Grapevine chamber group keeps civic focus

Since its inception in 1965, the Women's Division of the Grapevine Chamber of Commerce has made it a priority to enhance the city of Grapevine through various service projects.

From making sandwiches to sell at the boat races on Lake Grapevine in 1965 to providing school supplies and backpacks for schoolchildren this month at the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District Back To School Fair, member Clydene Johnson said it has always been the organization's mission to promote the advancement of the civic, industrial, commercial and educational interests of the city of Grapevine.

The fair, which originated in the 1980s, is an event that allows the group to partner with several other organizations to provide backpacks filled with school supplies to children in grade school who are financially disadvantaged as well as give them an opportunity to talk to various organizations, Women's Division Chairwoman Casey Hege said.

"When the original problem was brought to light in the '80s, nobody was helping," she said. "Kids were going to school and getting embarrassed for not having school supplies, and the Women's Division wanted to do somethingabout that."

The money raised by the group to provide the school supplies primarily comes from their two annual fundraisers, the Great Taste of Grapevine and the Holiday Hoedown.

The devotion to supporting the school system dates back to the group's establishment, when members decided to pick one teacher from the school district and honor him or her as the teacher of the year. Since then, that honor has been organized through the school district to uniform guidelines so that the winner will be eligible for state and national recognition.

The Teacher of the Year Award is just one of the projects the organization has started that have been taken over by other groups, Johnson said.

In 1974 the division published a reference directory that listed churches, officials, businesses and organizations that was later used to form the current chamber directory, Johnson said. The Women's Division also started the New Teacher's Luncheon and the Giant Treasure and Trash Sale, which Johnson said was the forerunner to GrapeFest.

In 1996, the group held its first annual Great Taste of Grapevine, sponsored by the city, at the convention center. Having outgrown the center, it is now held at the DFW Lakes Hilton as one of the group's stand-alone fundraisers.

Hege said in order to join the group, a prospective member must be dedicated to serving the Grapevine community and have outstanding ethical and moral character. Candidates must also fill out an application, which is available online on the chamber's website. Dues are $40 for chamber members and $90 for nonbusiness members per year.

"We welcome all new members, especially those esteemed citizens who are willing to put the time and effort into giving back to the community," she said.

Members will also be expected to attend monthly luncheons at which members discuss the club's business as well as hear informative talks from a guest speaker or highlights from sponsors. The meetings are normally held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the Stacy's Furniture Community Room, located on the third floor. For more information, contact Hege at 817-865-1801 or [email protected].

Women's Division projects throughout the community

  • Great Taste of Grapevine—Typically held in April, this event allows the community to sample food from more than 25 area restaurants and taste wine and local craft beer. There is also entertainment, a scavenger hunt, People's Choice restaurant selection and awards.

  • School supplies—Each year in August the division provides school supply packs for local K–12 schoolchildren determined by GRACE to be in need. This project serves about 1,200 students annually.

  • Festival Beer Babes—The organization helps with beer booths at Mainstreet Days and GrapeFest Festival. Money raised helps with the organization'soverall expenses.

  • Holiday Charity Event (Now the Holiday Hoedown)—Started in 1975 as the Anniversary Ball, it consists of dinner, dancing, a raffle and an auction that is used as a fundraiser for the Christmas Spirit program.

  • Christmas Spirit—The wishes of GRACE's senior and disabled clients are disseminated through a "Wish Tree" and the community is encouraged to make those wishes come true. Along with the gifts, members and volunteers personally deliver the presents to the recipients.

  • Woman of the Year award—This is an award that recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself through outstanding involvement benefiting the community of Grapevine. The nomination may recognize service from any past years or the current year. The nominee must live or work in Grapevine or be a member of the Women's Division.