San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Happy 70th Birthday For the Women’s Club

It was an occasion for smiles all around at the Women’s Club of Costa Rica’s 70th Anniversary Luncheon Feb. 10 at the Aurola Holiday Inn in downtown San José. The club’s oldest member, Norma Lenkowsky, 95 (above left), was beaming as she posed with youngest member Tina Roman, 29.

Their age span almost equals the number of years the club has been in the business of bringing together women for social interaction and community service, embodied in the club motto: Friendship Through Service.

The highlight of the event was the screening of “Voices From Seven Decades,” a 23-minute video documenting the club’s history of good times and good works, featuring interviews with veteran members Betty Jiménez Mooney and Tobel Cosiol. The film also documented, through newspaper clippings and vintage photos, the club’s development as a community service group, from donating medical equipment to hospitals, through producing an award-winning telenovela about domestic violence, to the club’s current focus on education through scholarships and creating libraries in local schools.

A special guest at the lunch was Ana Oreamuno, a living link to the club’s founder, Elizabeth Robinson Oreamuno, who was Ana’s grandmother. The origins of the club had been lost in the mists of time; but in researching club history for this anniversary event, current president Bonita Murry unearthed the link to Elizabeth Robinson Oreamuno, a U.S. citizen who married Dr. Alberto Oreamuno, who was vice president of Costa Rica in 1940, the year his wife had the idea to start a women’s club.

Other guests of honor were Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder and his wife, Irene Hansen-Reeder, an honorary club member, and Katherine Stanley, academic coordinator of Costa Rica Multilingüe, a national initiative to help Costa Ricans improve their conversational English skills using volunteer English-speakers, many of them from the Women’s Club.

More than 180 women and a smattering of men – Amigos Asociados, the men’s auxiliary of the Women’s Club – enjoyed a buffet lunch, followed by the presentation of service pins to long-standing active members and the cutting of the anniversary cake by the three members with the longest association with the club: Betty Mooney, Tobel Cosiol and Norma Lenkowsky.

–Dorothy MacKinnon

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