What's Up with WAHHI?

The Lowcountry's Largest Women's Club

Did you know there is a women's group in the Lowcountry that is fun, has no fundraisers, yet makes a huge impact our community? It is the Women's Association of Hilton Head Island (WAHHI), an organization that has been around since 1961, and has had literally thousands of women, all working for a common goal, come and go through it's membership. What began as seven women, who convened to beautify the Coligny Beach Circle, has now grown to more than 550 members 53 years later.

With all the success this group has achieved, it's amazing some women still have no idea this group exists. With hundreds of members you can bet that it's a diverse group. There is a wide range of ages, as well as women from all over the world. It's a large group that has power to do good, and yet still has fellowship. In fact, one of the aspects of the organization that brings women together is the 38 interests groups, which members can join. These groups offer categories such as books, the arts, gardening, cooking, saving money, sports, flower arranging, travel, pottery, movies, women's issues, and so much more. Sue Todd, the organization's secretary, explained, "The interest groups are a way to expand friendships and meet new people. You can learn, re-learn or just go have fun!"

Charlotte Willis, who is now VP of Events, joined WAHHI specifically to go back to tap dance lessons. While it no longer exists, Charlotte enjoyed the tap dancing group for many years, but also found that she really enjoyed being a member of the organization, too.

While the interests groups have various meeting schedules, the WAHHI organization only meets four times a year. Each meeting is a lovely sit-down luncheon, always with interesting programs that can vary from fashion shows to book authors to entertainment to motivational talks.

The first volunteer activity this year will be to serve as greeters and docents on the Island from September 30th through October 5th during the Heritage Library's 350/30 event that will commemorate the 350th anniversary of the sighting of Hilton Head and the 30th anniversary of the founding of the town. In addition, the Women's Association recently provided funding to the Town of Hilton Head for 28 Kiosk Pathway Maps. Members also donated gifts to the Children's Center and the Children's Relief Fund, and through their Youth Community Service Awards program, the club awarded $8,000 in scholarships to local deserving high school seniors, who donated exceptional amounts of time to area service organizations.

Now is the time to join WAHHI, as September 18 is the first meeting, which starts the new year, with Judith Tyler serving as President. According to Judith, WAHHI sponsors informational gatherings throughout the year to provide an opportunity for newcomers to learn about the organization, make new friends, and consider membership. With annual dues of only $30, membership is open to residents who live on Hilton Head Island out to Island West in Bluffton.

It's amazing what this group has done and the impact they have made over the past 53 years. It's hard to look around and not see the heart, soul, and diligence of this organization. Did you know that an early WAHHI interest group spawned the Heritage Library Foundation? The Women's Association was also once the main distributor of news on Hilton Head Island.  Some of the WAHHI members typed up a sheet with Island news and distributed it. The first informal Island newsletter was published in January 1965.  By 1967, the Island Bulletin was being produced and distributed weekly and mailed to subscribers for $3.50 a year.  A new interest group that year to facilitate the task was called Reporters. When The Island Packet came to town and replaced the bulletin in July 1970, The Packet's first customers were the 362 newsletter subscribers on WAHHI's mailing list. These are just a few examples of the how this club moves and shakes.

With an exciting year ahead, it's never been a better time to get involved in WAHHI. The leadership is excited about all the members, projects, and programs for the ensuing year; and of course, they are always happy to welcome new members, too. WAHHI is like a "one stop shop" when it comes to women's groups. This organization offers great opportunity to get involved and truly has something for everyone.

To attend the next informational gathering, which will be held on September 11, contact Mary at 843-715-9770. To learn more about the club, log onto wahhi.com.

The first meeting will be held on September 18 at the Sonesta Resort in Shipyard Plantation. You must be a member or guest of a member to attend. Reservations are required. Interest group sign-up will be from 10 a.m. to noon. Social hour starts at 11 a.m. and the luncheon begins at noon. The program will feature Elizabeth Millen, Founder and Publisher of Pink Magazine.

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