By ALISSA SCOTT
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk visited the Century Club in Amsterdam Wednesday morning for an event that both embraced women's rights and the holiday spirit.
The event was one of several the club will be hosting this week as part of its 22nd annual Festival of Trees, which partially supports the community and raises money for the club.
"The Festival of Trees is our biggest fundraiser of the year," Kim Rogers, president of the Century Club, said. "We're the only women's group in New York state that has and maintains its own house and this fundraiser helps benefit that. We just want to say to the community that we're here and we support them while they're supporting us. They know the work we do goes right back to the community," she said, noting that the event also benefits the club's scholarship funds.
This year's event -- which began in the Amsterdam Free Library but outgrew it -- started Nov. 30 and invites the public to the club's "house" to not only admire the 17 donated trees, but to buy them. Rogers sad it has become an Amsterdam tradition.
When Tkaczyk visited the club Wednesday, she purchased a tree titled "Giving Back," donated by LibertyARC.
"I loved that it tells a story," Tkaczyk said. "Here they have a group at the F-MCC garden and the softball tournament for charity. They're so active in the community, it's great."
Tkaczyk said she's going to bring the tree to her new office in the Riverfront Center.
Rogers said the tree's name also resonated with the goal of their series of events.
"Giving back," Rogers said. "That's exactly what we're doing, too."
Many of threes have already been purchased, Rogers said, "which is a good thing."
Today and Friday, local groups, organizations, friends and family are invited to view the trees while they enjoy a luncheon and live entertainment among them. To enter the building, it costs $5 and an extra $5 to receive lunch. If a group intends to come in with 10 or more people, they can place reservations ahead of time and pay a discounted rate of $7 per person in the group for entry and the meal.
Rogers said she's already expecting LibertyARC, nursing homes and local offices to attend select luncheons.
Tonight, the club will host a wine tasting sponsor by West End Wine & Liquor for those of legal age. Wine will be served from 6 to 8 p.m. for $10 per person. The club will hold silent auction raffles throughout the wine tasting, but also from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. following it.
Friday, the club will hold an event to support the United Service Organizations overseas.
"We're sort of trying to mimic Bob Hope's USO tours," Rogers said. "He would go around to the different troops overseas and entertain the troops with the Rockettes and fancy, fancy old women like Sophia Loren. Everybody has their way of support the troops, but this is just our way of doing supporting the troops both past and present."
This is the first time the club is attempting this kind of event. Rogers said it's open to the public and she hopes to see the "entire room filled." All proceeds from admission and raffles throughout the event will be sent to support the USO Family Projects.
Local talent "The Silverstones" will provide entertainment along with emcees Haley Smitka, Misha Murdock, Ron Sorensen, Roy O'Dell, Anna Lee Fancher and Darryl Lanza.
The Century Club obtained an "honor cross," a tree shaped into a cross, that will be raffled off. People can purchase ornaments for it at $3 each and pick them up Sunday after they've been displayed during the event.
Saturday, the club will host a Sugar Plum Fairy Ball from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. open to the public for $5 per person. A local ballerina, who will play the Sugar Plum fairy, will attend the event to dance among the children.
"There will be a bunch of little girls all sugared up," Rogers said.
Snacks and refreshments will be served. Rogers said she asks people who plan to attend to make reservations by calling 258-6686.
For more information, "like" the club on Facebook at Facebook.com/CenturyClub or visit its website at centuryclubofamsterdam.org