The history of Village Republican Women is a long and lively one. Begun by a group of women who sought to affect the politics of their day, we have grown to be one of the largest Republican women’s clubs in the Houston area. The 14 original members of our club wanted to impact far more than just the environs of their beloved Memorial Villages.
The Texas Federation of Republican Women (TFRW) was formed in 1955. But at that time in Harris County, only loosely structured precinct organizations existed. The purpose of those groups was to assist the precinct chairman with voter registration, identifying Republican voters and fundraising on behalf of the Party. The original name of our organization was the Precinct 273 Republican Women’s Club (RWC) and our first President was Gerry Hardway.
The fourteen original members of the club were hardworking, dedicated women. You had to be if you were a Republican in the overwhelmingly Democratic state that Texas was at the time. At the end of its first year, membership had doubled and the club’s emphasis was on recruiting conservative Democrats to the Republican Party.
By the early 1960s, a movement was underway to bring these precinct organizations into the TFRW. In March of 1961, the bylaws of Precinct 273 RWC were read and its goals established. Officers were elected at the April meeting and the club was officially chartered as a member of TFRW. It was then that our name was changed to Village Republican Women (VRW).
In June of 1962, the Harris County Council of Federated Republican Women was formed. Gerry Hardway, charter member of the Precinct 273 RWC, served as the first President of this newly formed council. This group is still in existence today and is known as the Greater Houston Council of Federated Women (GHC). It serves as an umbrella organization for close to 40 Republican Women’s clubs in the greater Houston area.
The primary work of those first precinct organizations continues yet today. Voter registration efforts have long been emphasized within our club. We’ve gone door-to-door and even set up tables at shopping centers and neighborhood festivals all in an effort to register new voters.
We support Republican candidates with thousands of volunteer hours. We have stuffed bags with campaign literature, hosted candidate forums, staffed telephone banks, held coffees, block walked, assisted in Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaigns, bought billboard and radio ads all in an effort to promote Republican causes. We routinely encourage our members to contact their elected officials concerning the pressing issues facing our country, state and community.
Fundraising also continues to be an important function within our club. The very first fundraising effort undertaken by VRW was selling poll taxes. The club received 8 cents for each one sold! An electric typewriter was promptly purchased for the county G.O.P. headquarters. There have been barbecues, tamale parties, silent auctions, dinner/dances, garage sales and even a VRW Cookbook, all to help support Republican candidates.
However, we are not just about politics. Our members also reach out to the community on a continuing basis. Literacy has been our primary focus for a number of years. The club has assisted in the Reading Is Fundamental program in S.B.I.S.D., Reach Out and Read, as well as the Dictionary Project sponsored by the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW).
In the past you could have found members sewing receiving blankets and clothing for the babies of new mothers at the Florence Crittenton Home. We’ve even partnered with a local grocery store chain to participate in Cancer Awareness Weeks, sponsored teams in the Race for the Cure, collected and distributed books and magazines to hospitals and retirement homes, helped renovate a building the Boy Scouts used for meetings and gotten involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Houston.
Our members hold a special place in their hearts for the men and women of our armed services. We have proudly contributed to the Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Uplink and Operation Interdependence, just to name a few. We often put together “care” packages for troops stationed overseas.
We have had excellent leadership over the years. Our club has produced one President of TFRW, one 1st Vice President and one Treasurer. Three of our members have been President of GHC. We also have a member who was selected as one of the “Ten Outstanding Republican Women” at the 2005 TFRW convention.