Congratulations are in order for The League City Garden Club, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.
Members of the club, which was founded in 1949, have planned a variety of events to mark this major milestone.
The club is a good example of the nongovernmental civic groups that do so much good with very little fanfare in communities all over the world.
The League City Garden Club’s lists of contributions to the quality of life in what has become the county’s biggest city is impressive.
In the 1970s, the group began soliciting donations to rebuild a bandstand in League Park, which eventually became the one that stands today, Lisa Lofaro, club secretary, said.
The first bandstand had been lost in the 1900 Storm and the second one fell into extreme disrepair.
In 1985, the group started raising money for scholarships. In addition to the work raising money for scholarships and the bandstand, the garden club helped create Helen’s Garden, a lushly landscaped city park at 701 Main St., and has planted hundreds of trees during its existence, Lofaro said.
“I’ve been asking people to name the first three things they think of when they hear the name League City and, almost always, it’s the oak trees on Main Street, the bandstand in League Park and Helen’s Garden,” Lofaro said.
“Those are all three of our projects. Without the garden club, I don’t know what this city would have been like today.”
What would any community be like without groups such as the garden club and volunteers who make them run? They probably wouldn’t be communities at all.
Through all the massive growth, the city’s garden club members have dedicated themselves to preserving the local character and raising money for other worthy causes, such as scholarships, said Linda Garren-McKillip, president of the club.
Members we interviewed noted how much the physical landscape of League City had changed in the 70 years since the club formed, but there also is a measure in the club’s history of how much the social landscape has changed.
“When you think back to when the club started 70 years ago, most husbands were busy in commerce and the government, leaving the wives to figure out their place in the community,” Garren-McKillip said.
“They had as much power and drive as the husbands, and used it as a way to improve the city.”
But the women in the club were somewhat anonymous back then, going by the names of their husbands, Lofaro said.
The group is still mostly women, although some men have joined. The women of the League City Garden Club do their good work under their own names these days.
The club, as with others like it, also serves as an incubator for, and reservoir of, the civic instinct that drives people to make their communities better.
Civic clubs also cultivate people such as Lofaro, who summed the point up nicely.
“You can’t buy heritage,” Lofaro said. “You can’t buy history and old things — we need to preserve our heritage. If you take out the trees and parks, we are a city of subdivisions. The trees in our parks are our identity.”
People who understand that and are willing to act on that understanding are definitely worth celebrating.
• Michael A. Smith