Young Women's Mission
By: Cathy T

Springfield's Nearly New Shop

Rocking Horse Center

     In 1898, Fanny Winger, after miraculously recovering from a serious illness, felt a strong need to show her gratitude through service to those in need in the Springfield community.  This became her mission in life.  Thus, she and her friends started a new and unique organization that became known as The Young Woman’s Mission.

        With the needs of the community, particularly those of women and girls, being so great, the income from bazaars, bake sales and rummage sales could not support their work.  Subsequently in 1899, a Charity Ball was held.  It became a yearly December event.  At one such event, Governor and Mrs. Asa Bushnell led the Grand March. The Charity Ball continued yearly into the 1970”s.

        The group became challenged to start an even larger project.  That developed into the Mother’s Health Clinic to benefit underserved women.  On the day of its opening in 1934, one of the YWM volunteers told her husband that she might be in jail by the end of the day.  However, that did not happen.  In 1959 the clinic became affiliated with Planned Parenthood and continues to provide medical services to the community.

        In 1952 YWM opened the Nearly New Shop (now located at 923 W. Main St.) to support the Clinic and its many projects.  The Shop is owned and completely operated by Mission members.  Profits from this thrift shop have helped support such organizations as Planned Parenthood, the Rocking Horse Center and the Summer Arts Festival.

        In 1990 a scholarship for a second, third or fourth year female Medical School student was started.  This scholarship was named for Dr. E. Sue Miller, a physician and Mission member who had worked with Planned Parenthood for many years.  Scholarships are also offered every year for a Clark State nursing student, a future teacher and someone who is a family or friend of a Mission member.

        Also benefitting the Clark County area is the Mary Jo Bryan Grant Fund. Monies for the Grant Fund come as a gift from the estate of Mary Jo Bryan, a long-time member and philanthropist.  This fund is used to award grants yearly to area agencies that apply. 

        During 2022-2023, twenty-nine local organizations have been helped by Mary Jo Bryan grants and profits from the Nearly New Shop.

        2023-2024 is the 125th anniversary year of the Young Woman’s Mission.  Fanny Winger would be proud.