Clique Club reaches out to those in need across county

December 04, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Clique Club members, Tanya Ortiz, left, Gerald Crawley, Lola Mosby, Eliud Ortiz and Cecelia Crawley talk about a Christmas concert they are planning to attend during a recent club meeting.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

There were formal dinners, dances and masquerade balls.

The old photographs of those events can still make Cecelia Crawley smile.

But the social club that was formed by a group of friends back in the early 1990s was more than fun get-togethers.

It was about reaching out to those in need throughout Washington County.

"We wanted to undertake projects that would enhance the quality of life in Hagerstown," Crawley recalled. "We all wanted to be a part of a club that could give back to the community."

So members delivered turkeys to needy families at Thanksgiving and collected Christmas gifts for Toys for Tots. They developed a scholarship fund, sponsored a children's pool party and supported local charities.

They were the Clique Club— formed by eight couples who had become the best of friends.

The group all worshipped at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, had similar interests and enjoyed spending time together.

The couples were so inseparable, some people referred to them as a clique.

The description came in handy when they decided to form a social club.

Though the name sounds exclusive, nothing was further from the truth, said Lola Mosby of Halfway, one of the original members.

"We welcomed everybody," she said.

The club was a way for people to come together for fellowship, members noted. And there were a lot of good times.

"We even went away to other organizations' events," Crawley, who lives in Williamsport, said. "We went as far as Cleveland, Ohio; Virginia and Georgia."

But the group's main purpose was about helping others in their own backyard.

Shortly after it organized, the club began taking dues and holding fundraisers in an effort to reach out to those in need.

Members also supported their church and special events in the community.

One of the projects that made them most proud was the donation of a plaque honoring the late Charles E. Hodges, principal at North Street School. The plaque is mounted at the former school, now the site of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

Club members credit the late Bill Mason, the group's president for more than a decade, with making the group so successful.

Through the church and as a policeman, he knew the community, had contacts and knew how to get things done, they said.

But as members got older or passed away, dwindling membership brought an end to the club.

Its good works, however, were never forgotten.

Tanya Crawley Ortiz, daughter of original club members Gerald and Cecelia Crawley, said she still remembers her parents getting dressed up for the formal dinners and dances.

She also remembers what an asset the club was to the community.

Ortiz said she began to see a need for such a pro-active group in today's economy.

So, in 2009, she tested the waters to see whether people might be interested in reviving the club and continuing the good work it was known for.

The response was positive and before long, the Clique Club was back in business.

Ortiz, who resides in Falling Waters, W.Va., said the club "is similar to the old club but with a new perspective in accordance to a more modern time."

And though this is a newer version of the original club, the current members have enlisted the support of some of those who were organizers decades ago. Ortiz said the group includes five of the original members.

The club has also stayed true to the original goal, making a difference in the community.

Ortiz said the club currently is offering financial assistance to graduating high school students in the Washington County area by sponsoring a scholarship fundraiser.

There are several ways interested persons can help, Ortiz said. The first is by making a donation to the Clique Club Scholarship Fund at Columbia Bank on Virginia Avenue.

Ortiz said the club also plans on helping a needy child during the Christmas season.

But, just like the original club, there also are the fun aspects,

"This summer, club members and guests took a day trip to Atlantic City. "We are also going to see a Christmas play in December as a group. In addition, we are planning and gathering information on having a dinner affair that may be similar to previous dinner dances given by the Clique Club," Ortiz said.

A pot luck dinner usually follows the club meetings on the third Saturday of the month. And for special holidays, such as Christmas, "we pick one of the local restaurants to have a combination meeting and dinner," Ortiz noted.

Club members said they would love to see the group continue to grow and are always looking for more people to come on board.

To learn more ...

Persons interested in joining the Clique Club or receiving more information should contact Cecelia Crawley, president, at 301-582-3209; or Tanya Ortiz, vice president, at 240-409-8888.

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