• 77°

New exchange club crosses gender line

A group of civic-minded Brookhaven women have evoked the powerof the sisterhood and formed their own charitable organization tojoin in the fight against child abuse.

The Noon Exchange Club of Brookhaven came into existenceofficially on July 1 at its charter banquet and is now organizingand recruiting new members – of both sexes – after attempts toallow women into the Brookhaven Exchange Club wereunsuccessful.

“They didn’t want ladies in their club,” said Noon Exchange ClubPresident Nora Brown, who has driven to Monticello to participatein that town’s club activities for six years, of the original club.”So, we just decided to start a new club. This one has men andwomen.”

Brown’s husband, Alvin Brown – a Mississippi Exchange Clubdistrict director over five clubs in the area – had gone to theBrookhaven Exchange Club to request that his wife and other womenbe allowed to join. He said his requests were defeated by avote.

“You have a few of the old hands that still believe it’s agentlemen’s club and they want to keep it that way,” he said. “Ihave no quarrel about that. I have several close friends in thereand I respect their viewpoints, but it just seems like some of themare a little outdated as far as accepting lady folk into theirclub.”

Brookhaven Exchange Club President Lynn Boyte said the voteagainst allowing women to join the club was a vote founded solelyon the club’s 61-year-old tradition.

“We’ve got nothing against women – good Lord, we couldn’t donothing without ’em,” he said. “We have a say so for any newmember. Some people liked the idea, some didn’t.”

Boyte said the formation of a second exchange club in Brookhavenhas not caused bad blood, however. In fact, the Brookhaven ExchangeClub sponsored the Noon Exchange Club in its bid to join thenational group and paid the $500 fee, and it also provided the newclub with a ceremonial bell to call meetings to order.

“We’re gonna do all we can to help them with their club,” Boytesaid.

Noon Exchange Club Treasurer Becky Morgan said the participationof women in exchange clubs is by no means a new idea. She recalledthe Exchangettes, a once-active group of exchange club members’wives who worked alongside their husbands in club activities.

Morgan said the noon club hopes to rekindle that tradition byparticipating in the Brookhaven Exchange Club’s annual Golden Deedsbanquet. Noon club members will also be helping with this week’sannual Exchange Club Fair in an unofficial capacity.

The noon club’s other activities will be geared toward meetingthe same ends as other clubs – promoting awareness about childabuse and providing funds to several child abuse preventionorganizations.

Morgan said the noon club will also work to promote Americanismby distributing flags, encouraging voting and promoting pride andrespect for flag and country.

Really, Morgan said, the only thing different about the noonclub is the women. Of the club’s 24 members recruited thus far, 18are female.

“We are looking to grow the club with a lot more members,” shesaid. “We really encourage anyone who would like to become a memberto please do so. It’s a good club, and it promotes some goodcauses.”

Morgan said interested people of either sex may join the NoonExchange Club of Brookhaven by attending the club’s bimonthlymeetings, which are held at noon on the first and third Thursdaysof each month at Rusty’s restaurant. Membership dues are $200 peryear or $25 per month.

The club’s first fundraiser is currently under way. Chances arebeing sold on a painting of a Magnolia, which is on display atTrustmark’s Brookway Boulevard location. Chances are $2 each orthree for $5. The painting will be given away on Sept. 1.