Laurie Wexel has been president of the Lilburn Woman's Club since February. With all that the club does, that sounds like a full-time position in itself, but her day job is selling nutritional products and taking care of her prodigious family. She took the time this week to talk with Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch about the goings-on and plans of one of Lilburn's most important organizations.
Patch: The Lilburn Woman's Club just raised more than $9,000 for the American Cancer Society in the Lilburn Relay Rally. What's next on the club's agenda?
Wexel: What’s up next is this Thursday night (tonight), we have our scholarship tea. We give a $1,000 scholarship to a local female high school student, and we give two $500 scholarships to Gwinnett Tech to single moms who are trying to learn a vocation to be able to get a job and support their family. And this year we’re also awarding the Patti Jo Shapiro scholarships, one for $1,000 and one for $750. Our art department has an arts scholarship to award a local student, and we'll also be recognizing our Citizen of the Year. So, it's a special night for the Lilburn Woman's Club.
This Saturday, we’re hosting a dinner for Gwinnett County foster parents, through the Department of Family and Children Services. We’re actually going to be serving about 85 different foster parents, serving them dinner and treating them for a night.
In the fall we will host our 39th Lilburn Daze Arts and Crafts festival. This is our most important project of the whole year, as this is how we fund all our projects in the community. So you can see we’re a busy group of ladies.
Patch: I've heard more than a few people say that if you want to get anything done in Lilburn, you've got to have the Woman's Club on your side. What do you think of that?
Wexel: I wouldn’t say it that way, but we do have the reputation of being the "get ‘er done girls." If you need something done, we know how to do it. We know how to rally the troops, and we know how to make things happen. If it’s going to help Lilburn, we’re all over it. It’s not so much as being on your side, but rather we’re here to help Lilburn. And we especially enjoy our great working relationship with the city of Lilburn.
Patch: For those of us who don't belong to the Woman's Club, can you talk a little bit about your mission and what you do?
Wexel: The Lilburn Woman’s Club is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, which is the largest international women’s organization in the world. In the GFWC there are six programs of work: art, education, home life, public issues, conservation and international.
By no means is the following description of each program complete but it will give you an idea of what we do. The arts program has an art show every year for local schools, and it does things like helping to pay instrument rental fees for kids who can't afford them and host painting classes. The education department works with mentoring and partnering with libraries and some of the schools.
Home life works with the Lilburn Co-Op, the Dream House for Medically Fragile Children; it works to educate women about health and finance issues, for example. We partner with the National Osteoporosis Foundation, Easter Seals, different organizations where we put our time and monies. In June we are hosting a dance at the Hi-Hope center in Lawrenceville for adults with developmental disabilities.
Public handles issues such as public safety, keeping the club apprised of legislative issues, support for our troops, things like that. We have helped put on the Veteran’s Day program. I have a son in Afghanistan, and they just decided to adopt his unit, which is working on an agriculture project, so they can send care packages over there.
The conservation program was instrumental in Lilburn becoming a Tree City. They did a lot of the work in front of city hall and on the Greenway Trail. The Healing Garden in the city park was another project.
The international program partners with organizations like Heifer International. Last year we bought a water buffalo. Right now we’ve been collecting money, buying gaggles of geese. In some countries, geese are wonderful because they provide meat, eggs and are natural predators for snakes, which in turn keep their villages safer. Often times they end up setting up cottage industries with them.
We’re very invested in bettering Lilburn in any way we can.
Our motto is community concern. And our mission would be to operate as excellently as we can in our six areas of work in our communities and in the world.
Patch: What's your favorite thing about Lilburn?
Wexel: The community feel. I can’t go to the grocery store without bumping into friends and acquaintances and having these awesome conversations. Just that community, hometown feel.
Patch: How do you envision Lilburn five years from now?
Wexel: I would love to see a vibrant, lively downtown, all kinds of shops, stuff like that. People utilizing the park more and trails more. I would love to see more community and family events in the park that actually get the community out and participating. I love what the city is doing, the plans for the extension of the Greenway Trail, and the whole overlay of what they have planned. When they pull all that together, that’s just going to accentuate so much more, the hometown feel.