‘It’s nice to know you’re helping people’

The Ebell Club of Irvine doesn’t have a website or big fundraisers, but the volunteer spirit of its 16 club members thrives.

The Ebell Club of Irvine has no website. No big fundraisers. And, as its 16 club members grow older, even small fundraisers prove difficult.

“Our major fundraising event had been operating a hot dog booth at Tustin Tiller Days,” says Barbara Reynolds, 78, one of the more active members. “We can’t do that anymore because we don’t have enough physically capable women to staff it for three days.”

Yet their volunteer spirit thrives. The ladies still collect school supplies for needy children. They buy Christmas gifts for families in shelters, and they sew quilts for Human Options, a nonprofit based in Irvine – among other things.

“It’s for women willing to give their time for something they believe in,” Reynolds says. “They’re looking for hands-on, personal involvement.”

The club is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, which dates back to the 1800s.

When the Irvine club formed in the 1970s, it named itself after the Ebell Club of L.A., which was established in 1897 as a substitute for the university education that women were largely denied in those days – and named after philanthropist Adrian Ebell.

Reynolds, a former elementary school teacher, joined in 1973 after her first son was born.

“I’ve always been interested in making the world a better place,” she says.

She’s reminded of this each time she and her husband ride bikes on the 3.5-mile Jeffrey Open Space Trail in the heart of the city.

Along the trail are 89 botanical signs – with names like Fairy Tales, Society Garlic and Regal Mist – that identify the ornamental grasses, plants and flowering shrubs. Sponsored by the Ebell Club, they’re just another small way these women keep making their world, and their city, a better place.

Why do they do it?

“I like to have something meaningful to do,” Reynolds says. “And it’s nice to know you’re helping people.”

For more information about the Ebell Club of Irvine, email Barbara Reynolds at b.b.reynolds@sbcglobal.net.