• 84°

Club has daytime icon to thank

When Oprah Winfrey recommended James Frey’s book, A Million Little Pieces, as part of her book club, the book instantaneously became part of the New York Times Bestseller’s List. When Winfrey introduced her audience to a no-nonsense Texan psychologist named Phil McGraw, viewers raved over him and his counseling so much he was given his own show, Dr. Phil.

So, when Winfrey based a show on the importance for women to learn to take time out of their schedules to spend time with one another, it should not be surprising that loyal fans in Suffolk would listen to that message.

LaVerne Flythe was a viewer who watched that Oprah episode, and the idea resonated with her. She began envisioning a group of women in the area that could get together and spend time having bible studies, talking through problems, and impacting the community around them.

&uot;There are so many women that need other women, but don’t know how to reach out,&uot; Flythe said. &uot;It is the friendship and the fellowship.&uot;

Starting in spring of 2003, Flythe began calling women friends in the area to come and meet with her for a time of prayer and study. The meetings began and originally nine women were routinely gathering to meet.

The women began challenging themselves to use this time to not only edify each other, but to help the neighborhood around them as well. Soon, the women were visiting sick friends or family members, going to nursing homes to visit with residents, and attending one another’s churches as signs of their support for one another.

As the group expanded their mission, it expanded in numbers as well. Before long, women were calling and contacting Flythe to become a part of this fellowship.

The women decided they would establish an official club. The Friends Christian Club was born.

&uot;We went from name to name,&uot; Flythe said, &uot;because we want (to say something) further than Suffolk.&uot;

The goal of the club is to foster harmonious relationships between one another and the community.

To achieve this goal, the women continue their efforts at local nursing homes as well as host fundraisers, such as love banquets and teas, to donate towards the Alzheimer Foundation and give six scholarships to high school seniors. They also allocate part of their dues towards these projects.

Today, the club has 25 active members, a quarterly newsletter and a new facility to hold all of their meetings and programming needs. Flythe’s husband and son bought and renovated a former barber shop to accommodate the women.

&uot;I kept telling my husband, ‘We need somewhere to meet,’&uot; Flythe said. &uot;He said, ‘Now you have your own clubhouse.’&uot;

The house painted in green and yellow, the club’s colors, has become an integral part of the women’s time together and a symbol to the women of what is possible through faith and determination.

Now, the ladies of the Friends Christian Club, have another goal in sight, thanking the woman who got them started.

&uot;Our main goal is to get to the Oprah Winfrey show,&uot; Flythe said, &uot;But, (until then) to expand this out to more women.&uot;

Lauren.wicks@suffolknewsherald.com