Good Cheer Club still making a difference after 93 years

Recently I met many of the members of the Good Cheer Club at their semi-annual fundraising garage sale. I noted with great interest a poster that they had on display describing the formation of this unique club in 1922 and the fact that 93 years later the Good Cheer Club is still active and trying to make our community a better place for everyone.

The dedicated members of the club in attendance at the garage sale were Ann Hoyer (50 year member), Sylvia Cooney, Ethel Rhodes, Patricia Soles, Nancy Tosoff, Janet Rhodes, Brenda Pearson, Margret Sarauer, Diane Belado, Joan Crowe, Judy Gunderson and Debbie Leyen.

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Other members of the club that were not able to assist at the garage sale that day were Joan Boutin, Marian Van Caeseele, Lee Adams and Dorothy Turick.

Originally membership was restricted to 20 members however; today they prefer the membership to not exceed 18 so that they can continue to have a close knit group.

Membership is currently at 16 members due to the passing away of 62 year member Ellen Adams and 25 year member Marian Mummery. Bea Dezell (deceased) was also a lifetime member and a wonderful friend to everyone in the club.

After chatting with the Good Cheer Club ladies I learned that they are deeply proud of the history of their club and their accomplishments over the past 93 years.

They are proud of the legacy of their history that has been passed down from one generation to another, from one period of time in the 1920s to the present period of time here in 2015, and from the looks of things there is no intended end in sight.

The founding members of the club were Mrs. Buchannan, Mrs. Stevens and Mrs. Hunter.

It was considered proper etiquette back then to address one another by Mrs. or Miss so no first names were recorded.

The founding members called the first meeting 93 years ago, the club was organized and formed and the rest is history.

The Good Cheer Club of today is an interconnection across 93 years of time because of these great Prince George community-minded women who wanted to give back to the community.

Ann Hoyer said, "I will never forget the day when Mrs. Florence Moffat announced that she wouldn't be able to attend club meetings and events any longer due to age and health concerns. Mrs. Moffat told us that we owed it to those that went before us to carry on with the club so that is exactly what we did. The purpose of the Good Cheer Club is and always has been 'to bring good cheer wherever and whenever possible in the community' - the very same focus that the club started out with in 1922."

The details of the history of the Good Cheer Club and the minutes of all their meetings over the past nine decades are housed at the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre.

Here are a few highlights from the notes of the club's early history:

During their first few years back in the 1920s the Good Cheer Club raised enough money to make a donation to the local hospital to assist in the purchase of a much needed X-ray machine. Club members spent many afternoons making pillow slips and mending linens for the hospital as well as digging potatoes and donating other vegetables from their gardens to the hospital to help towards feeding the patients.

A favorite charity of the club was the "Pink School," later known as Central Fort George School. Their early minutes indicate donations of sandwiches for school picnics and gallons of ice cream for the children on their last day of school.

One notation from June 1930 shows that it was decided to give the teacher $3 with the instructions to see that each small child was to get ten cents in prize money at a particular event. Candy bags were supplied for a Christmas party; each bag contained candy, nuts, an orange and an apple. These bags were given to every child in the community over the age of two years.

The total cost for 70 children was $22.50.

At the same time a food hamper was sent to a needy family that included a chicken for a total sum of $15. This is not a huge sum of money in our day and age but it certainly was a lot of money back then.

The Good Cheer Club ladies worked hard together to raise the money and felt good about how they decided to spend it for the community.

In 1922 the members were 20 young women who were busy raising their families but they still had time for their community.

Today many of the members are seniors who are moving a bit slower, but they are still raising funds with all proceeds going to local charities because they still care about their community.

The position of club president has been co-chaired by Ann Hoyer and Ethel Rhodes for the past 30 years.

Ann said, "There have been many memorable events over the years but I always remembered the story told about young Harold Moffat. Harold was just a school boy back then and he was quoted as saying 'When I came home from school I always knew when it was the day of the Good Cheer Club meeting. It was my job to go and collect the chairs from various homes and move them to the home of the meeting place.' The Good Cheer ladies watched him grow up, get married, start a family and become the mayor of our city. We all still reflect back to stories like that in our history. Family after family raised great children who stayed here in Prince George to make it the great city that it is today."

The hospital was and continues to be a regular benefactor of the Good Cheer Club with many donations being made over the years of equipment or funds to go towards the purchase of equipment. The members of the club still do fundraisers to fund a nursing bursary at the College of New Caledonia and they maintain an endowment fund with the Prince George Community Foundation.

They hold two garage sales a year with all proceeds going to local charities.

Ann said, "Our club has been an active club for the past 93 years and we fully intend to keep going. We aren't big and we can't do really big things. But I still maintain that big things come in small packages."

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