2018-05-17 / News

Women’s union, 107 years old, to hold lunch

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


Beverly Loring, member of the Women’s Education and Industrial Union for 37 years, details the history of the union and their contributions to Saco. (Abigail Worthing photo) Beverly Loring, member of the Women’s Education and Industrial Union for 37 years, details the history of the union and their contributions to Saco. (Abigail Worthing photo) SACO – The Women’s Education and Industrial Union of Saco will award scholarships to two students Friday May 18, continuing its long history of supporting students in the community. The scholarships will be presented during the group’s annual meeting, which will take place at The Clambake Restaurant in Pine Point, Scarborough.

The Women’s Education and Industrial Union is a group devoted to the advancement and fellowship of women and to promoting the welfare of children. Originally founded in 1877 to combat poor working conditions and exploitation in women and children in Boston, the union made its way to Saco by 1822, and has since been an active part of the community. The group became officially incorporated in 1911.


Three members of the Women’s Education and Industrial Union in front of the portrait of “the mother of the union,” Sarah Fairfield Hamilton at Dyer Library. From left, Jo-Ann Dearborn, Nellie Gregoire, and Beverly Loring, all of Saco. The union will hold its annual meeting and luncheon Friday, May 18. (Abigail Worthing photo) Three members of the Women’s Education and Industrial Union in front of the portrait of “the mother of the union,” Sarah Fairfield Hamilton at Dyer Library. From left, Jo-Ann Dearborn, Nellie Gregoire, and Beverly Loring, all of Saco. The union will hold its annual meeting and luncheon Friday, May 18. (Abigail Worthing photo) The Women’s Education and Industrial Union is active from October to May, beginning with an opening season luncheon and culminating in an annual meeting.

The scholarships granted by the union are each for $1,000, and will be awarded to a student from Thornton Academy and another from Old Orchard Beach High School. The students must fill out an application and provide their transcript to be considered for the scholarship, which is open to both male and female applicants. The applications are then reviewed by the Scholarship Committee.

“They’re very secretive about it,” said Beverly Loring, Saco resident and member of the Women’s Education and Industrial Union for 37 years. “We don’t even know who the recipients are until the day of.”

The scholarship is contingent on the first semester grades of the student. The recipients are required to send a letter with their first semester transcript to the union, which will then provide $1,000 to be used for the student’s second semester.

At the luncheon, recipients are permitted one guest, and will give a small speech to tell the group of 34 members a little about themselves and their plans for college. This will take place during the luncheon portion of the meeting, and the two students will be excused prior to the annual meeting, which Loring said is “very, very long.”

The union was formerly housed in the Stearns House on Beach Street in Saco from 1911 to 1979, but now meets at Dyer Library every other week throughout their season, and plans their events a year in advance. At the annual meetings, the women pay their $15 yearly dues and receive their handbook for the next year. The handbook includes a brief history of the group, a list of board and committee members, a directory of active members, and calendar of events for the following year.

The group meets every other week and each meeting has an activity, performer or speaker.

“We try to keep the meetings interesting,” Loring said.

For the upcoming 2018-2019 year, the meetings will have guests who include Jean Saunders, chairman of Age Friendly Saco, singer and pianist Louis Philippe, and an annual Christmas program that features the choral program from Thornton Academy, led by Cathy Murray.

“For our Christmas party, everyone brings an unwrapped gift for the Salvation Army. Most people bring more than one though,” said Nellie Gregoire, second vice-president and historian for the Women’s Education and Industrial Union.

Twice a season the union’s Ways and Means Committee hosts a card and game party as a fundraiser, charging $3 per game and $1 for a raffle. Each meeting has tea, coffee and snacks. Tea and coffee is served with porcelain teacups and saucers. The group still uses the silver teapot owned by the “Mother of Education and Industrial Union,” Sarah Fairfield Hamilton, who was president of Saco’s program from 1884 to 1886.

“We have a different array of refreshments every time, and we take serving it very seriously. We even have a pourer for the coffee and tea,” said Jo-Ann Dearborn, member for seven years.

In 2011 the Women’s Education and Industrial Union was recognized by the Secretary of State for its 100-year anniversary of being incorporated in the state of Maine. During its tenure, the union has had women from all backgrounds and careers come through, with two members who served in World War II, including current member Clara Margone, 96, who served in the Navy.

“We’re always looking for new members,” Loring said. “We really do have fun.”

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