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Ocean Beach Woman’s Club celebrates Women’s History Month and 98 years of community service

The Ocean Beach Woman's Club celebrated Valentine's Day this year with a brunch.
(Courtesy of Susan Winkie)

The Ocean Beach Woman’s Club has a motto, “Making Waves Since 1924.” This refers to OB as a beach town, of course. But the phrase further points to the volunteer community service the organization has performed across nearly a century.

The club plans more programs as it approaches its centennial in two years.

March is annually designated as Women’s History Month, and OBWC is celebrating its own history as well as looking to its future.

Susan Winkie, a club member since 2016, said it is beginning to resume service emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These two years away were a sore spot,” Winkie said. “We found it much harder to stay cohesive.”

The OBWC clubhouse is at the corner of Muir and Bacon streets. The club owns the building and property and rents out the facility to help with upkeep costs. But with gatherings largely shut down the past two pandemic years, there is much deferred maintenance, said Winkie, who added that the clubhouse needs new roofing, floors, exterior paint and upgraded restrooms.

“The Ocean Beach Woman’s Club is a treasure worth preserving,” she said. “This is an incredible community of women.”

OBWC’s first meeting notes date to Nov. 24, 1924. Its purpose was set as “an organization of women ... which will look after the best civic, education and social interests of Ocean Beach.”

The club hosts monthly meetings at which members recite the club’s pledge, “We, the women of the Ocean Beach Woman’s Club, will honor each other with friendship, community, fun and philanthropy, in the spirit of sisterhood today and always.”

During the COVID lockdown, however, the club couldn’t gather in person, and instead meetings were conducted online. “We ... suffered the same Zoom fatigue as everyone else,” Winkie said. “We also have not been able to provide our yearly grants to local 501(c) organizations, which is at the core of our purpose.”

Among the community service projects OBWC has been involved in are support for the Ocean Beach Library, local lifeguards, tree planting, community gardening and landscaping, and other philanthropy. The club also holds book and craft nights.

On a historical note, OBWC set up a Service Men’s Club for locally stationed military personnel during World War II.

The Woman’s Club met Dec. 7, 1941, and learned of the Pearl Harbor attack that day. At a meeting Dec. 11, club members were informed that troops from San Luis Obispo were guarding San Diego’s waterfront but had no place for bathing or hot coffee for their night watches.

The Service Men’s Club was established on Abbott Street, open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

The Ocean Beach Woman's Club set up a Service Men’s Club for locally stationed military personnel during World War II.
The Ocean Beach Woman’s Club set up a Service Men’s Club for locally stationed military personnel during World War II.
(Courtesy of Susan Winkie)

OBWC further supported women entering the workplace in “Rosie the Riveter” roles.

In 1997, a fire nearly destroyed the clubhouse.

In-person activities are resuming at the club gradually. The first big post-COVID event this year was a Valentine’s Day brunch.

The next major event on the OBWC calendar is its hat contest the evening of Thursday, April 7. The event, hosted by Dirty Birds restaurant of Ocean Beach, is free and open to the public. Winners will be declared for hats dubbed Most OBcean, Most Original and the Most Nostalgic “Ode to Mae” (in honor of longtime OBWC member and gardener Mae Clark).

For more information about the Ocean Beach Woman’s Club, visit oceanbeachwomansclub.org or call (619) 222-1008.


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