YWCA tea to celebrate generations of members

March 04, 1994|By Wayne Hardin | Wayne Hardin,Sun Staff Writer

Pauline Brooks, now 78, remembers joining the YWCA in the 1930s because "I was interested in doing some kind of work in the community with children."

"I became more active after my daughter joined," Mrs. Brooks says. "Paula was in a dance group when she was 2."

Paula Brooks, now 41, recalls the smallest details.

"I remember my first ballet class and my first tutu," she says. "It was a stiff pink. I was 3 or 4 and thrilled to be on the Madison Avenue stage."

Now her daughters, Naeemah Leftwich, 9, and Sade Leftwich, 6, are building their own YWCA memories. Grandmother, daughter and granddaughters, all of Ashburton in Northwest Baltimore, represent three generations of membership in the Young Women's Christian Association.

All will be at the second Madison Avenue Tea at 2 p.m. Sunday at the downtown Y, 128 W. Franklin St. The first tea last year honored members of the former Madison Avenue branch, which had its origin in the Colored Young Women's Christian Association.

This year's tea, "Generation to Generation, Sister to Sister, Friend to Friend," seeks to bring together members of the Madison, the old International Center in East Baltimore and the ,, downtown center for a glimpse into Y history.

"We really want to reach these ladies," says Jane Christrie, executive director of the YWCA of Greater Baltimore. "But the only list we have is those who have been YWCA members in the last five years. Someone who belonged before then isn't in the data base."

Kellye W. Cones, director of membership services, calls the tea a membership event. We're asking people to bring a friend and to bring a keepsake of memories of past YWCA days to share."

The YWCA began in Baltimore in 1883 and the International Center was established four years later in East Baltimore with a primary mission of teaching English to immigrant women factory workers. The center's Patterson Park Avenue building was sold in 1971, and operations moved downtown until the center went out of existence in 1989.

One of its notable members, Tatiana Galitzine King, born a Russian princess, died last year at 83.

The Baltimore CYWCA was founded in 1896 during segregation and was separate until a merger with the YWCA in 1920. The CYWCA became the Y's Druid Hill branch and later the Madison Avenue branch.

Pauline Brooks, a retired boutique operator, remembers the Druid Hill Avenue branch: "It was a place where you could meet your friends," she says. "There weren't a lot of places then you could go."

For Paula Brooks, YWCA communications director for the past year, being a Y member was the natural thing to do, even before that first pink tutu. Now it's become part of the lives of Naeemah, a fourth-grader at Hilton Elementary School, and Sade, a first-grader.

"I like ballet and cooking and swimming," Naeemah says.

"I like gym," says Sade.

For information, call 685-1460, extension 272. Tickets are $10.

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