A Woman’s Work
Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Desert Foothills Woman’s Club
There’s something unexplainably beautiful about friendships among women, and for many of us, the older and wiser we grow, the more important sisterhood becomes in our lives.
Actress and director Phylicia Rashad once quipped, “Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.”
Each month in the North Valley, women are proving those words true. Through friendships and laughter, the 90 or so members of Desert Foothills Woman’s Club are empowering each other—and a new generation of young women—to learn, connect and live life to its fullest.
“When my husband and I moved here from Illinois, I met a neighbor who introduced me to the Desert Foothills Woman’s Club,” said president Robbie Ryan. “I have met so many interesting people here. It’s a diverse but very open group of women.”
Club historian Diane Dollison agreed. “A lot of people seem to come to this area after they retire. It’s a great way to get to know a lot of people if you’re new to the area.”
Desert Foothills Woman’s Club was begun as a social club in 1968. Over time, the women began to raise money for causes they cared about. They’ve donated to countless non-profits and contributed to continuing educational funds for young women graduating from local high schools.
Each second Tuesday of the month from October through May, they meet for lunch at Grayhawk Country Club where they listen to interesting speakers, network and connect with each other.
The topics they discuss inspire the women intellectually and emotionally. Most members are between the ages of 50 and 90, and many have navigated careers, raising families and the very personal struggles women face of defining and redefining themselves through different phases of life. Sharing these experiences and building upon new ones creates a community of feminine support and strength.
Last month, they heard from guest speaker Carla Williams, who was one of hundreds of women who worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline beginning in the 1970s. Williams wrote a book called “Wildcat Women: Narratives of Women Breaking Ground in Alaska’s Oil and Gas Industry.”
“She was very inspiring,” said Ryan. “She was out there at a time when it was almost always men doing their type of work. It was fascinating to hear what she went through.”
This year, in addition to supporting women through activities like lectures, Bunco groups, bridge, ladies’ target shooting, munch and movies, journaling, games, book clubs, mahjong, dinner groups, golf, hiking, painting and more, the women raised about $25,000. About 60% was distributed through young women’s scholarships; the remainder was given to Horses Help, Foothills Food Bank, Cave Creek Museum and Foothills Caring Corps.
Desert Foothills Woman’s Club, named in the singular because it is “for every woman,” is a 501(c)4 organization. Each February, the group holds a dinner and dance with live and silent auctions that raise much of their philanthropic funds. This year’s theme, An Evening in Paris, was a big hit among attendees, who contributed and raised almost $14,000 during the evening.
In December, another silent auction dinner is held, this time featuring items that members have collected from their travels. This, too, is a significant fundraiser for the women.
Most of all, though, Desert Foothills Woman’s Club is about having fun.
“If you’re looking for a fun and interesting group of women, Desert Foothills Woman’s Club is just a great social organization,” said Ryan. “It’s just a fun group. That’s why I joined and why I really like it.”