A brief history of Portland’s ChatWork Civic Club as Christmas Tour of Homes nears

Portland’s ChatWork Civic Club came together at a recent meeting as they are gearing up for their Parade of Homes fundraising event. 

PORTLAND – Portland’s Chatwork Civic Club is gearing up for the annual Christmas Tour of Homes which kicks off Saturday, Dec. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The event also will feature a raffle, bake sale and more at the Northshore County Club, 801 E. Broadway St. in Portland from 1 to 5 p.m.

According to the book, “The History of San Patricio County” written by Keith Guthrie, it said that Portland was just a country town back in 1921, but the ladies had high hopes when they met in the home of Mrs. G.W. Greathouse and formed a club. Because of the nature of the work of the club, needlework and talking, the name ChatWork Club was chosen.

The book explained that through the years the club has had many worthy projects, but what they like to be remembered for most is that the Portland Library is their baby.  This dream started coming true in 1925 when the club entered a movie contest and won a $100 diamond ring which they raffled off for $200.60 and started a time deposit account.

Fulfillment of the dream started in 1934 when a 14-foot by 16-foot frame building was built on lots bought by the club.  The library opened with 241 books on the shelves and club members as the librarians.

During the Depression the club bought four shares of CPL stock which they later sold to buy war bonds during WWII. Portland and the club grew after the war and on Nov. 7, 1957, a new library building, costing $6,480, was opened. 

The book continued, ChatWork Club gave the library to the city on Nov. 16, 1968.  The original frame building that served as a library was sold to Buddy Ganem when the second library was built and he used it as a warehouse.

In 1983 David Ganem gave the building to the club and they had it moved to the grounds of the present library to be used as a library museum.

Every year the ChatWork Civic Club donates the proceeds from their Christmas Tour of Homes and in 2018 they distributed money to:

•Portland Fire Department – $3,140 for firefighting and extrication gloves and $2,570 for CO2 oxygen and saturation machine

•Portland Police Department – $4,000 for LED personal lights

•Portland Policy Explorers – $520 for reflective safety vests and duty gear belts

• Bell Whittington Library – $3,521 for digital vision view camera and early literacy station

•Portland Animal Control – $2,079 for professional pet grooming wash tub and accessories

•Gregory-Portland High School – $4,200 for scholarship

For more information about ChatWork events or the club, call 361-777-4555 or visit facebook.com/chatworkcivicclub.