A sisterhood of service
Though the Dorman community center in Welches has come and gone, the group that started it continues to thrive. More than 50 years ago, eight women banded together with the goal to open a community center and formed the Hoodland Women's Club.
"Originally there were separate clubs — the Boosters, the Pow-wowers and the Brightwood Association — and they all used to fundraise for the community center," founding club member Nancy Spencer told The Post. "We were sitting around one day and said 'women could get together and build it.'"
And they did.
Through outreach, fundraising and collaboration with the county, the group was successful in building its dream. When the Dorman center was taken down last year, the club simply expanded its reach into the community through different avenues.
Over the years the club has taken on several projects. Some aimed at creating opportunities for socialization and some that focused on serving the community.
"I joined because of the promise of the community center," said club president Marci Slater. "What also appeals to me about the club is it's not just a group of wealthy women. We all come from different (backgrounds). But all together we can make things happen. It's a way for my money to go further in the community than I could ever do on my own."
A finger in every pie
The collective funds and talents of the now nearly 100-woman group have helped numerous Welches children succeed academically, aided mountain residents in their times of hardship, helped other community organizations like the Hoodland Senior Center further their efforts and much more. Where needs change, so does the focus of the club.
"Our community is not diverse by race necessarily, but it is diverse in socioeconomic status," Slater added. "And now we're especially seeing a shift in demographics to an aging community. That makes the needs change."
Some of the constant efforts for the Hoodland women focus a lot around education. Every year the group hosts a golf tournament, which will take place on Aug. 22 this year, to raise funds for their scholarship program, and the members also operate a Books on the Bus lending library for grade school children.
"That encourages them not only to read on the ride, but at home," Slater noted.
With so many needs and projects in the community, member Linda Corwin said "When I retired I never had the chance to get bored."
Corwin is new to the Hoodland Women's Club, joining in June, but not to the mountain.
"In a nutshell, I raised my kids here, (and) I had a lot of connections, but worked in town so I wanted to really get in touch with the community," Corwin noted. "Everybody's so welcoming and nice. It's nice to get in touch with things again. I'm looking forward to getting my feet wet and seeing what's going on."
Green space for all
Aside from doing regular road cleanup on Salmon River Road, the women's club is also in the midst of a project to create a parks district for the Hoodland area. The club plans to turn the land formerly known as the Dorman Center into a park, after taking the proposal of a parks district to the voters in 2020.
The district would exist within the boundaries of the Hoodland Fire District, spreading from Government Camp to Summertime Road at Alder Creek.
The land designated for the park consists of three parcels of land, all on Salmon River Road, (including) the former Dorman Center (of) 3.97 acres, the five acres on the other side of the Oregon Department of Transportation road gravel storage, and an 11-acre strip beyond Birdie Lane.
"All this land to have in our local control is pretty amazing," committee member Regina Lythgoe told The Post previously. "Like many people on the mountain, I think a lot about that property and its value to the community has so much possibility."
The club has a Memorandum of Understanding with Clackamas County Commissioners, saying the lands will be gifted and deeded to the Park District by Clackamas County. If they don't use it, the county will sell it off.
For now, to achieve their goal of getting the district on the ballot and turned into a reality, the committee members are trying to gather community input and garner support for their effort. The estimated cost to start up the district is about $480,000 or $0.49 per $1,000 of the assessed value of the property taxes within the district.
Besides the measure to create the district, there will also be measures to create a tax base and form a board for the district from qualified candidates.
"We are a small committee trying to do so much," Lythgoe said. "I vision this opportunity for our community to establish something we can all be proud of. This land should be a place that belongs to this community with our local control. This land should not slip through our fingers and be sold off for logging or commercial uses. This park will be a vehicle for our community to grow in providing a sense of identity and cohesiveness. This would be a place to call our own."
For now and into the future, the women's club remains a place of sisterhood and community for all involved — with or without a brick-and-mortar location.
"It's not an exclusive club," Spencer added. "We all kind of live in the woods up here, so it's good to get out to serve the community."
"I joined because I wanted to meet other women in the community and be involved," said member Donna Waltman, who joined in 2004. "I think it's so important to be connected in the community. Some people think all we do is sit around and eat and gossip, but that's not the purpose."
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