Oldest Asian American women's service organization celebrates 100 years


The Square and Circle Club, the nation’s oldest Chinese and Asian American women’s service organization, is set to celebrate a century of dedicated community service and philanthropy in San Francisco next month.

Key points:

  • Seven women met at the Chinese Congregational Church in San Francisco's Chinatown and established the Square and Circle Club in 1924.

  • As it approaches its centennial anniversary, it has now become the oldest Chinese and Asian American women’s service organization in the country.

  • The nonprofit has nearly 70 members today, supporting diverse causes such as scholarships and a recent fundraising for Maui wildfire victims.

The details:

  • The Square and Circle Club was founded with the motto “In deeds be square, in knowledge be all-round.” Their first benefit event, a "Hope Chest Dance," raised $250 for flood and famine victims in China.

  • Aside from dances, the group held carnivals, fashion shows, raffles, rummage sales, teas and cookbook publications as fundraisers. They eventually expanded projects to support diverse community needs, from health drives and care packages to Easter egg hunts and knitting scarves for residents.

  • The founders were pioneers in social consciousness, living through the Chinese Exclusion era. By 1941, the organization added a Junior Square and Circle Club to involve teenage girls.

  • Notable members included Alice Fong Yu, the first Chinese and Asian American teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District, and Alice G. Lowe, the first Chinese and Asian American commissioner and chair of the Asian Art Museum.

  • Today, the organization has nearly 70 members, including co-presidents Lorraine Dong and Claudia Jeung, who continue to drive their mission. Recent projects include raising $5,000 for Maui wildfire victims and creating a special scholarship for high school seniors.

  • The organization will celebrate 100 years in a sold-out event at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District on June 1. Mayor London Breed has declared the date Square and Circle Club Day.


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