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Clique Club Reaches Out to Community

Clique Club Reaches Out to Community
by Pat Fridgen

What do you call a snooty group of high school girls? Or a narrow exclusive circle of people held together by a presumed identity of interests, views, or purposes?
You got it. A clique. While the term 'clique' generally conjures negative images of groups who want to shut people out, the Clique Club of Hagerstown is quite the opposite. This is a group with heart, and a group with open doors.
"We're not like those other cliques," says President Eluid Ortiz.
The Club is comprised of thirteen Hagerstown and Williamsport residents who have a lot in common in their everyday lives. Twenty years ago the original members crossed paths in church, developed friendships, and generally hung out together. In March 1993 they decided to put their energies together for a worthy cause, to benefit the greater good of the community they loved--Hagerstown and Washington County. So they formed the Clique Club.
"Our first projects were donating to a scholarship fund and giving away turkeys at Thanksgiving," says Lela Greene.
In the dozen years since, a wide variety of organizations and people have benefited from the generous acts of the Clique Club. These include the NAACP Scholarship Fund, Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, Len Mosby's Fund, Memorial Recreation Splash Party for Kids, Toys for Tots, Hagerstown Bouncers, as well as helping with the Christmas party for inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution and delivering and handing out Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for needy families.
The Club has also supported endeavors that have personal significance. "My principal at North Street School was the late Charles E. Hodges. We had a plaque made for him," says Louise Brown. The plaque is mounted at the former school, now the site of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, located at 131 West North Avenue.
"We also paid for the Martin Luther King lettering on the building," she added.
Club members raise money through their dues, sponsoring banquets and dances, and hosting raffles, among other activities. Businesses donate items such as dinners and movie tickets.
"It's a lot of work," admits Ortiz. "Each member is committed to so many tickets."
But work doesn't deter these people, because they have so much fun in the process. "I like the people that invited me in," says Stan Brown, Sr. "Anything we do as a club, I like."
Toni Gaines concurs. "I'm probably the newest member. I like the direction they're going in."
Tanya Crawley, 32, is a generation younger than her cohorts, but that doesn't stop her from participating. "I grew up surrounded by this," she says. "I once went to a masquerade ball which I really enjoyed." When she came of age, she joined. She likes the fellowship of the Clique, plus "it's for a good cause."
Meetings are far from boring. The group meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at a different local restaurant. The members partake of fellowship and good food, and then discus the next projects. In December they set goals for the coming year and elect officers.
Founding members Herbert and Lola Mosby continue to be active in the Club. Lola is currently financial secretary. Her twin sister Lela Greene also helped the group get off the ground. Other officers are Stan Brown, Sr., vice president; Cecelia Crawley, secretary; and Tanya Crawley, treasurer.
Bill Mason was the first president and remained so for nearly 17 years. Unfortunately, he passed away early December of this year, but is still held in high regard by the Club members. He was honored at a banquet last year for his many years of leadership.
Clique Club Causes
Charles E. Hodges Scholarship Fund- Who was Charles Hodges? "He was a black school principal during segregation in Hagerstown," says Tanya Crawley. "He was very active in all facets of community life, focusing his efforts on having black people develop pride in themselves and in their community."
He worked at the North Street School, which was built in 1888 and provided the first secondary education of African Americans in Washington County. This was also the location of an all-black YMCA before integration. It had several additions and is adjacent to the Memorial Recreation Center.
Hodges coached the North Street basketball team to five state championships. He helped form the Tri-State Union, a black high school basketball conference. "He had love for his school and he served in more church, community, and school offices and functions than can be recorded," states Crawley.
Toys for Tots- Robert McCulloch is the new chairman of Toys for Tots in Washington County. The program appreciates all donations from groups and individuals. "It's all about the children who need to know that there are people out there that know they exist, and want to help at this time of the year. It fills my heart with so much joy to see a child receive something for Christmas," says McCulloch. The deadline for donating toys has passed, but people may still send checks to Toys for Tots, 77 Woodstock Road, Fayetteville, PA 17222. The money will make for a happier holiday for children through the ages of 17. In 2004, the local organization served 2,500 children, and expects that number to grow in the future. The US Marine Corps Reserve started this national project.
Maryland Correctional Institution Inmates- MCI is a medium security prison for men. Construction started in the early 1930s and was completed in 1942. Labor was provided by the inmates themselves. The facility is located on Roxbury Road south of Hagerstown. It currently houses 2,000 convicted felons. Kandi Mills coordinates volunteer services at 240-420-1325.
Clique Club Members- The Clique Club wishes to enhance the quality of life in Hagerstown and Washington County. The Club is actively seeking new members. Interested folk may call Tanya Crawley at 240-409-8888. Also, donations for the Charles E. Hodges Scholarship Fund are most welcome and may be sent to The Clique Club, Inc., PO Box 497, Hagerstown, MD 21741.

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