Twenty years after it was formed to support community causes and each other, the Violet Township Women's League still champions its founding missions.

In the late 1990s, Pickerington and Violet Township had a Welcome Wagon club through which local women reached out to other women who were new to the community to acclimate them and help put down roots.

That is how Janice Powers got involved in the club shortly before it and the larger Welcome Wagon organization dissolved in 1998.

But when the wheels fell off the Wagon, Powers and other members picked up where it left off.

"Pretty much overwhelmingly, everyone wanted to continue the group," Powers said.

"It was all women," she said. "It was more of a social group where people new to the community could meet other people from the community, but then the idea of community service came in."

Enterprising as this group of women was, they decided to form the Violet Township Women's League.

In its first year, 1999, the group sought to continue to include new women in its social circle, but also began to expand activities that now include book clubs, card groups and health and fitness groups.

Additionally, members embraced philanthropy, adopting a family in need that it provided gifts to at Christmas and funded through its inaugural Style Show.

"It just kind of evolved," Powers said. "We wanted to help somebody and that's when the idea of a scholarship program came about."

Now a government-registered nonprofit organization with more than 100 members, the league's Scholarship Luncheon and Style Show has endured as long as the group itself.

In the past 20 years, the league has used revenue from the style show and gift-basket raffles to award 45 scholarships worth a total of $91,000 to Fairfield County college students.

The league meets the fourth Tuesday of each month, May through August in the American Legion Post 283, 7725 Refugee Road, Pickerington. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Each meeting consists of a social time, a brief business meeting and a "fun and/or informative program," that typically features a guest speaker according to the organization's website, vtwl.org.

"The purpose of the Violet Township Women's League is to promote, encourage, advance and support friendship, fellowship and community service," longtime member Linda Fersch said. "The league is to provide an opportunity for members to become acquainted with other women from Pickerington, Violet Township and surrounding areas in the community and neighborhood; to provide an atmosphere of friendliness, goodwill and provided helpful information to league members; and to promote charitable and civic causes either locally or nationally."

Nancy Colegrove got involved in the league roughly five years ago because she hoped to model in the style show.

She quickly was recruited to serve as the group's secretary and is now in her second year as its president.

Colegrove said the organization continues to adopt local families in need and hand out warm clothing and gift cards during the winter and at Christmas. It also donates money to the Pickerington Lions Club, the Pickerington Food Pantry and other causes it finds worthy or in need throughout the year.

The league celebrated its 20th anniversary Sept. 24 and Colegrove said its members are looking to the future. Plans include exploring joint ventures and business sponsorships to further charitable reach and impact.

"We are 100-plus members strong, an extraordinary group of enthusiastic women representing a variety of cultures, backgrounds and ages who are eager to make a difference in the community," Colegrove said. "With individual personalities, skills and talents blending principles of service and volunteerism, the possibilities for future undertakings are endless.

"We plan to keep on doing what we already do: getting better at it every day," she said. "This is a group of women that has kindness and compassion in our DNA. We plan to keep on doing what we already do, which is care for the community and each other."

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