Club celebrates 90th milestone
If the city of Lansing has a spirit, it might be easiest to find at the meetings of the Lansing Community Club.
There, over fine meals and in the company of family, neighbors and friends, members come together as they have for nearly a century. June 13 marked the 90th anniversary celebration of the club, and like the city itself, LCC's members span generations; some are new to the community, some have established names. But each member shares in a common cause: doing their best for the community - and for each other.
For some, LCC is a link to the heart of the community, a way to connect with a new home and meet new neighbors. The group's current president, Mary Ann Sherley, became familiar with the group soon after she first moved to Lansing.
"When I was a newlywed and came to this community, my husband's family were already established here - he had lived here all of his life," Sherley said. "As a young bride, I came to some of the meetings with my mother-in-law and as we had children, they came with me."
Though she knew of the group for more than 40 years, Sherley didn't become a member until her mother-in-law died in 2002. Although obligations had prevented her from joining in the past, Sherley believed she had a duty to the community.
"After she passed I felt like I needed to be there to represent the family," she said.
It wasn't long before Sherley's duty in the club grew beyond simple representation. In January, Sherley became president of club.
Although she said she was reluctant to take on the role, she understands the legacy that needs to be preserved.
"I need to continue to preserve the memories so that down the road other people can look back and see what we were doing," Sherley said. "Hopefully, they'll be carrying on that standard."
It's hard for Sherley to describe what the legacy means however.
"I don't know that there was a mission per se," she said, " but since 1916 the motto of the club has been, 'The best of ourselves for the community,' and I think all the present-day members - everyone I've ever known through the club - had that goal.
"I think it probably just gives me a better sense of community and the camaraderie that's exhibited here."
Ada Young followed the footsteps of her mother when she joined the LCC in the 1950s. But unlike her mother, Young was not feeling out a new community-she had grown up in Lansing and was intrigued by the history of the club.
"My mother, the first thing she did when she came to the community in 1938 was join the community club," she said. "I joined in the early 1950s and again after I retired.
"There's a lot of history here."
The Lansing Community Club was founded in 1916 as a canning club, and later became a quilting club. Sherley said that the club is one of the oldest women's clubs in the state. In honor of the Club's long legacy of excellence, Mayor Ken Bernard read a proclamation at the 90th birthday celebration pronouncing June 13 as Lansing Community Club Day, and praising the work of members past and present.
The uninterrupted history of the club is one aspect that Young is most fond of. Unlike many women's clubs, the Lansing Community Club has never been on hiatus.
"The neat thing I think is that it's been a continuous club," Young said.
Through her mother, and eventually on her own, Young has found that the relationships that are founded through the club last a lifetime.
"All of us have such a bond," she said. "It goes way back - and it goes down through the generations."
Although the Lansing Community Club has entered its 90th year, its prospects for the future remain bright. Apparently, some things, like the need for friendship and community, don't change - at least for Natalie Stein, 20.
Although Stein is not a member of the LCC, she came to the June 13 celebration to represent her grandmother, Mary Ann Riedinger, and to gather any news that she could share when visiting her grandmother, who now resides in a nursing home. Stein said she has fond memories of being a child at the club.
"When I was younger my grandma used to take me to Community Club on Tuesdays," Stein said. "And I always went because they had the best food."
Stein's appreciation for the club members has developed over the years.
"They've always been great in the community, they always send my grandma cards at the nursing home," Stein said. "I talked to probably 15 people today that said that they go and visit grandma all the time."
Recently, the network of friends that centers at LCC has been responsible for a different interest of Stein's. Her boyfriend, Chris Zule, is the grandson of Evelyn Kimmey, who has known Stein's mother - and grandmother - for years. Stein isn't sure just how much the two grandmothers had in playing matchmakers, but she knows it was a small part.
"Evelyn kept saying (to Zule), 'You know, Natalie's really cute. You ought to go up and see her,'" Stein said. "So Eveyln did have a little to do with that.
"It's the community's next generations being together. It is a cute story."
As for the Lansing Community Club, Stein said she is excited to become a member whenever her schedule frees up. Although she may have to wait for school and work to settle down, she can foresee emulating a certain role model: Evelyn Kimmey.
"I want to be just like her when I get to be that age," Stein said.
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