On October 27th, we will celebrate our 65th Founders Day. Because we remain the oldest, continually run Caribbean organization of its kind in the United States, we are inviting members and friends of the West Indian Social Club to celebrate this milestone with us by posting a selfie which includes the numbers 6 and 5 (in that order) on your Facebook profile page. Be sure to include the #WISC65thFoundersDay hashtag so that your photo can be easily found. The picture with the most likes will win one of the following prizes:
- Two tickets to the 12th Annual Soul 2 Soul dance taking place Saturday, November 12th in the ballroom. (Disclosure: Soul 2 Soul is not a West Indian Social Club event).$40 value
- A $40 gift certificate for services with Janet Dunkley at Oluchi’s Hair Salon & Day Spa in Bloomfield, CT
- Spa Sonic Pro Face and Body Polisher Skin Care System ($37.99 value)
- Tickets to our October 31, 2015 Games Night ($20 value).
- Autographed copy of “Sailing on Broken Pieces” written by Dr. Gary Rhule ($15.41 value)
Going forward, we hope that founder’s day recognition will continue and grow as part of the rich tradition of celebrations at the club.
The West Indian Social Club was founded by migrant workers who were recruited from the Caribbean to work in the tobacco fields and factories of New England due to the manpower shortage resulting from World War II. Far from their homes, the men met frequently to continue their traditions such as dominos and cricket. It was during these friendly gatherings that the idea to form a social and cultural organization evolved.
With the help of the late Attorney Leon Podorowsky, the West Indian Social Club was incorporated in October 27, 1950. John Richardson, served as the organization’s first President. Shortly after their incorporation, the West Indian Social Club established their home base at 353 Barbour Street in Hartford. Because membership of the club was restricted to males, women who wanted to join the organization formed the Ladies Auxiliary in 1954. Mrs. Connie Mills served as the Ladies Auxiliary’s first President.
As a result of imminent domain issues, the club was forced to relocate so that the City would be allowed to build housing project at its original site. In 1971, under the leadership of David Cooke, the organization secured their current Hartford location, 3340 Main Street which served previously as a roller skating rink and a furniture store.
In 1980, the Ladies Auxiliary was merged with the general membership of the organization. Rosemarie Tate, who would later serve as Secretary of the organization, became the first official female member of the organization. The merge of the Ladies Auxiliary and the general membership of the organization opened the opportunity for women leaders in the male dominated organization. Former Hartford Council woman, the Hon. Veronica Airey-Wilson was elected in 1989 as the organization’s first female president. She was followed by other female leaders which, includes: Alred Dyce, PhD; Doreth Flowers, Doreen Forest, and current President, Nicone Gordon.
Today, the West Indian American Center is utilized by members and other organizations for rehearsals, meetings, forums, cultural events, social affairs and other programs, which are important to the unified life of the community. The West Indian American Center also serves as a base for entrepreneurs who use the facility to host parties and other for profit events.
The West Indian Social Club is also home to four independent organizations which includes the West Indian Foundation of Hartford, Inc (a 501c3 recognized organization established in 1978); the West Indian Independence Celebration Committee (the organizing committee for events leading up to the annual Carnival parade, established 1962); and the Greater Hartford Lions Club of Hartford.
Writer: Natasha Samuels is a member of the WISC and serves as the Social Media Administrator. She is also the publisher of One Woman’s Style and Jamaican Bar blogs.