Members of the Lord Baltimore Women’s Club have been enhancing life in Ocean View for 85 years.
Faithful members raise $15,000 to $20,000 annually and give away most of it each year, including $10,000 worth of scholarships to deserving high school students, with each student receiving about $2,000.
Lord Baltimore, Clayton and Phillip Showell elementary schools each receive $1,000.
“We try to do things that impact as many in the entire school as we can. If they need art supplies, that would involve all the kids in the school,” explained Club President Barbara Sunderlin.
“This year, we did a lot with literacy materials, the headsets they use in the classroom.,” she said.
Recently, the club donated $300 to the Ocean View Police Department, earmarked for the annual bicycle safety campaign.
Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, while giving his monthly report to the Town Council last week, called the Women’s Club “a great organization” and said the police department has been affiliated with its members for years.
To raise money, club members organize several events, including a fashion show every year at Baywood Greens, scheduled for Oct. 10 this year.
“One of the stores provides clothes for models — and it’s volunteers in our club who model. We have a big auction. We have a Dine Around basket. Local restaurants donate gift cards to those restaurants. This year we raised $1,400,” Sunderlin said.
Guests buy tickets to the annual formal tea, complete with fancy tea sandwiches and scones. This year, the tea, with a sunny beach theme, was scheduled for March 25 at Cripple Creek but has been rescheduled for May 12, because of coronavirus-related restrictions.
A bake sale is planned for May 22 at Hocker’s Supermarket at Salt Pond Plaza.
For the club’s dine-and-donate on March 31 from 5 to 9 p.m., Hooked Up, on Town Center Drive in Millville, will donate a percentage of sales to the club.
“There are so many retired women here now that had such wonderful careers and did such wonderful things, and they are looking to get involved,” Sunderlin said.
“They want to come to one of our meetings and see what we do, or they come to a fashion show and see what we do,” she said.
Sunderlin, in her fourth year as president, said one of the nicest benefits of being in the club is making friends.
“With many of these women, our paths would not have crossed if it was not for Lord Baltimore Women’s Club,” she said.
Agreeing, member Kathy Salamone said joining the club in 2017 helped her make friends after moving to Sussex County with her husband.
When her husband died in July 2018, “the women were tremendously supportive,” she said.
“I was so thankful I knew a lot of the women within the organization, but there’s a cluster of half a dozen of them who really came together and helped me in those initial months that were so difficult for me,” she said.
“What they did for me was much more than they realized. Being on my own after losing my husband — and I have no family that is close by — it was a good thing to know I had people who cared about my wellbeing and who were willing to take care of me to extent that they could,” she said.
“Part of what makes me me is I have always been drawn to groups that are trying to make a difference in the community. In the process of trying into get myself settled in, I wanted to make friends and be part of a group dedicated to helping the community,” she said.
That dedication extends to donating to the food bank every month, planning to volunteer at the new Beebe Healthcare South Coastal Emergency Department in Millville and Beebe’s Tunnell Cancer Center, and mentoring in schools.
“We have reading partners in all of the schools,” Sunderlin said. “There are retired teachers who are members, and they love getting involved in that. We have a road clean-up on Route 1.
“I truly love every minute. We have a wonderful board, and we all have the same goal,” said Sunderlin, a Fort Washington, Pa., native who has lived in Dagsboro for nine years.
Throughout the community, the club has a good reputation, and members are proud to be part of it.
Their dedication extends to the community, Salamone said.
“The fact that it’s been in existence for 85 years now says a lot about the caliber of women who have become part of the organization and, through all these decades, have sought out ways they could help different groups in the community and individuals,” Salamone said.
The club, Sunderlin said, started in 1835.
“There was a handful of women, most who lived in the Dagsboro area, that got together and decided to start a little organization that would do community-service projects,” Sunderlin said.
That has grown to 125 members who now meet on the third Monday every month at Cripple Creek to hear a speaker and participate in the business meeting.
“It’s remarkable, because when they started, this was a very sleepy little part of the world,” Salamone said. “Within our immediate community, they have become such a real driving force.”