In 1959, a group of twenty American founded the American Women’s Club of Düsseldorf with Eve Boge serving the first President. The inaugural lunch at the Steigenberger Park Hotel cost 7 DM and Membership dues were 20 DM. Members attended monthly luncheons, participated in Bridge and Golf activities, and read the one-page newsletter, the ‘Düsseldorf Digest’. They even had an all-club Thanksgiving dinner! From the beginning, charity was a central focus of the club, and in its first decade, the AWCD held ‘Box Suppers’ and Christmas Balls to raise funds for local charities.
With the large number of American families in the area, the need for more English-speaking classrooms rose. In 1968, AWCD members were instrumental in helping to establish the American International School (now ISD). The club enthusiastically supported the new school and organized a fundraising ball that raised over 90,000 DM for the school’s building fund!
In the 70’s, the AWCD added new activities, such as, its first literature group, culinary groups and the Evening Stammtisch. Held in the Altstadt twice each month, the Stammtisch was open to all English speakers. The Stammtisch tradition, now monthly, continues today.
In the following decade, the club introduced its first baby and children’s playgroups, as well as the Working Woman’s Network, which is today’s Evening Section. The first paid advertisement in the newsletter was printed in 1981. By the mid 80’s, the newsletter had increased in size, added its distinctive logo and been renamed the Radschläger.
In addition to the newsletter, the AWCD has published a cookbook, Discovering Düsseldorf (8 Editions), and the Daytripping book (reprinted in 2013).
Halloween has always been recognized by the AWCD. First with local trick-or-treating, the Halloween party held at ISD, trunk-or-treating, and then the adult Halloween party. Many of these traditions have been discontinued.
The AWCD has been a member of FAWCO (Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas) since 1971. The club has hosted FAWCO Conferences (1976 and 1985) and Regional Meetings (2004 and 2015).
The club celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009 and its 55th anniversary in 2014.
A main focus of the AWCD was, and remains to be, its dedication to supporting local charities, particularly those which support women and children. Fundraisers have ranged from dragon boat races to charity balls. The list of charities the club has supported is long and will continue to grow in the future.
AWC Düsseldorf today….
Over the years, there have been countless changes: from the digitalization of the Radschläger in 1995, to the launching of the first AWCD website in 2002 and the second, and current website, in 2014. Membership needs have also changed, formal monthly luncheons have been replaced by an informal monthly luncheon now called Gourmet Groupies and Kids Club currently functions to replace the baby and kids groups of the past. Tennis and Bridge continue to be strong, as are book clubs and culinary groups. In 2013, annual membership dues for the club year were reduced to make the club more affordable for a greater number of people. The club’s membership has also become more international to include new members who are looking for a connection to the American culture and activities in English. Their influence and contributions help shape the club into the special organization that it is today.
Stay tuned for what is to come!