Neptunians Rising

The oldest women’s organization in the South Bay gets a new clubhouse, thanks to the help of some local friends.

Founded in 1909 by 10 women hoping to positively impact their community, the Neptunian Woman’s Club of Manhattan Beach (NWC) was a driving force in the formation of the city. Women could not yet cast a ballot in a national election, let alone a local one. Yet this group of tenacious women is responsible for Manhattan Beach’s first library, first school and first Boy Scout troop, among other noteworthy achievements.

For decades the group has gathered at the historic clubhouse on Highland Avenue, known for its colorful tile mural on the exterior. In the late ‘50s the Neptunians also added the south hall. “NWC is able to maintain the existing clubhouse and make repairs based solely on funds raised by member dues and clubhouse rentals,” says co-president Margaret Alvarez.

All the money raised for philanthropy goes to philanthropy. Over the years—while keeping up with needed repairs including a new roof, new plumbing and dual heaters—the building began to look every bit its age. The decision was made by the NWC board to embark on the path of renovation. “The purpose of increasing rentals is to increase our scholarship program and philanthropic giving in our community,” shares Margaret.

 

NICE DIGS | Rendering of new clubhouse.

 

In 2014 restaurant owner Mike Simms saw the inside of the NWC clubhouse for the first time. A loyal donor to their fundraising events, The Simms Group had developed a friendship and supportive partnership with NWC for several years.

Mike walked in, said the place was “cool” and thought it needed a commercial-grade kitchen to create more rentals for events and off-site catering. Within a few weeks Mike agreed to design and fund the kitchen. He says, “It was right thing to do for the community as well as the nonprofit.”

Jeri Martin, a Neptunian associate, with the help of her brother-in-law, John Atkinson, brought architect Michael Lee to the NWC. In a very short time he created the renderings and construction drawings, submitted plans and filed the permit to the city.

“Michael Lee Architects has in essence adopted The Neptunians by donating all architectural services to date,” says co-president Suzanne Sharer, who is also heading the building fund campaign.

In February 2015 the group had its first fundraiser for associates and an internal
raise for the remodel project. Steve Napolitano, at the time senior deputy to Supervisor Don Knabe, donated $15,000 to the renovation project because of the Neptunian Woman’s Club’s historical importance in the formation of Manhattan Beach and as a philanthropic nonprofit leader.

“Currently averaging 15 rentals a year, the new space should easily exceed that,” says Laura Fischer, director of communications. “We project that we will be able to provide an additional scholarship each time the clubhouse is rented.”

Last fall a team of volunteers developed a new website and rebranded the NWC with a new logo and a fresh perspective. The number of new associates increases steadily as women become more familiar with the organization, their work in the community and their mission to raise money for scholarships and to support child-centered causes in the South Bay. Boasting a membership of women whose ages span from 28 to 100, several generations of Neptunians can now look forward to a new clubhouse to serve them—and the community at large—for future decades.

To learn more about the project, visit neptunianwc.org.

 

 

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