Organized in 1952 with 22 members, the club became Pocomoke's first service club composed entirely of business and professional women. Very soon after the club's formation it took on a major project to meet the needs of the senior citizens in the local community.
PHOTO/Lynn Lang, Pres. of Pocomoke Soroptimists (standing) with Beaulah Baylis, the only charter member
Within three years, the members purchased the large Market Street home from the Hartley Stevens heirs. Hartley Hall, as it was named, became a home for the aged. In providing assisted living services, the home was considered ahead of its time. The home was converted to meet the requirements of a nursing home. With the united efforts of the members and the support of the community, the building was paid off in five years.
Then, in 1979, when the home could no longer meet state requirements, a new 50-bed facility, still under the name of Hartley Hall, was constructed. A new wing was later added to enlarge the home. Still involved in the home, the Soroptimist Club has a member on the board.
Advancing to the past decade, the club members saw a need for more space at Samaritan Shelter. When they learned in 2006 that 350 women and children had been turned away from Samaritan Shelter because of space, the club, now with 23 members, felt that they had to help. The following year they started the Samaritan Shelter Capital Campaign to build a wing for women and children.
Receiving a $10,000 grant from Soroptimist International early in the campaign, the club was able to raise $120,000 in cash and more than $80,000 in donated materials and labor. A little over two years later the shelter was completed and an open house was held. Since the wing opened it has been a shelter to 151 women and 282 children.
The members have also been involved in a number of other projects during the club's tenure. They have been involved in elementary, middle, and high school projects as well as the Samaritan Shelter and Relay for Life. They have provided scholarships for women and girls through fundraising efforts throughout those 60 years. They also honor those who volunteer and women who go above and beyond to help others better their lives.
As a member and leader in the club Beulah has served as president, vice-president, delegate, international liaison, and committee chair for many projects during her 60 years of membership. She attends meetings regularly and still serves as a liaison between the Pocomoke club and its Friendship Club in Finland.
She was married in 1932 to Preston Baylis and they shared their lives for 57 years until his death in 1989. The couple owned and operated a feed store and later Beulah worked as a proof operator in the baking industry until her retirement in 1977.
Other charter members included: Ruth Callahan, Hilda Craigmile, Mary Coleburn, Doris Duncan, Anna Davis, Juanita Harman, Joyce Hoffman, Virginia Hall, Grace Kirby, Elizabeth Kelley, Charlotte Lewis, Gladys Peacock, Myrtle Polk, Nannie Hughes, Vergie Reid, Annie Ross, Madeline Ross, Any Schoolfield, Ida Vincent, Margaret Watson and Alice Young, all of whom are deceased.
The Pocomoke City Lions Club and Rotary Club and the Soroptimists of Accomack County helped the local Soroptimists mark their anniversary.
Current members are: Lynn Lang, president; Denise Walter, vice president; Shelly Mitchell, recording secretary; Crystal Webster, corresponding secretary; Darlene Dean, chaplain; Beulah Baylis, Dorothy Bodley, Betty Burgert, Donna Byrd, Patty Dean, Amy Mason, Dawn Mason, Kathy Mason, Deidra Mears, Terrie Mullis, Gloria Pennewell, Margaret Pilchard, Carolyn Thompson, and Kathy Trumble.