You may know them from their annual Rigatoni Dinners to benefit the volunteer fire department, or perhaps you’ve shopped at their holiday boutique. Maybe you’ve even donated to their twice-yearly blood drives. Having given in excess of $160,000 to local graduating seniors in the area, and showing no signs of slowing down, Ladies of the Lakes (LOL) is among the best of the best at service with grace and dedication, with a lot of laughter along the way.
“Bernice Vaughn and Toni Allison put out a flyer and the women gathered at the clubhouse to get acquainted and discussed meeting monthly or bimonthly to get things going.”
In the end, they decided to meet monthly. In the beginning there were only about 10 ladies coming regularly, and the dues were one dollar per month. At the time, there were only 165 homes in YLP. The membership grew to 23 ladies quickly, and by July of 1979, there were 65 members.
Nancy Bickley was the first President, elected in April of 1977. During the spring months, several potlucks, an Easter Egg Hunt, and a small Flee Market were held, and a Newcomers’ Committee was formed, along with an Art Group. In 1978, the club created its Bylaws and changed the club name to Ladies of the Lakes (LOL).
One of first projects that the ladies worked on and completed was the establishment of the Library, Jean says. Originally in the upper floor of the clubhouse, it was moved down to the first floor in October of 1992. All materials for the shelves were donated and Tex Vaughn built them. The books were largely donated by property owners.
“The library is still going strong and is maintained by members of LOL and interested community members. One of the amazing benefits of the library is that it contributes money from the sale of its used books to the Scholarship Fund each year. It is a gift to the community in multiple ways.”
In 1978, the club raised money to start a newsletter, Jean explains, so the club had a naming contest. The winning name was YELP. Bob Hall, a property owner who ran a print shop, printed it free of charge and the fundraising dinners paid the postage.
“The paper was very successful and the Association Board, recognizing it as a valuable community asset, began paying the postage so that it could go to all property owners within the community rather than only YLP residents. In June of 1980, the LOL relinquished editorial control of the YELP.”
The Stitchery group started in January of 1980, according to club documents. In 1981, the group donated its first quilt to the club boutique to be raffled for a fundraiser, and it was later donated to the Coarsegold Historical Society/Historic Museum.
“This group is still in existence and continues to donate a quilt each year to be raffled at our annual November Boutique with all funds going to the Scholarship Fund.”
The current president notes that the Fire Auxiliary was first sponsored by the Ladies of the Lakes. Within two to three months it became a separate organization due to country regulations needing its own officers and fundraisers.
“Many members of LOL are active in the leadership of this organization and each year, Ladies of the Lakes hold a Rigatoni dinner in September for the community, with all profits going directly to the Volunteer Fire Department.”
The annual Holiday Boutique was started in 1979 and the first event was coupled with a homes tour and lunch. Only people in the Park had a booth. It continued to grow in scope and in 1985 it was decided to let outside vendors participate in order to provide more variety of goods.
“From our humble beginnings, through 1992, it has been estimated that the club has raised over $35,000 that has been used to enhance the quality of life in Yosemite Lakes Park. Some of the gifts that have been given are still to be seen today in and around our community.”
They have provided the following, however it is not an exhaustive list, Jean says.
Playground equipment for the park on Long Hollow Drive; tables, chairs, and china for the dining room, drapes, an indoor flagpole, smoke ionizers, microwaves, a walk-in refrigerator, coat racks, a stove, mixer, kitchen utensils, a deck repair and carpet, a salad bar, handicap parking signs, mugs, walkie talkies, table cloths, a sound system and much more for the clubhouse; carpeting for the pro shop; a boat dock; a bus stop; multiple donations to the two local grade schools; scholarships to graduating seniors going on to college.
“Our mission is still the same today. Ladies of the Lakes is ‘a women’s club devoted to promoting interests and activities that enhance the quality of life in Yosemite Lakes Park.'”
So, what have they been up to since 1992?
“The majority of our annual events continue to this day. We also have many groups within the club that provide friendship and fun.”
They include Bingo, Mah-Jongg, Bunko, Book Club, Diners Club, and others.
“Over the years we have created a brochure and map to show all of the hiking trails in the park. We also have had a Garden Club, which has now evolved into the current Beautification Committee. This group of hard working ladies have created, hung, and maintained the flower baskets hanging on the back deck of the clubhouse as well as planted and maintained the two planters on the front porch. We also have work groups that help to maintain the plantings in the front yard.”
“These not only support the community but provide lots of fun.”
LOL sponsors two blood drives annually. Speaking for the group, she emphasizes that they are so grateful for all of the community support received in attending and giving donations to these events.
“I suppose the most often question we get asked is, ‘how much money have the Ladies of the Lakes donated to scholarships?’ We believe it would be safe to estimate that we have donated in excess of $160,000. The amounts vary each year but we can guarantee that this cause will continue to be one of our top priorities.”
If you are interested in becoming a member of the club, please contact Jean Cosby at 559-676-8523 or Sue Corcoran at 559-658-7307.
The club has many members who do not live within YLP, though it’s a requirement that Scholarship recipients do live in YLP. Jean and Sue will be happy to answer any questions regarding membership.
“We have also created a website that you can visit, providing dates for our different activities as well as pictures of previous events. We are sure you’ll see some of your friends in these pictures, as well as those below from the album.”
Congratulations on four decades of wonderful community work, Ladies of the Lakes, and many more.
Contributed by Jean L. Cosby, President, Ladies of the Lakes. Thank you, Jean!