In 1883, the Village Improvement Association of Green Cove Springs, FL was formed from 18 women’s groups. By 1891, the Housekeeper’s Club of Coconut Grove, FL had formed. On February 21, 1895, the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs (FFWC) was formed. In 1898 the General Federation of Women’s Clubs accepted the Florida Federation as a state federation.
GFWC Florida has a rich history of making an impact in communities across our state. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, clubwomen worked diligently to create and support traveling libraries, assist the Seminole Indians and protect Florida’s roadways by ensuring farmers put cows behind fences. In 1904 GFWC Florida clubwomen helped found Royal Palm Park, which is now known as the Everglades. They received a grant to help pay the salary of the forest ranger.
GFWC clubwomen worked to ensure the passage of the Child Labor bill, Compulsory Education bill, and Fire Protection for Schools bill. During the Great Depression, clubwomen across the state of Florida continued to sponsor libraries, help with school problems and assist with welfare work.
During World War II, GFWC clubwomen assisted with war bonds to help purchase bombers and planted victory gardens. Members also sewed for the Red Cross and collected wedding dresses for brides before their loved ones went off to war. Across the country, GFWC clubwomen helped pass legislation for seatbelts.
In 1956 a permanent GFWC Florida headquarters was completed in Lakeland, FL. This building is debt-free and houses GFWC Florida history, trophies, archives and historical art work.
In the last several decades, GFWC Florida clubwomen have worked tirelessly to promote domestic violence awareness, support foster children, plant forests across the state through a “Pennies for Pines” program, support youth leadership development through the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program, promote child abuse awareness and prevention, build parks for handicapped children, educate children on the importance of energy conservation, promote mental health awareness, support our nation’s wounded warriors through “Canines for Independence” and support cleft palate and cleft lip surgeries in developing countries.
As former GFWC Florida and GFWC President Jeannine Faubion wrote, “The history of the state would be incomplete without the immeasurable contributions of the thousands of [GFWC] club members, state officers and chairmen whose vision of a better community and state has been made into a reality by their untiring, unselfish work through the years…The gifts of service which they have freely given helped to make Florida what it is today.”