VISTA — In 1916, a group of women came together in Vista with the mission of helping others through philanthropy and volunteer services. It was 47 years before the city of Vista was even incorporated.
Now 100 years later, the Woman’s Club of Vista remains strong with 34 members who donate thousands of hours and dollars to charities throughout San Diego County.
“We do a lot in the community,” said Nancy Jones, president of the Woman’s Club. “It’s not just money — it’s our hearts and hands. I’m really proud of that.”
In 2015 alone, the members of the club volunteered roughly 5,700 hours at nonprofit organizations such as Alta Vista Gardens, HMLA-369 Squadron at Camp Pendleton, the Women’s Resource Center and at the local schools.
The women also raised and donated $33,000 to 29 charities last year. Some of the charities that received donations include Brother Benno’s, an Oceanside soup kitchen, K-9 Companions and Interfaith Community Services.
The efforts the Woman’s Club make in the community is what drove Fran Jensen, a Vista real estate agent, to join.
“I believe in the old adage that what goes around, comes around,” said Jensen, who has been a member for three years. “It’s very important to give back to the community, and the Woman’s Club is very good about not only giving money, but giving time. Anybody can write a check, but the time and effort is very different.”
Judy Pantazo, vice president of the Woman’s Club, agreed about the importance of giving time.
“It’s always great to have a club where people can get together and socialize,” Pantazo said. “But these people also do good things for the community at the same time. It’s a great feeling to do something good for other people.”
Pantazo, who has been a member for two years, said she’s most proud of the club’s volunteer efforts at the local schools. One recent project was Books for Bobier Elementary School where members collected books after discovering the children had a lack of them to take home.
“They had such few books and they were not the greatest books in the world,” Pantazo said. “We started gathering books from grandkids and neighbors. We ended up giving thousands of books to the children that year.”
The book project has expanded with the Woman’s Club now having 20,000 books to give away. Members are working toward giving the books away to veterans and more children, Pantazo said.
To celebrate its centennial, the Woman’s Club of Vista will expand its scholarship program by awarding two Cal State San Marcos students $1,250 each, Jones said.
The students will be awarded at a centennial celebration on April 17 at Shadowridge Golf Club. The event, titled “Dollars for Scholars” features keynote speaker, Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes.
“We’ve been giving money to students forever,” Jones said. “But this year, we decided to give away more money to more students.”
The mission of giving back is what Pantazo hopes will drive more people to join the Woman’s Club.
“We are a fabulous organization,” Pantazo said. “I think if more people knew what we were doing, they’d join. We need more people to join us.”
For more information about the Woman’s Club of Vista, go to womansclubofvista.org/.
Hoa Quach has 15 years of experience in journalism, garnering multiple awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. She’s been named a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, featured in BuzzFeed during International Women’s Day and recognized by the California Legislature for her work. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.