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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Local club has impressive history of enriching lives

Gracella Gibbs
Gracella Gibbs, left, and Linda Pepsworth are all dressed up to go to the Hop at the Thursday Club during its recent Welcome Back dinner to launch the new club year. Joe Puglia pens his thoughts on the club and its philanthropies in this week’s column
(File Photo)

I was looking forward to a night binge-watching the latest season of “The Blacklist.” James Spader’s performance as master criminal mind Raymond Reddington is spectacular.

Before indulging myself, I went through a mental checklist assuring that I had completed the day’s tasks:12th edit of “Nostos,” yep; trees trimmed, “check!”; the leaky faucet was fixed and I’d thawed the pizza dough. The mission was cleared to go.

As I was chopping the mushrooms for the pizza, Kaitzer waltzed into the kitchen and in a pleasant demeanor asked, “Joe, what are you doing tonight?”

It was a loaded question. Instinctively, I regressed to my “escape and evasion” training. “Think!” one of its precepts demanded. At 72, I’m on four-second delay. Subsequently, I hesitated, which led Kaitzer to believe I would be eager to attend the La Cañada Thursday Club annual Welcome Back Dinner, which signals the start of the new club season.


When I came to my senses, I pulled the only excuse I could think of: “Kaitzer, the pizza dough won’t keep.”

She believed I had made a joke and laughed.

“Jane and Dan Owen will be there,” she said. “You love talking to Dan; besides, you’ll enjoy reconnecting with the ladies.”

Dan Owen is one of the most remarkable men I have met. He is the consummate definition of a Renaissance man.


“What time?” I asked.

“Remember? I told you the other day, 5, p.m.”

I didn’t remember, but told her I did.

The La Cañada Thursday Club began in 1912 when Elizabeth Knight invited the women of the community to her home to discuss the issues of the day. For 107 years, the Thursday Club has been stalwart in its dedication to philanthropy, cultural and educational enrichment, social and community service, and kinship. It is the oldest social and philanthropic club in La Cañada.

There’s something to say about an organization whose motto is derived from Emerson: “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.”

The chair of the event, Yvonne Marchosky, orchestrated a memorable evening. Yvonne had contracted Pie ‘n Burger from Pasadena. According to the Food Network, their cheeseburgers are ranked in the top five throughout America.

Sharon Combs, the Thursday Club president, welcomed the membership’s return and promised a year of continued community involvement and contribution. I found it interesting that this mantra of service has been consistent since the club’s inception. Such custodians of this community’s multigenerational commitment to service are exemplary.

Since 1951, the Thursday Club’s Les Fleurettes debutante program has enabled local high school girls to learn social skills, public service and personal development. Also, the Thursday Club promotes education, distributes scholarship and champions a myriad of philanthropic endeavors.


The evening was enjoyable as I was afforded opportunities to reconnect with the members. I appreciated speaking with those who understand that to help someone, you usually have to do something, not feel something. For example, Jodi Platista, a longstanding member of the Thursday Club, brought enthusiasm and guidance when she nurtured our girls, Sabine and Simone, through the debutante program. And Barbara Self, who assists the La Cañada Flintridge Orthopedic Guild’s annual fundraiser, the Book and Author Luncheon. This philanthropy raises money for children with musculoskeletal disorders.

Throughout the evening, Dan Owen and I were engrossed in conversations from metaphysics to the various modalities of street fighting; subsequently, we didn’t hear Yvonne announce that dessert was being served. She had promised banana cream pie. By the time I got there, all the banana cream was gone. Despite my chagrin, I have to say the Thursday Club is a testament to all the higher forms of literature, moral authority and philosophy that assert giving enriches our lives with nobleness and purpose.

I’ll leave you with my thoughts on philanthropy: As Sister Delores, my eighth-grade teacher, said, “Don’t go through life with two catcher’s mitts. Sometimes you have to throw something back.”

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