June 19 at the Sons of Norway. Special shortcakes made by Sluys Bakery and quarts and quarts of fresh strawberries from Eastern Washington make for hundreds of clean bowls each year. And each bowl represents more money that can go toward the handful of causes the local ladies support.

Ten-year Little Norway Club member Bernice Denton, a grandmother of seven, said she was surprised to learn after she joined that the group did so much community service.

“It’s not just a social club. Don’t join it just to eat,” she commented.

“You have to work,” added Little Norway Club member Carolyn Minder, a three-year club member and grandmother of 13. “All that we can ask is people who want to get involved.”

At this week’s annual convention, Molly Schmidt, 98, of Ritzville and Penni Naud, 51, of the Applestate Club in Seattle’s White Center were respectively the oldest and youngest grandmothers present. Despite their age difference, the two both said being part of the civic group was a great experience, especially getting to help their communities in so many different ways. Pointing to the two, Denton said she hopes the club can shatter the stereotype of grandmothers being little old ladies in rocking chairs.

“They come in all shapes and sizes,” she said of club members.

Sidebox:

The Little Norway Grandmother’s Club meets the third Tuesday of every month at First Lutheran Church. For more information, call (360) 779-4064 or (360) 697-3812.By CARRINA STANTON

Staff Writer

SILVERDALE — They were 98 and 51. They were career women and homemakers. They were long-time members and first-time attendees.

Though their backgrounds were different, the participants in the Associated Grandmothers Clubs of Washington’s annual convention had one thing in common.

And it wasn’t showing off pictures of their grandkids.

This year’s convention, held this May 4-6 at the Silverdale Red Lion, was co-hosted by Poulsbo’s own Little Norway Grandmother’s Club and the Port Angeles Grandmother’s Club. The event was a chance for local clubs to discuss general business, hold a memorial for members who have died this year and just socialize with one another.

But discussion was also on one important topic — growing membership.

“Our numbers are dwindling, we’re really on the move to try and recruit younger grandmothers,” said Darleen Munroe, President of Little Norway Grandmother’s Club.

Munroe, a grandmother of nine and great-grandmother to one, joined the club in 1967 at the urging of her own mother. She said she hopes to get the word out about what grandmother’s clubs really are and what they really do.

Members should be a grandmother, but can be of any age. There are even “honorary grandmother” memberships available at each club. Clubs participate in fund-raisers for causes like giving college scholarships, donating to local fire departments and even helping neighbors who are in need of assistance.

“If someone needs help, for instance if they burn out or something, we assist them,” Munroe explained. “We have about 10 causes that we give to.”

One of the Poulsbo club’s biggest events of the year is their annual Strawberry Festival, this year slated for June 19 at the Sons of Norway. Special shortcakes made by Sluys Bakery and quarts and quarts of fresh strawberries from Eastern Washington make for hundreds of clean bowls each year. And each bowl represents more money that can go toward the handful of causes the local ladies support.

Ten-year Little Norway Club member Bernice Denton, a grandmother of seven, said she was surprised to learn after she joined that the group did so much community service.

“It’s not just a social club. Don’t join it just to eat,” she commented.

“You have to work,” added Little Norway Club member Carolyn Minder, a three-year club member and grandmother of 13. “All that we can ask is people who want to get involved.”

At this week’s annual convention, Molly Schmidt, 98, of Ritzville and Penni Naud, 51, of the Applestate Club in Seattle’s White Center were respectively the oldest and youngest grandmothers present. Despite their age difference, the two both said being part of the civic group was a great experience, especially getting to help their communities in so many different ways. Pointing to the two, Denton said she hopes the club can shatter the stereotype of grandmothers being little old ladies in rocking chairs.

“They come in all shapes and sizes,” she said of club members.

Sidebox:

The Little Norway Grandmother’s Club meets the third Tuesday of every month at First Lutheran Church. For more information, call (360) 779-4064 or (360) 697-3812.

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