Irma damages 97-year-old Bradenton Women's Club

- A staple in the Bradenton community was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. The nearly century-old Bradenton Women's Club on Manatee Avenue West lost part of its roof. The dance floor inside was flooded during the storm.

"This is like our home away from home. We love this building," said Rebecca Biro, who serves as Treasurer for the club.

Biro said she met and married her husband at the Bradenton Women's Club. The facility, built in 1913, has served as a place for social gatherings, political and religious events for decades.

According to members, they've had to close their doors to events and halt much of their charity work, because of the cost of storm repairs.

"There was three inches of water on our ballroom floor," said Biro. "It was devastating. We had two weddings scheduled for October and invitations had already been sent out in the mail with this address. We had to notify them that the building was simply not usable."

Biro said despite the best efforts of their two dozen members to clean the facility after the storm, the building is not yet suitable for hosting events, like their regular dances, called Ballroom Fridays, because water damage has created a strong smell of mold throughout the building, and the roof still needs to be repaired.

They tried applying for aid from FEMA, but were turned down.

"We didn't qualify for any FEMA funding, because this is not a home, we didn't need medical care, we didn't need food and we didn't need water," said Biro.

The Women's Club has raised money for numerous local charities benefiting women, veterans, and children. The money they donate is earned through holding events at the club.

Their charitable efforts must be put on hold as they work to raise money to repair the historic building.

Through a GoFundMe account, the Bradenton Women's Club has raised just over $2,000 of their $150,000 goal. They are also accepting donations on bradentonwomensclub.com.

They hope to reopen by December.
 

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