Progress Club of Las Cruces: Giving, Growing, “Living the Spirit of Volunteerism”


By Mike Cook

Talk about progress!

Despite the pandemic and declining membership affecting many service clubs across the county, the Progress Club of Las Cruces has seen its active membership nearly quadruple in the past two years. Club members logged more than 40,000 volunteer hours in 2021 and donated nearly $40,000 to programs benefiting local veterans, domestic violence programs, children and students, as well as women and families in need.

“We are all working for this common goal – to help our community,” said club president Minel Schlaefli, who has been a member since 2013. “We are a group of really strong women (who keep) our focus on what we have in common. Our diversity is incredible.

Club members range in age from 32 to 89, Schlaefli said, and come from all educational and socioeconomic backgrounds spanning the political spectrum.

“I’m so proud of the women we have in our organization,” said Debbie McAllen, club member for eight years and former club president. McAllen is also the state president-elect of the General Federation of Women’s Progress Clubs of New Mexico. Las Cruces has the largest and most active club in the state.

Community impact

Over the past 18 months, the Progress Club of Las Cruces has helped 15 local veterans move from Camp Hope Tent City in the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope to their own apartments. The club also donated a computer, printer and microwave to the Veterans Resource Room at the Oak Street Apartments in Las Cruces and recognized each veteran with cakes and gifts. birthday gifts.

Club members have funded scholarships to Doña Ana Community College and New Mexico State University, become proud patrons of the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, supported the local Reading Alliance for children and provided 835 science kits to students at the Asombro Institute for Science Education in Las Cruces and other students. around the state.

Club members participate in the annual Christ Child Society layette shower by providing clothing and supplies to new mothers, donated $4,000 to My Friends Place youth shelter and supported Missoula Children’s Theater the Doña Ana Arts Council and other children’s rights programs.

The club has partnered with Ashley Furniture to purchase furniture for the La Casa, Inc. domestic violence program hospitality room and to collect clothing, toys, and other items for La Casa patrons. He donated $3,500 to the La Piñon sexual assault recovery services program.


The club will sponsor a fundraising golf tournament on Sept. 17 at Picacho Hills Country Club, with Ron Cavill and Associates as title sponsor. Last year’s tournament raised $19,000.

Meetings, book club, social activities

The club meets from September to May during these regular gatherings:

  • Monthly meeting: 11 a.m. the second Friday of the month at the WIA Building, 340 N. Reymond St. in downtown Las Cruces;
  • Book Club: 11:30 a.m. the second Tuesday of the month at Hacienda de Mesilla, 1891 Avenida de Mesilla;
  • Socials: 5:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month at a different restaurant in the area.

Club history

The club celebrated its 100th anniversarye anniversary in 2015, but began when the Women’s Improvement Association was formed in 1894 by five Las Cruces women who wanted to help provide services to the community that the city was not providing, according to club records. At the time, the women rode behind a coal wagon taking the body of a friend of theirs to a local cemetery. Their first goal was to buy a hearse for the community. This commitment to service evolved into the mission of the Progress Club of Las Cruces to “live the spirit of volunteerism”.

Join the club

Membership is open to all women.

Membership dues are $40 per year.

To become a member of the club and/or make a donation to the club, contact Belen Valenzuela at 575-496-4292 and [email protected]



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