It was at the University of Dayton where Eastlake resident Joyce Bates first began to realize her leadership abilities. She met her husband there and had decided to become involved in activities, which eventually turned into years of service and community support
Now, Bates is president of the Eastlake Women’s Club, which works on and supports dozens of community projects and volunteer opportunities. She became president midway through 2018 and has been a member for 15 years.
The group currently consists of 21 members and has grown increasingly involved with the Eastlake community.
“When I first got in there, it was like you had the meeting and you had one activity a month,” Bates said. “But now, it’s getting to the point where it’s more like three activities a month.”
“It’s also a family,” Bates added about the club. “These women have taught me a lot about myself.”
Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Bates said she lived in a town where everyone knew everyone else and had expectations for one another.
“And when I was growing up, women didn’t have sports,” Bates said, “that kind of thing.”
“I grew up with no leadership abilities, really. And then I went to college… When I was going out there, I told myself I was going to change my attitude. Nobody there knew me, or next to nobody — I had a couple friends who went out there, too. But I could do something different and so I started to get involved in things there. And it’s grown over the years, obviously.”
Bates said that she was a part of a program in college which would do service projects in the Appalachian region.
“I thought it was a natural fit for me because I grew up in the Allegheny mountains, that’s rural America,” she said. “(The program also) worked at the YMCA in (Dayton), where people who would come up from Appalachia would settle in that area. And they had programs there for the kids. So I went in and helped with that and I helped with the basketball program, I helped with teaching them to crochet, I helped with after school studies, things like that.”
Bates said that all of her community outreach has more or less “come together in the women’s club.”
She added that, presently, Eastlake Women’s Club has helped support her in showing her leadership skills and abilities, as well as keeping her level when situations don’t work out as planned.
“We’ve all become such good friends,” she added. “It’s a wonderful group of women; we’re supportive of each other. It’s a wonderful family.”
A few of the dozens of projects the women’s club worked on in 2018 included:
Walk for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
Raffle at Taste of Eastlake to benefit USO Culinary Canteen
Collecting school supplies for Eastlake schools
Saving pill bottles for use at free clinics
Establishing and maintaining a free library at Classic Park
Donating to Lifeline of Lake County, UNICEF, Canine Companions and more
While working closely with the City of Eastlake, Bates said that she is always keeping her ears open for ideas.
“One of my friends said ‘You’re unbelievable. I know you’re listening to what I’m saying but I can see your mind working,'” Bates said. “You’re talking and I’m listening to you, but I’m about three squares ahead of you.
“Anything where we can become involved with the city — for the greater good of the city — we do,” she said.
She shared some future ideas for the club, which could include installing a park bench or planting trees at Eastlake’s new skate park and potential outdoor fitness court.
“We work at the EPAL (Eastlake Police Activities League),” Bates added. “When they do their Gray Riders run, we help with that. As a matter of fact, we run the basket raffle there.”
Throughout her life, Bates has also been involved with the Cub/Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Lifeline of Lake County and the Lake Catholic Grand Auction Core Committee. She served as a coach with the Eastlake Soccer Association for 23 years and ended her tenure as association president.
“Each step kind of broadened my horizon on things,” Bates said.
Bates presently serves on the Civil Service Commission, as chairwoman of the Lake County Captain’s parking lot, the Charter Review Committee and as an unofficial member of the Eastlake Economic and Community Development Council.
Before rising to president of the Eastlake Women’s Club, Bates was the membership chair and secretary of the club.
The club is a part of the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs, as well as its national counterpart, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Bates’ club has received numerous yearly awards from the state and national organizations.
“I’m very proud of our group, obviously,” Bates said. “I’m very proud to be a part of it.”