CLINTON — The Wa-tan-ye Club started in March 1924. Every year during the week of March 10, Wa-tan-ye Week is celebrated. Several years ago members started baking cookies that week and gave them to some group in appreciation. It started with the police, sheriff, firemen and this year they chose the teachers at Bluff, Whittier, Eagle Heights, Jefferson and Camanche elementary schools.

The Clinton service club will celebrate its 85th birthday from 10 a.m. to noon May 16 with a friendship brunch in the Fireside Room of First United Methodist Church, on the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Third Street.

Missy Otto is president of the Clinton club with Joan Borota, vice president; Ellen Cooley, secretary, Pat Milder, treasurer, Dorothea Mohr, parliamentarian. Board members include: Kim Limond, Ellen Ketelsen, Sue Raaymakers and Dee Hewer with Julie Ramirez as immediate past president.

When Wa-tan-ye started in 1924 it was made up of two women from each profession including teachers, reporters, secretaries, business store owners, cooks, waitresses, beauticians, librarians, lawyers, doctors, florists, nurses and later it was opened to all women who were either employed or formerly employed.

At the association convention last October, Ramirez was elected president of the association. She has been a member of the Clinton Club since 1991. She will preside at the district meeting in Albert Lea, Minn., on April 4; Cherokee on April 18; and Stockton, Ill., April 25. She will be accompanied by two former association presidents, Jeanette Petersen, who is now historian, and Marsha Smith who is treasurer. Janice Spooner recently retired as District Six director and Linda North of the Fulton, Ill., Wa-tan-ye was elected. They will be planning the convention, which will be in Clinton, during the weekend of Oct. 9, 10 and 11. Ramirez is the sixth president from Clinton.

Wa-tan-ye has libraries as its national project and recently gave each of the following libraries $100 for books: Morrison (Ill.) High School; Jefferson Elementary, Mason City; Forest Ridge/Gruver, Estherville; Clinton Public Library, Clinton; Stockton Public Library; Fulton Elementary; Osage Public Library; Lime Springs Public Library, Cresco; Manson Public Library; and Cherokee Public Library.

For many years Wa-tan-ye has given scholarships to a non-traditional student attending Clinton Community College and about five years ago started to give $250 scholarships to seniors in high school going to college. One of the requirements is that they are a son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter of a Clinton Wa-tan-yan.

The Clinton club has Riverboat Days pass sales as its main fundraiser, along with decorating Modern Woodman in Rock Island, Ill., before Christmas, selling Rada products and having a cookie walk in December.

Groups that benefit from the non-profit group are: Gateway After Prom Party, Animal Birth Control, Associate Benevolent Society, Caring Tree, the Felix Adler Children's Discovery Center, Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, River City Art Center, Clinton Historical Society, Clinton Humane Society, Clinton Symphony Orchestra, Soaring Eagle Nature Center, Easter Seal Run, ice cream cones monthly to nursing homes; Information Referral and Assistance Service, Shut-In Remembrance, Med Tree, Mardi Gras Association, Partners for Exceptional People, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way and Women’s Resource Center.

Wa-tan-ye is a service organization that is similar to Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions clubs. It meets at noon during the first and third Tuesday of the month at the Corner Deli and Ice Cream Shoppe and at noon during the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor. The last Tuesday of every month is an evening business meeting and dinner at various churches.

Members of Wa-tan-ye work at the River City Art Center every Wednesday afternoon and give out free ice cream cones one Saturday a month to residents, guests and staff at the Alverno Health Care Facility, Eagle Point Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Mercy North and Mercy South Extended Care Centers and Community Care in Charlotte.