History

Founded May 1920


Pauline Massengill DeFriece served as first President

 

Social Service added to Bible study


From 1920 initially worked with Red Cross and Salvation Army

 

Earliest fundraiser was St. Patricks Day Tea


First Society Day was held in 1924

 

 

Our volunteer efforts have impacted such organizations as:

 

Abuse Alternatives,

 

Backpacks for Communities in Schools,

 

Bristol Emergency Food Pantry,

 

Adult Day Care Center,

 

Bristol Faith in Action,

 

Bristol Public Library,

 

Crossroads Medical Mission,

 

Children's Advocacy Centers - CASA,

 

Holston Habitat for Humanity

 

The Patricia Freedman Literacy Academy at Bristol Public Library,

 

YWCA Adult Day Care Center

 

 


Blue Stocking Club, Our History

BLUE STOCKING CLUB HISTORY

The mission of this organization is promoting enthusiasm and dedication to the common goal of charitable work for the benefit and welfare of the community in and surrounding Bristol.  


The 35 motivated women in The Blue Stocking Club embrace Margaret Mead's famous quote: "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. Indeed, that's all who ever have."

 

 

 

 

In 1998, club members began to look at a long-range plan to replace the annual Society Day with a fund-raising format to bring in greater revenue in order to make a more significant impact in the community.


The Club’s first special event was the Cole Porter production, “Anything Goes,” held in October 1999, at the recently renovated Paramount Center for the Arts, in downtown Bristol.   In keeping with its tradition of support for area families, the first major gifts were made to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Sullivan County TN and Bristol-Washington County VA.

 

The decision to sponsor biennial fund-raisers continued in spring 2001 with Riders in the Sky. Proceeds were distributed to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Sullivan and Washington Counties and Holston Habitat for Humanity.  Additional support continued for more than twenty community organizations, including Abuse Alternatives, Building Blocks (a daycare center for young mothers attempting to become self-sufficient), Emergency Food Pantry, Head Start, Healing Hands Health Center, Literacy Academy, Salvation Army, YMCA, and YWCA.

 

Blue Stocking Club members responded to the tragedy of September 2001 with renewed awareness and commitment to the needs of local agencies and individuals.  Volunteerism reached an all-time high, with members continuing to read to children at Head Start, tutor at the Boys and Girls Club, work at the Steele Creek Park Nature Center, and fill Christmas stockings for the Salvation Army.

 

In 2003, the greater Bristol community enjoyed the Coasters, Platters, and Drifters, as they generously supported the Club’s efforts to raise money for the Adult Day Services of YWCA.  The tradition of “passing the blue stocking” at the annual Christmas luncheon resulted in generous monetary support for Second Harvest Food Bank and Girls, Inc.

 

As the years passed, the list of agencies supported by Blue Stocking increased to more than thirty, and the diversity of community service opportunities evolved.  Club members have worked diligently with Healing Hands Health Center, a clinic providing medical care for the working uninsured; Bristol Faith in Action, a faith-based organization designed to assist those in financial crisis; and have worked to improve the landscaping at the Nature Center of Steele Creek Park.

 

In keeping with our spiritual roots, we remember that we must “guard what has been entrusted to our care.”  At the beginning of each year, Club members share fellowship as we assemble bags of cleaning supplies for clients of Bristol Faith in Action, or baskets of essential items for women and children, who are starting new lives free of abuse.

 

When the Bristol Public Library began a major renovation, Blue Stocking Club joined the effort with a substantial donation to create a student study room.  Club members assisted during the grand opening week by welcoming patrons and providing tours of the new facility.

 

 



 

 

In 2006, in an unprecedented nomination, the Blue Stocking Club was honored as the first service club to receive the Bristol Wellmont Foundation Citizens’ Hall of Fame Award.  Criteria stated that the honoree continues the tradition of having a significant positive impact on the lives of the residents of Bristol and the surrounding region.

 

The 2007 fundraiser featured Bluegrass stars, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, enabling the club to have fun and make significant gifts to the two beneficiaries, Bristol Faith in Action and the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry.  Despite further economic downturn, the greater Bristol area responded to the 2009 presentation of Irving Berlin’s "I Love a Piano".  Proceeds were distributed to organizations that provide assistance and to Crossroads Medical Mission, a free mobile medical clinic for the uninsured in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

 

As we prepared for a celebration of the Club’s 90th year, an archive of Blue Stocking Club history and treasured artifacts were put on display in the Blue Stocking Study Room at the Bristol Public Library.  The club president challenged each member to volunteer at least 90 hours of time during the 90th year, and members responded by giving of time and talent for more than 5,200 hours.

 

In April 2011, a special newspaper tribute to Blue Stocking Club began this way:  “Fire up a band of strong-willed women with purpose in mind and gold in the heart then whoa boy, stand aside.  They love thy neighbor.  They hold dear and put into practice that we are our brothers’ keeper.  They are Bristol’s Blue Stocking Club.”  On Sunday, May 1, the club was presented with the Bristol Mayors’ Award of Distinction for the positive impact the club has shown in the greater Bristol area. Following the award ceremony, the Bristol Trainstation was the scene of our 90th Anniversary Celebration. The funds from that evening's event were presented to the Patricia Freedman Literacy Academy of the Bristol Public Library.  Club activities continued to expand, as members supported two agencies with hands-on assistance.

 

Building Together: Two States, Two Houses, One Purpose was the rallying cry for the Habitat for Humanity project. We collaborated with Central Presbyterian Church and State Street United Methodist Church to erect a house in Bristol, Virginia and a house in Bristol, Tennessee in the fall of 2011.

 

During 2011-2012, members worked with the YWCA Tech Gyrls.

 

The recipient of the Christmas Stocking collection was Family Promise, to whom we donated $1640.

 

In January of 2012, we provided cleaning supplies for Bristol Faith in Action clients.

 

Work began on our latest major fundraiser during the summer of 2012. An amazing confluence of members' hard work and community response resulted in our phenomenally successful Bela Fleck/Abigail Washburn concert which netted in excess of $76,000. This was an intrinsically unique project encompassing the arts, the humanities, education, technology, tourism, economic development, and historical preservation. It is all about pride of place and we are proud to be a part of establishing a home for the Birthplace of Country Music. Along with important funding, our efforts generated enthusiasm and helped establish widespread credibility for ourĀ  Smithsonian-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

 

Believe in Bristol was added to the organizations to which we contributed volunteer time in 2012. Most recently, we helped Believe in Bristol launch the PUSH! Film Festival in our vibrant downtown.

 

A favorite and heart-warming project which we are now participating in is assisting Healing Hands Health Center in their Valentine Cupcake Fundraiser.

 

We continue to be ready to accept responsibilities and opportunities in our lives and in the Bristol community.