East Hartford Women’s Club stresses friendship, service and unity

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., May. 31, 2013
(L-r) Leslie Apostalon, Bette Daraskevich, Bev Leone and Betty Russell, all members of the EHWC, at the American Mural Project in Winsted in 2011. Photo courtesy of Leslie Apostalon. - Contributed Photo

Friendship, service and unity - that is the motto of the East Hartford Women’s Club, and since 1954 its members have lived those qualities while selflessly serving their community. The club is just under 100 members strong and meets once a month from September through May – with the exception of January – at Veterans Memorial Clubhouse.

The group is very active and requires all of its members to participate, which they all do. The club has a number of projects that members can take part in, including two major projects each year. 

One of the staple projects for the club each year is a scholarship fundraiser held at Marco Polo. This event raises money for scholarships for high school students from East Hartford, but not necessarily attending high school in town. Students who attend Cheney Tech and East Catholic High School in Manchester can be considered, as well as students that attend the IB Academy, Synergy and East Hartford High School. The club also awards a scholarship to a student from Goodwin College.

The other big project is the veterans' “oasis” at Manchester Community College. “The Women’s Club of Connecticut decided years ago that one of their projects would be to put an oasis in each one of the community colleges and UConn,” said East Hartford Women’s Club member and District Six Director Leslie Apostalon.

The oasis at MCC is located in its own room that is furnished with a refrigerator, a couch, a television and several computers. There is also a separate little room for counseling.

“One of the things that we thought was necessary is that these guys have shot and been shot at, and they don’t need to be in with 18-year-old kids who are coming from high school worrying about prom,” explained Apostalon. The EHWC also supports the veterans at MCC on a monthly basis by providing pastries and sandwiches for their monthly meetings. 

Around the time of Veterans Day last year, MCC dedicated some of the flags on campus and the EHWC placed a bunch of smaller American flags around the flag poles. A member of the EHWC since 1970, Apostalon said placing the flags around the flag poles at MCC was one of her most favorite memories from the club.

“They’re so grateful to us, the veterans there,” said Apostalon. “These are kids who are 23-years-old, they've already served maybe two terms in Afghanistan and they’re so happy and interested in going to school. What more could you ask for?”

Apostalon said the state women’s club also works with veterans as part of their collaborative effort with a group called Applied Behavioral Rehabilitation Institute, or ABRI for short. This project focuses on assisting homeless veterans. 

The group is also very active around Christmas time with a number of projects, including the tree of light where they solicit names and donations for the East Hartford Interfaith Ministries to help people in need. They also collect toys for children in town during the holiday season and they send gifts to veterans at the veterans' home in Rocky Hill.

Members of the EHWC also read to children at Langford School and do a lot of knitting for cancer patients or newborn babies. The club also collects mittens and hats for children attending East Hartford schools.

Apostalon said she benefits personally from the fact that she is contributing to her community and also through the friendship of the women of the club. Friendship, service and unity is not just a motto, but a way of life for members of the East Hartford Women’s Club.

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