105 Years Young
Forget everything you think you know about the Neptunian Woman’s Club. We take a fresh look at Manhattan Beach’s first community group.
Most South Bay residents are familiar with the Neptunian Woman’s Club (NWC), either from their historic clubhouse that has played host to countless events for 90 years or from the NWC volunteers—perennial favorites gift-wrapping at the Village Mall each holiday season. Ironically too few realize the vital role the club plays in the community. Indeed the club’s roots pre-date the founding of Manhattan Beach, and the city would likely be quite different if not for the NWC, the community’s original philanthropic and community club.
Founded in 1909 by a group of women determined to improve the quality of local life and see Manhattan Beach become an incorporated city, the Neptunian Woman’s Club was an integral force in the city’s early formation. Their efforts led to founding the first school and school district, forming the first fire and police departments, opening the first local public library, and even organizing the area’s first Boy Scout troop. Perhaps most extraordinary, while these women worked tirelessly to shape the future of their city, they had not yet achieved the right to vote.
Fortuitously the Neptunian Woman’s Club founding members had the foresight to invest in their own permanent clubhouse. In 1917 they purchased a lot at 10th Street and Highland for slightly more than $500. WWI delayed construction, but in 1924 the original clubhouse was completed. In the mid-‘50s the south section was added.
On average the members of the Neptunian Woman’s Club donate 25,000+ hours of volunteer time to the community annually. Beyond the generosity of their personal time, the club puts on four major fundraising events each year, along with multiple smaller fundraisers throughout the year.
The Neptunian Woman’s Club supports several local charities with financial gifts, yet their most significant philanthropic support is primarily directed at giving need-based scholarships to Mira Costa and El Camino College students. This year the club will award eight scholarships to Mira Costa students in academics, music and art, and five scholarships to El Camino students in disciplines including science, business, police services and nursing.
Beyond their generous scholarship program, in the past year the NWC held a blood drive for the Red Cross; adopted 30 families for Cheer for Children; gave in-kind donations to Clothes the Deal, USO, Los Angeles Air Force Spouses’ Club, Community’s Child and 1736 Family Crisis Center; donated more than 900 pounds of groceries to Project Needs; provided blankets for Miller Children’s Hospital; and recently gave the Manhattan Beach Firefighters Association $12,700 for Paramedic Training Scholarships.
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments for the Neptunian Woman’s Club is the renaissance in membership they are enjoying. In 2005 membership had dipped to 60. A new president and a dynamic board began focusing on camaraderie, in turn attracting a vibrant group of women to its ranks.
Club membership is now 250, and it’s anticipated to reach 300 by year’s end. The club offers something for everyone, from monthly speaker lunches to hiking, gardening, tennis and book clubs. Members are encouraged to participate as little or as much as they choose. There is no pressure, just friendship, community and a steadfast desire to help others.
The Neptunian Woman’s Club will hold their annual Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon at the NWC clubhouse on Saturday, April 26. The event will feature Trina Turk, Bella Beach, Fresh Produce and Macy’s, with the lunch sponsored by Darren’s Restaurant. For information and tickets, call 310-374-9473 or visit neptunians.org.