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The GFWC Opelousas Women’s Club celebrated Women’s History Month with a program on Thursday evening with special guest Etha Simien Amling.

Guests were invited for a special evening of socialization and learning about the history of the Opelousas Women’s Club, held in the very building which was funded by the OWC as the first public library in Opelousas. OWC President Sarah Branton welcomed members and new guests as they came, sharing the history of the club and its origin. A collection of some of the original scrapbooks by early members of the OWC were displayed for viewing documenting the achievements made by the club’s members through the decades.

The History of the OPW

The OWC was initially formed in 1915 as a sewing circle comprised of 13 women. In 1918 the club became federated, joining the international organization General Federation of Women’s Clubs that is 80,000 members strong. The Opelousas Women’s Club is comprised of volunteers committed to the betterment of their community and making positive movements through service.

Here’s an early look at some of the ways the OWC has contributed to their communities through time:

In 1942 the OWC collected “nylons” to be sent to the federal government for soldiers to use as powder bags during the war.

In 1944 the OWC began selling War Bonds, raising funds to purchase a Bomber. With over $300,000 in bonds sold, the club was able to purchase a bomber which was named Miss Opelousas. Following this achievement was the crowing of the very first Miss Opelousas in a beauty pageant.

In 1946 the club set to build the first public in Opelousas, which was opened on February 15, 1949 and was the only library in St. Landry Parish until 1964 when the state library established a library program for St. Landry Parish.

The OWC was petitioned to help pass the vote which created the Ward One Hospital District; ultimately resulting in what is now OGHS.

The OWC has carried on the legacy of supporting local causes in the community as well as nationally and globally over its 100+ years in existence by making contributions, supporting community projects, volunteering service and making donations. Some of those causes which the club has supported include the March of Dimes, Relay for Life, the New Life Center Women’s Shelter and the list goes on. This year’s spotlight project is supporting the Opelousas Pregnancy Center.

Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

This was the National Theme this year for Women’s History Month. Local historian Etha Amling was asked to present as the guest speaker for the evening. Mrs. Amling who is the vice-president of the Imperial St. Landry Genealogical Society took guests on an interesting journey as she shared her personal stories and the history of accomplished women of color in Opelousas.

She brought photographs along with the ad clippings of their accomplishments for guests to view, offering a glimpse at the lives of the strong-willed women who set to make history.

Mrs. Amling enjoyed sharing her passion about history, her ancestors and the adversity women faced in those early times. You can hear her knowledge on history as she takes guests on tours of the historic Michel Prudhomme Plantation, where she recently provided a tour to French students visiting Opelousas.