Desoto Women’s Civic Club

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Desoto Women’s club is 52 years old, marking over a century of service and support to its members and the surrounding community. Current president Betty Deriso outlined some of the club’s history.
“We started in June 25th, 1972, at the home of the founder Miss Dorothy Hamilton. Miss Georgia Deriso and Miss Addie Cutts are two of the only original members that are still here with us.”
The club started when several women, a couple of them new mothers, saw the need to come together to support each other. Older members provided guidance and direction.
The club’s motto is “lifting as we climb.” Original member Georgia Deriso explained how living out the motto expressed the shared hope of the club.
“Letting women know you don’t have to go through what you are going through alone. We’re here to help you. We’ve been there. If you haven’t been there, you are going to go there.”
Early meetings of the club were from house to house, though recently meetings have been conducted virtually due to COVID. The club has a long history of engagement in its community, and still offers scholarships to students in need. Betty Deriso recounts past activities the club supported, including the Little League Team.
“We bought uniforms for those young kids, back in the day. We did things with the boy scouts. Robert Morgan had the boy scouts, and we were able to support him and his efforts.”
She added they adopt a family every Christmas.
“Every Christmas we adopt a family that has children who are in need and we support them. One person may go out and shop for them or we give them the monetary donation to help them to go on.”
She also mentioned that the club once had statewide affiliation.
“And at one point we were a member of the Georgia National Federation of Colored Women’s Club. We’ve been Statewide, and we’ve been county wide. I think that we were in the Georgia Federation years on top of years.”
Deriso detailed the scholarship program.
“We just put the word out in the community that we are giving a scholarship for any deserving student who is going to college. We give it after they have enrolled in college, then they have to have a recommendation from the school saying that they are enrolled and then we give them financial support to help them. It’s not the whole thing of tuition or anything of that nature, but it’s something to help them along the way.”
Betty Deriso talked about Thanksgiving dinners the club provided for the senior citizens in the community.
“Most of the time those dinners would be at the Leslie Civics Center. We would rent the building, and invite them all to come in, and just have a nice program for them, and feed them.”
Georgia Deriso talked about what it was like hosting the seniors.
“When you take time to put your hands on it yourself, you’re showing that much love, that much kindness. We could have paid somebody, but we would rather do it ourselves. We want to come ourselves to help somebody else. And if we can do it, you can do it too.”
Jacqueline King, the youngest member, told how she was inspired to join the club from an early age, appreciating their matching outfits.
“I used to see them dressing up, and they would have different events.”
She talked about the community the club provided.
“I wanted to join because they [were] doing so much in the community and just to have a sisterhood. I’m grateful to be a part of these awesome women.”
Georgia Deriso summarized the driving philosophy behind the club.
“Just trying to keep our community activated. We just want our community to go. We just gonna push every child we can to help them go to school. We don’t want nobody to stay where they are. If they come in contact with us, they are going to climb.”