Women’s Club Renews Commitment

Members of the new Women’s Club of Mt. Lebanon executive board are (clockwise from left) Robin Scibek, Nadeana Cook, Caroline Lascek, Bethany Casagranda and Hilary Taylor. /Photo: George Mendel

Mt. Lebanon has many wonderful civic service and social organizations that do amazing work in the community, but they often come with something many people don’t like: meetings and required participation at events.

What if you could have all the benefits of giving back to the community, plus the social perks of meeting new and diverse people, without having to show up at everything all the time or sit in a business meeting listening to conversations about bylaws and dues? If you had a crazy week at work or a sick kid, you could skip an event and no one would give you any grief.

That’s the concept of the Women’s Club of Mt. Lebanon. “We want to be the place women in the South Hills come when they’re looking for a way to serve without the unwieldy requirements of some of the other women’s clubs in the South Hills,” says president Hilary Taylor. The mission is to promote friendship, civic involvement and community outreach in Mt. Lebanon and the surrounding communities. The club will have one event each month and no general membership meetings. And they’ll never take attendance.

Does the name Women’s Club of Mt. Lebanon sound familiar? It should. The similarly named Woman’s Club of Mt. Lebanon started in 1924 and thrived—peaking at 1,400 members—and it had a list of activities a mile long, from presenting a Snowball Dance for high school kids to sponsoring lectures to organizing antique shows at a clubhouse it used to own on Hollycrest Drive. It donated to major municipal projects, from the library to the public safety center, and helped the PTA. But times change; more women started working outside the home and running out of time for Club activities. The club disbanded in 2011 because of dwindling membership.

For the last few years, a group of women involved with the Mt. Lebanon Junior Women’s Club thought about bringing the concept of the Woman’s Club back. Five women-—all former Junior Women’s Club presidents—Bethany Casagranda, Caroline Lascek, Nadeana Cook, Robin Scibek and Hilary Taylor—started making plans early last year, and became the new nonprofit’s executive board. The Woman’s Club of Mt. Lebanon was reborn in September as the Women’s Club of Mt. Lebanon, using the former’s club’s original motto of “Service First.” It already has grown to 33 members.

It was a natural transition for the ladies of the executive board, whose average age is 40. “The five of us especially felt that it was clear our time in Juniors had come to an end,” Taylor says. “We had chaired everything. We felt, frankly, old in the room.”

The Women’s Club has no age or residency requirement. The board members come from all over the South Hills. Lascek called all the former members of the Woman’s Club and invited them to participate in the new group. Former Woman’s Club member Betty Fischer is the new Women’s Club’s oldest member. The new board is quick to point out they are not competing with the Mt. Lebanon Junior Women’s Club and will not poach members. Most important, they say everyone will have time for the Women’s Club, whether you work an 80-hour workweek or have five kids.

As the original club did, the 2.0 version will support community organizations wherever members see a need. Since they are a nonprofit but are not a 501(c)3, federal tax laws allow them to help faith-based organizations and they do not have to avoid politics. “Whatever the members want, we would embrace,” Casagranda says.

Among the groups expected to have the ladies’ support are the Mt. Lebanon Public Library, Family Hospice, South Hills Interfaith Movement, local veterans groups and the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon. That support could be financial or the group could volunteer for events. Every year, the club intends to pick a local gala to attend to support en masse.

Some of the giving would come with social opportunity. Last fall, the women threw a Philanthroparty—a potluck dinner, when 24 ladies in attendance raised $300 for SHIM. The Club will maintain an Angel Fund, and spare dollars collected at events will go into a jar and given to people who need it.

Events on the horizon include a new member mixer, an Academy Awards Party to raise funds to help re-establish the Denis Theatre and a Kentucky Derby Party to benefit postpartum issues and pregnancy loss.

Interested? Reach out to the club at womensclubmtl@gmail.com or go to womensclubmtl.org.