Davenport Lend-A-Hand Endowment


By 1901, the growing need for a “boarding home” for young women became evident and characteristically the Lend-a-Hand rose to answer the need by organizing rooms for twelve women at 708 Brady Street, separate from the club rooms which were rapidly becoming over crowded.

Thus… from a single room in 1887 on the corner of 2nd and Brady Streets, the Lend-a-Hand moved to more spacious quarters at 323 W. 2nd St. in 1902, where the club could better meet the changing needs of its 750 members and the community.

The programs offered to women of all ages were many and varied. Each noon 200 hot meals were served at an average cost of 12 cents in the club dining room. Lessons were given in language, music, homemaking, and hygiene. There was a loan fund available for education and for those temporarily in financial need, as well as a 5 cents saving program. The club sponsored an employment agency, a women’s exchange where articles made by women at home could be sold, an afternoon childcare nursery and a be-friender committee to oversee sickness or distress of any kind.

An increasing number of young women from rural areas, emancipated by the sufferage movement, were moving to Davenport seeking education and employment. They needed a place to live which would be secure, clean, in-expensive and where they could share friendships and experiences with others like themselves.

Thus, in 1923 the Lend-a-Hand members, with the help of the entire community, built the Lend-a-Hand Club Building we know today for $200,000. The programs which continued were only for women, and were expanded to include: counseling and instruction for foreign women and children, and, at no cost, rooms and assistance to transient women without funds and for women who had been physically abused. A wide variety of problems concerning women’s welfare were dealt by the Lend-a-Hand personnel.

By the 1930’s the club whose premises had always been exclusively for women, invited community groups of both sexes to use the lounge, cafeteria, swimming pool and meeting rooms. Elderly women could now find a low cost home at the club.

For the next twenty years the public rooms were filled both day and night with meetings of civic and cultural organizations, student recitals, Boy and Girl Scout meetings, swimming lessons, social events, to mention a few.

The World War II years were especially busy for the Lend-a-Hand, as a special effort was extended to meet the needs of our armed forces personnel.

As times change, new needs are born. In 1970 the Lend-a-Hand recognized the shortage of low cost housing for Davenport’s elderly men and women. Once again the Club in cooperation with the city of Davenport and C.A.S.I., extended its helping hand to meet the new challenge; to house, feed and sponsor a host of new varied programs for Davenport’s Senior Citizens. 

"Teens for Tomorrow gave me an understanding of local issues and the opportunity to support organizations that work toward solutions."

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Robert and Hazel Cowles knew they wanted to support the community's needs long into the future, so they turned to the Community Foundation to meet their charitable goals.
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