Club spotlight: Pacific Beach Woman’s Club has been helping its community for 128 years

Pam Egan, Mary Lou Benzel, Kelly Laird, Cari Arn and Laurie Carlock at the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club Wine Festival in 2022.
Pam Egan, Mary Lou Benzel, Kelly Laird, Cari Arn and Laurie Carlock at the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club Wine Festival benefiting in October 2022.
(Ellen Citrano)

This month, the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club celebrates its 128th anniversary and its members have much to celebrate.

The club got its start in 1895, and was originally called the Pacific Beach Reading Club. Although the name was different, the philanthropic goals of the club have remained the same.

“We make the money and we give it away,” said President Ellen Citrano.

The club has contributed to many aspects of life in PB. In 1914, the Pacific Beach branch of the city library was established within the clubhouse. In 1917, the club created the Pacific Beach branch of the San Diego American Red Cross.

Want to join?

Pacific Beach Woman’s Club

• When: General meeting is monthly at 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday.

• Where: VFW Hall, 853 Turquoise Street, Pacific Beach.

• Dues: $45 per year.

• Club website:

• Club email:

• High Tea fundraiser: 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22 in the Soledad Club, 5050 Soledad Road in Pacific Beach.

• Tea tickets: $55, buy at

For those that enjoy taking a picnic and enjoying the views at Kate Sessions Park, the PB Woman’s Club helped establish that in the 1950s. It even helped get a traffic light installed at the Ingraham Street and Garnet Avenue intersection.

However, the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club efforts and contributions extend well outside of PB and San Diego. The club organized war efforts in 1917 and the early 1940s, including hosting surgical dressing classes and donating money and necessities such as bed sheets to war-related charities. Members have fundraised to help with natural disaster relief in other cities and countries. The club was also active in the women’s suffrage movement.

The club has withstood hard times, whether by rationing food at meetings during times of war, having to cancel meetings due to an influenza quarantine, or most recently, implementing COVID-19 restrictions. But members have always persisted.

“COVID didn’t stop us,” Citrano said.

Some may wonder how the Club is still thriving after so much time, and it must be due to the types of members it attracts.

“We spread ourselves thin, we’re all about service and volunteering, but we like to have fun too,” Citrano said.

The club has 48 active members with their ages spanning 60 years. There is something for everyone to get involved. Citrano said younger members gravitate towards activities such as beach or graffiti cleanups, where they can see immediate progress. Women who are “more mature” in age, seem to prefer fundraising, quilt or blanket making and assisting with hospice in town.

PB Woman’s Club member Kelly Laird during the Toys4Tots collection drive in December 2021.
(Ellen Citrano)

As for how the club selects worthy causes to support, Citrano said, “We don’t try to reinvent the wheel. ... (We) like to help out what is already in existence, which helps money and resources go further.”

One of its beneficiaries is Stand up 4 Kids, an organization dedicated to helping with teen homelessness for over 18 years. This is done through monthly monetary donations as well as clothing, meals and hygiene kit donations.

Members also hold a first responders picnic every September and regularly donate meals to firefighters and police in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. They also hold an annual wine tasting to support GenerateHope, an organization devoted to fighting sex trafficking in San Diego.

Club members are especially excited about their second annual High Tea Fundraiser on April 22 to support scholarships for Mission Bay High School students. Last year they raised $13,000 through the tea and are hoping for more this April.

First Vice President Sharman French is organizing the tea and busy planning everything down to the last detail.

Sandi Miller, Kathy Leach, Kimberley Graf, Sunny Silverra and Doreen Jordan at the PB Woman's Club High Tea in 2022.
(Milan Kovacevic)

The event will be catered, serving tea and refreshments. Participants can expect a raffle, silent auction, on-site artisan vendors, elaborately decorated table settings and a contest for best fancy hat.

“(The club offers) opportunity for creative inspiration, that’s what I find the PBWC to be all about,” French said. “The philanthropic and continuous support of creativity, while being very conscious about social justice in the meantime.”

Because the theme is of a “high tea,” the high school student servers will be “dressed like ‘Downton Abbey,’” and “the young men wear livery,” French said.

The event will take place at the Soledad Club and the Mission Bay High School orchestra will provide music.

For those unable to attend the fundraiser, the PBWC hosts regular bingo and bunco game nights, as well as public events and opportunities to volunteer. All are welcome to the monthly meetings at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Pacific Beach.

French, who moved to San Diego not knowing anyone, said she has found a community in the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club.

“Through the club, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and have been encouraged to use my creative instincts, as they do with all the members,” she said.

Citrano and French both emphasized that the club is always open to newcomers. Whether that means officially becoming a member, attending the High Tea or simply stopping by for a few bingo games, it’s a great way to experience a part of PB’s most historic club.