Girls Inc of Jackson County is now located at 956 N. O'Brien Street in Seymour, Indiana. The new building was opened in 2008 complete with classrooms, a conference room, an industrial kitchen, a large dining area with a concessions stand, a playground, a basketball gym, and a gymnastics gym. The circular drive allows busses to drop off girls safely at the door where they are scanned into the system for attendance.
Our Current Building
Below are photos of the former Second Street building:
Concessions at the Old Building
A HISTORY OF THE GIRLS CLUB OF JACKSONCOUNTY
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” might very properly be the motto of the Girls Club of Jackson County. It was through a bequest that the Seymour Girls Club had its beginning, and with a bequest that our modern facility was remodeled and enlarged.
Upon the death of Mr. Wilbur Pfaffenberger in 1939, it was found that his will contained a bequest to the “YMCA” and the “YWCA.” Mr. Pfaffenberger’s will also contained a statement that he wanted “a generous share of his assets to be used for the betterment of the young boys and girls of Seymour.” Because there were no “Y’s” in Seymour, a group of local businessmen were named to serve on the Pfaffenberger Estate Board, which was formed to protect the inheritance and to administer the assets of the estate. The Pfaffenberger estate consisted mostly of real estate and a small amount of money. The will was contested, set aside and later a compromise was reached with other heirs.
In 1942, after all legal difficulties were resolved, the Boys Club was established above the Hook’s Drug Store on Chestnut Street and the Girls Club received the Pfaffenberger home at 432 N. Chestnut Street (SE corner at 5th and Chestnut) for use as a clubhouse.
Earlier efforts toward an organized program of recreation for the girls of Seymour had been made by the City Board of Recreation, but had been limited, for the most part, to a supervised recreational activity program in GaiserPark. With the acquisition of a home, the City Recreation Board appointed a subcommittee to initiate and develop a program for girls in the community. The committee undertook the task of determining what should be the function of a girls club, its financial needs, how funds could be secured, what alterations and repairs the house would require, and who should act as director of the club. With the registration of 71 young ladies as charter members, the Girls Club was officially in business. Miss Doris Finch was employed as the first executive director. Her salary was $20 monthly and the use of an apartment in the clubhouse. Miss Finch’s plan of an activity based program with volunteer leaders has persisted throughout the club’s history.
During the first year of operation of the Seymour Girls Club, a governing board was set up. The board was made up of the club director; the city librarian; two members of the Pfaffenberger Estate Board of Directors; and representatives from a number of sororities, P.T.A.’s, and service organizations. This group was called the Advisory Board. Mrs. George Laupus served as the first president of this board. The club continued to operate with the same kind of governing body, along with some additional representations from other organizations until 1961. At that time, in view of the need for a more stable and cohesive governing body, in event of a building program, the by-laws were rewritten to reduce the size of the board and to set up a procedure by which the board membership would rotate.
In the spring of 1943, the first Achievement Night Program was presented to family members, friends, and the public. This event was an award and activity presentation to display the accomplishments of members and volunteers. The awards were based on activity points earned during the year for class attendance, interest, discipline, and improvement. Skills learned were shown in the needlework, crafts, cooking, and other items on display. Entertainment at this first achievement night was presented by the Dramatics Club and the Girls Club Chorus.
In the beginning, these achievement night programs were held in the clubhouse, but were later moved to the Girls Gym at ShieldsHigh School, as they grew larger. In 1951, these programs became known as the annual Girls Club Dance Revue. The dance revue eventually was held at the Seymour High School Auditorium when the cast size soared to more than 200, with more than 15 acts and an audience that usually filled the auditorium.
In 1944, the original clubhouse was heavily damaged by fire. However, with strong support from all elements of the community, Girls Club activities continued almost without interruption. As evidence of the broad support, some classes met three evenings a week at the Boys Club, while others met at ShieldsHigh School and the old FirstBaptistChurch. The social dance and instrumental classes were held at the private home of Mr. and Mrs. L. H. VanVoorhies.
The Girls Club movement continued to expand across the country. In 1945, the national organization named “Girls Clubs of America, Inc.” was formed. After a reorganization of the local governing structure to meet national guidelines, another rotating board of directors was named. The Seymour Girls Club was incorporated in the State of Indiana on September 21, 1955. On October 17, 1955, the local club affiliated with the national organization.
In 1957, in order to strengthen the growing Girls Club movement, member clubs of the National organization were divided into nine regions of the country. The Seymour Club was in the, then, five-state Region II. Region II was later renamed the Midwest Region, which consists of twelve Girls Clubs – three in Michigan and nine in Indiana. The Indiana clubs are now located in Seymour, Columbus, Shelbyville, Franklin, Madison, Bloomington, Bedford, and two in Indianapolis. Each Region elects a Regional Chairman that also serves on the National Board by virtue of her office. Mrs. A. W. (Sylvia) Osipe was the first chairman of Region II and served in that capacity for eight years. Other Regional Chairmen from Seymour have been Mrs. Joe (Nancy) Erp, and Mrs. Tom (Dana) Bollinger. These three local ladies served on the National Board, as did Mrs. Alf (Dora) Reynolds.
As an affiliate of Girls Clubs of America, local Girls Club members are eligible to participate in the Awards Program sponsored by the National organization. The most prominent contests are Career Key, Citizenship, Sewing, Poetry, Creative Writing, and Greeting Cards. Entries are judged locally, on the Regional level, and then nationally. Each regional Career Key winner receives a scholarship to the college of her choice. The Seymour Girls Club has an outstanding record of accomplishments in these contests. The local records are as follows:
Regional Career Key Winner in 1969, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 80
Regional Beg. Sewing Winner in 1976
Regional Int. Sewing Winner in 1976
Regional Citizenship Winner in 1971, 73, 74, 78
Regional Greeting Card Winner in 1978, 79, 80
Regional Creative Writing Winner in 1978, 79, 80
Regional Poetry Winner in 1975, 79
National Career Key Winner in 1969 (Cindi Speckner)
National Citizenship Winner in 1971 (Jill Henderson)
National Poetry Winner in 1979 (Sue Hinton)
Outstanding Girls Club in Region II – 1974, 1977
The citizens of the Seymour area had long realized the need for a new Girls Club. The previous structure became inadequate for a girls club shortly after its operations began in 1942.
Realizing the urgent need and community benefits derived from the services of the Girls Club, the Seymour Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) accepted the challenge. In March of 1965, the Jaycees launched a fund drive, called “Operation Overload” for $98,000. In July, a check was presented to the Girls Club Board of Directors and a dream became a reality. A lovely new clubhouse was ready for occupancy by the summer of 1966.
The building was dedicated on October 30, 1966. The roomy new building allowed for a larger variety of classes and an increased membership. Baton, ballet, tap, cheerleading, tumbling, cooking, sewing, and crafts classes continued as popular choices. Personality Club (P.C.) was the most successful program ever offered to teenage members. P.C. was first offered in the early 40’s when Girls Club was formed. This program grew rapidly; therefore, membership was open to girls in grades 9 – 12. Each class had its own officers and planned their individual class projects. Representatives from each class were chosen to be members of the interclub council, which also elected its own officers and served as the governing body of P.C. The president of interclub council was the reigning P.C. officer. P.C. members did volunteer work in the Girls Club, sponsored special events for the younger girls, and took part in community service projects. The social event of the year for Girls Club teenagers was the P.C. dance held annually during Christmas vacation. The new building, with its multi-purpose room, was an ideal place to hold their dances, P.C. Mother-Daughter Style Show – Teas, banquets, and initiations. With a greater participation of girls in sports and related activities, membership in P.C. dwindled and the program was discontinued in the mid 70’s.
The Girls Club program depends heavily on volunteers. On September 21, 1970, a Women’s Council was organized by Nancy Erp, then Board President, as one of the goals for her term of office. Women’s Council is a group of dedicated women who teach classes; supervise at special events; furnish refreshments for mini-shows, slumber parties, etc.; oversee refreshments at the annual end of summer picnic; and donate equipment to the club where needed. It was members of the Women’s Council who designed and did all the art work on the beautiful wall mural in the lounge. Close inspection of the mural will show much Girls Club symbolism incorporated into the designs. Dozens of hours were volunteered to this project completed in 1982.
In 1972, the Jaycees donated a used 48-passenger bus to the club for use to
transport girls to special events and other daily classes after school. In time, the Girls Club offered programming in basketball, volleyball, biddy-basketball (for 1st, 2nd, and
3rd grades with lowered goals), tennis, and softball. Because of the increased demand for girl’s team sports education, Elsie Brooks was added to the staff as the first Athletic Director in 1975.
Originally, the Girls Club program year was divided into semesters. Classes that performed in the dance revue lasted all year. Other classes were for a semester only with another sign up for second semester. There was also a Summer Session offered. The most successful summer class offered is swimming. The swim classes are held at the City Pool and are Red Cross approved with certified advanced life saving teachers, with their supervisor being a Certified Water Safety Instructor.
In the 70’s, the program format was changed to fall, winter, spring, and summer sessions having four registration periods. Two mini-shows a year were held.
In 1978, the outdoor recreational area was developed in the rear of the club. There are two black-topped tennis courts, a basketball court, and a softball diamond with back stop and benches. The Sertoma Club furnished the drawings, filed plans and specifications for state and local approval, and then donated all labor and materials for the outdoor shelter.
In 1979, a new 21-passenger bus was purchased to replace the old bus. Bus pickup was scheduled at least twice a week at each local school, with 3 days a week at schools with high enrollments. Later the schedule was altered to allow pickup at schools in Cortland and Sauers one day per week. Also in 1979, a satellite program was started in Crothersville one afternoon per week. In 1980, a satellite program was also offered at Brownstown one day a week.
In order to show that our services are available to all girls in grades 1-12 in JacksonCounty, the Seymour Girls Club name was officially changed to Girls Club of Jackson County, Inc. in June of 1982.
In October, 1977, Ramon Milam, a retired local farmer died leaving a large amount of money to the Girls Club. No one knows why the Girls Club was included in his will, which was written in 1968, because he had no children and was never inside the Girls Club. His lawyer explained that Mr. Milam wanted to do something for the community and was given several options with the Girls Club being chosen. Whatever the reason, the club is eternally grateful. The inheritance was used to enlarge and remodel the original building. A large recreation room with a pool table, a lounge area, and a jukebox; a new storage/plaster-of-paris paint room; new offices; and a concession area were added. The new addition was dedicated September 21, 1980.
The present building offers space for a large variety of programming. An improved drop-in attendance has been noted with a wider choice of recreational areas.
In the fall of 1982, one Saturday special event a month with a theme was planned in order to improve Saturday attendance. These were later known as Super Saturdays. Attendance at these Super Saturdays averaged 80-125. Bus transportation was provided to the county schools on Super Saturdays.
There are some annual events that have become tradition at the Girls Club. For years, the Tri Kappa Sorority has sponsored a yearly Christmas tree-trimming party with program supervision and refreshments furnished by the sorority.
An Awards Banquet is held every spring to honor all the girls and adults who have volunteered in any way at the club. This is a very special evening with special awards presented to volunteers and an outstanding girl volunteer of the year is named. Most years the Board of Directors presents a Distinguished Service Award to a Special Girls Club advocate and an Outstanding Women’s Council volunteer is sometimes named.
On March 8, 1983, Paula Joy Weber, executive director, designated the first Pauline McDougal Day as our way of celebrating National Women’s History Week. Pauline McDougal had been a paid staff member at the Girls Club since September 1967. She first volunteered at the original club as a housemother in 1953. She was a member of the board of directors in 1965-67, serving as board secretary one year. Mrs. McDougal was hired as assistant director in September of 1967. She was club bookkeeper in 1967-70, regional secretary treasurer in 1967-70, and editor of the Regional Newsletter in 1960-70. She was named program director and received the Distinguished Service Award in 1977. This day, which is accompanied by much publicity, refreshments, and gifts, etc., is a way of recognizing her involvement in the history of the club.
National Girls Club Week is celebrated annually beginning on Mother’s Day Sunday. Special events are scheduled during the week to commemorate the beginning of Girls Clubs in America.
The primary source of funding for the Girls Club is United Fund. Costs to the members are kept to a bare minimum. No girl is ever denied membership or participation in any Girls Club activity because of lack of funds. Provisions are made to absorb any costs a member cannot afford.
As volunteers are the back bone of the Girls Club success, programming at the Girls Club would be almost impossible without the scores of volunteers who have come to our aid since the beginning of our organization. Teenagers, Women’s Council, Board Members, civic organizations, and other community volunteers have played an important part in the Girls Club’s success story. Their work and the work of all our dedicated supporters has helped to make the Girls Club an effective and satisfying experience for hundreds of Jackson County girls for more than forty years.