Great Falls Friends and Neighbors (GFFN) was formed in 2011 as a result of the merger between the Great Falls Woman’s Club and Newcomers of Great Falls. Both of these two clubs had been active in the area for over 25 years: Great Falls Woman’s Club was founded in 1980 and Newcomers of Great Falls in 1982.
In 2009 both GFWC and Newcomers sponsored booths at the Great Falls Spring Festival. The two club presidents met, chatted, and remarked on all the similarities the clubs shared. Both clubs had a comparable number of members (over 100) and even some crossover in membership. Both had extremely similar missions and social activities for members. Both supported fundraising and were active in the community. And, in addition to these similarities, each club also brought unique strengths that could enhance a merged club. Following the presidents’ meeting, each club’s board of directors discussed the potential benefits of combining the two entities. Both boards agreed that one combined organization made great sense: it would increase the number of volunteers and candidates for leadership roles, increase member participation in events, intensify the impact of community and philanthropic activities, and generally take advantage of economies of scale. A task force was formed to explore the possibility of merging the two organizations. This task force, comprised of three-four members from each club, worked diligently for a year and a half to make the merger happen. Over this timeframe the following women volunteered as task force members: Joan Pifer and Judy Smith, Co-Chairs; Joda Coolidge, Julie Maher, Tina Mather, Maggie Mobley, Barbara Slaybaugh, and Lisa Spoden.
The merged club became official in June 2011, the beginning of a new fiscal year. Club members initiated a contest to arrive at a new club name, and voted for Great Falls Friends and Neighbors. GFFN is now a vibrant organization of roughly 200 active and involved women.
As stated in the bylaws, the purpose of GFFN is to establish and foster an atmosphere in which new and current residents of Great Falls and surrounding communities can develop new friendships and community contacts through social, educational, and cultural activities. In addition, the club provides service, support, and donations to philanthropic and civic organizations, particularly in and close to the Great Falls community.
Programs are a highlight of GFFN. Members explore some of the remarkable local area attractions and history through enriching cultural tours and luncheons. The club offers evolving interest groups such as casual and formal dining, fitness/walking, book groups, bridge, gardening, wine tasting, theatre, dancing, and more. Special events such as family picnics, holiday parties, and champagne brunches also bring members together.
The civic focus of the club is also a cornerstone, and includes participation and sponsorship for community events such as the annual Fourth of July Parade, Poetry Contest for local school students, Halloween Haunted House, Concert in the Park, and others.
The philanthropic endeavors of GFFN highlight the talent, compassion, and dedication of its members. Club philanthropy includes a separately incorporated scholarship fund for disadvantaged women seeking higher education. GFFN members have raised funds for organizations including shelters, outreach programs, women’s programs, camps for underprivileged children, the volunteer fire department, and many more. Fundraising activities have included charity dances, bridge jamborees, sales of White House Ornaments, auctions and raffles.
Great Falls Friends and Neighbors will continue to offer a wide variety of social, cultural, educational, and philanthropic activities for its members. A respected and integral part of the Great Falls community, we remain committed to welcoming women in the area and to being a wonderful organization for having fun, meeting new people, and making great friends. Please join us!