In 1984, Mary Helen McGruder, Van LeBlanc, and Bebe Miles, pursuing a need for an organization geared to women interested in civic and community causes, researched the possibilities available. Early in the spring of 1985, these ladies, along with Johanne Daigh, Glynnell Ellis, Gail Mize and Pam Dorman met in the McGruder home with two representatives from the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs (GaFWC), Patsy Carlson and Martha McElhannon.
That meeting and a trip to the state convention in April of 1985 confirmed to these ladies the need for a woman’s service organization in Forsyth County. At the meetings they had discovered more about the parent organization, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), which is international in scope. It was determined that the GaFWC / GFWC offered the best network and programs as well as a proven track record of service.
Once the affiliation was determined, the founders had the task of deciding which division of the GFWC the club would enter, selecting a name, and recruiting charter members. Since its onset, the founders had determined that the service club in Forsyth County would appeal to a younger group of women – thus the club would be a part of the Junior division.
Selecting the club name proved to be a difficult task since the founders wished to covey a county-wide appeal. “Cumming / Forsyth County” was discarded as too long, while “Lanier” seemed too overused. It was then that the founds thought of using the name of that great landmark, Sawnee Mountain, which could be glimpsed from so many vantage points in the county, and which has also preceded the creation of the town, the county, and the lake. It was visible and it was steady – two trademarks the founders wished to embrace in the formation of the club.
Along with the seven founders were twenty other women expressing a desire to serve the community. Under the capable guidance of Patsy Carlton and Martha McElhannon, the Sawnee Junior Woman’s Club applied for its charter under the GaFWC / GFWC. On September 11, 1985, the club held its first meeting. Mary Helen McGruder was installed as the first president.