The Oregon State University Folk Club has been an integral—and hugely philanthropic—part of the Corvallis community for nearly 105 years. Founded in 1908 by Leonora Kerr, wife of then-OSU president William Jasper Kerr, the club promotes friendship and community service amongst women faculty, and the wives and partners of faculty on the OSU campus. While the Folk Club organizes a wide variety of interest groups for members, including book clubs, investment workshops, and at one point a babysitting co-op, one of the club’s most impressive enterprises is its Thrift Shop.
Open to the public, the shop began in 1949 in the basements of two Folk Club members. Now located in downtown Corvallis, the shop is run entirely by volunteers. The OSU Folk Club Thrift Shop Foundation was created more recently when a club member and 51-year veteran of the shop, Jane Loomis, donated one fifth of her estate to the club upon her passing.
Elizabeth Spatafora, the club’s president, noted that proceeds from the Thrift Shop have provided close to $2 million in scholarships to Benton County high school students applying to OSU, and to women over 30 years of age looking to begin or continue their educations here. 2012-2013 scholarships provided $2400 to each of 23 successful applicants. This year, look for scholarship applications beginning in February on the club’s website, oregonstate.edu/osufolk.
In addition to scholarships, in 2012 the club provided 43 Benton County non-profit organizations with a combined total of $40,000 in grants. The club accepts applications from organizations that affect local individuals, and which will provide aid for long-term goals. Past recipients include Chintimini Wildlife Center, and the Corvallis Symphony Society, which organizes annual concerts for all Benton County 4th and 5th graders.
“It’s a huge responsibility for the people on the committee, because we’re deciding how to spend this money that everybody has worked at the Thrift Shop for hours and hours to earn, so we take it very seriously,” said Spatafora.
She strongly encourages grant and scholarship applicants to contact the club with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org (and cc: email@example.com). 2013 grant applications are due to the club by Jan 31 at 5 p.m., and are available at the Thrift Shop or on the club’s website.
The OSU Folk Club Thrift Shop is located at 144 NW 2nd Street. Check their website for shop hours.
by Genevieve Weber