Who We Are
What started out in the Fall of 1931 at the home of Nellie and Shelby Crichlow, has evolved into an organization that would make the original 9 ladies proud, Entre Nous has raised and reinvested back into the community over $2,000,000. The Club's mission statement: To inspire lifelong service, promote goodwill, and strengthen our community has never wavered. We are dedicated to giving back 100% of the profits raised to support Manatee County by providing money for scholarships, welfare, and to charities for local projects.
To quote Mahatma Gandhi:
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
The year was 1931, the country was recovering from the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the Empire State Building is finally completed and open, the Star-Spangled Banner becomes the U.S. National Anthem, and nine energetic and creative young ladies got together to organize Entre Nous.
With the help of their mother, Lillian Critchlow, Shelby, and Nellie Critchlow gather their friends together initially for the purpose of studying 20th-century art. But what they discovered was there were parts of the community and local citizens that needed help, and they changed their purpose and turned the club into a commitment to social and civic causes, with Nellie Crichlow at the helm as the first Entre Nous President. Over the past 90+ years, members have focused on volunteering and fundraising to support the academics by offering scholarships to further someone’s education, as well as to non-profit organizations that combat homelessness, foster children, victims of domestic violence, food insecurities, and the elderly within the confines of Manatee County.
in 1933, after creating a blueprint of ideas, the club began its series of benefits to raise money for charities. Among the first interests of the club, the recipients were able to have hot school lunches, free tonsillectomies, eyeglasses, and other medical treatment for needy children. The club members worked closely with the county welfare director in answering calls for help. Entre Nous’ rich history of involvement in Manatee County and its citizens has never waned. Entre Nous has donated to numerous organizations over the years through our Community Projects committee. Non-profits that have benefitted from the efforts have included the seed money to the County Historical Park, Project Hope, Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County, S.O.L.V.E Maternity Homes, Homeless Coalition, Take Stock in Children of Manatee County, Guardian Angels of SW Fl, Special Olympics of Manatee County, and various food banks like, F.E.L.T. (Feeding Empty Little Tummies), Our Daily Bread, and St. Joseph’s Pantry, just to name a few.
Below are some highlights of the club’s rich history:
In 1934, a time when women had very little avenues to find scholarship money, was when the first college scholarship was presented (for a time this was on a loan basis). and the Club over the decades has maintained the importance of valuing education, and to date has given out more than a million dollars in academic scholarship awards. Many of these students have returned to Manatee County as teachers, nurses, doctors, and lawyers.
By 1937-1938, the club members were involved in 12 major fund-raising projects, a fashion show was added to the benefit dances, and a tea dance where “the big apple” was featured. Another highlight of 1938 was given by the officers of the Club for of the Eighth Pursuit Squadron of the Army Air Corp. who were stationed in Sarasota for air maneuvers.
1951 Entre Nous sponsored Margaret Truman to Bradenton to sing in a concert which drew a capacity crowd. The profits from this concert enabled Entre Nous to purchase an iron lung for Tampa Municipal Hospital. At that time, the members were actively involved in raising much needed funds to help fight Polio and continued to support the Mother’s March of Dimes and the Easter Seal Drive downtown for many years.
Probably the most involved project the club was involved in was the publishing of the first cookbook, The Florida Food Fare, in 1953. Over five thousand books were printed, and that cookbook is now a much sought-after treasure. The first $2,000 earned from the sale of the book (at $3 each) was pledged to Happiness House, (a local facility for special needs children). It is estimated that The Florida Food Fare cookbook earned over $7,500 for Entre Nous' community causes.
As Entre Nous began it’s 30th year, a new undertaking for raising charity funds was planned called the Attic Sale. The first Attic Sale sponsored in 1960, was a project of gigantic proportions that continued each year until 1988.
In 1963, Entre Nous became the first three-time winner of the Herald’s Community Service Award. Also in 1963, Entre Nous along with the Bradenton Herald sponsored a lecture by national celebrity, Abigail Van Buren; also known as "Dear Abby". She addressed parents and students in the community on the issues of morality.
Entre Nous' second cookbook, The Sunshine Sampler, was published in 1981. The cookbook was so successful that all 20,000 copies printed were sold. Approximately $120,000 was earned over a four-year period. In 2007 the third cookbook was published called Treasured Traditions, and Entre Nous was able to donate $7,941.68 from the Cookbook Fund.
In 1993, Entre Nous created two new fund-raisers. "A la Carte" in which members held theme dinner parties in their homes, raised $10,000 in the two years it was held. The Entre Nous Holiday Pantry was also added to the Tour of Homes. Canned jellies, jams, dry mixes, herb vinegars and other goodies were made by Entre Nous Members and sold to the patrons during the Tour of Homes. The Pantry was very successful and raised over $20,000 in the four years it was a fundraiser.
The very first Christmas Holiday Tour of Homes was held in 1978 with profits of $5,000. The Tour of Homes was held for 43 uninterrupted years and would have continued to be uninterrupted had the world not had to deal with the Covid pandemic.
In 2020 and 2021, because Covid didn’t allow Entre Nous to offer the Tour, the club as resilient as the members were, got creative and presented an online auction called Festival of Trees. We offered beautifully decorated trees and themed packages. The two years combined raised over $60.000. But the community has been very vocal about the Tour being reinstated, and the goal is the do that in 2022.
By 2022, the Club has successfully fundraised over 2.4 million to the community and citizens of Manatee County
Additionally, for the past five decades Entre Nous has placed 5% of it’s profits from the Tour of Homes and Festival of Trees auction into a Welfare fund to be to Manatee County families in financial crisis. These donations come in many forms, like a power bill, food, medicine, car repairs, or clothing.
Entre Nous is well known for their gracious hospitality and charitable giving, but also for it’s treasured past and entertaining traditions. The food, themes, and attention to detail always found at Entre Nous events are always looked forward to by its members as well as the community.
We greatly appreciate and sincerely thank all the sponsors and friends of Entre Nous throughout the years. We would never been able to reach our goals without your help.
Portions of The History of Entre Nous was compiled by members Margaret Christopher, Eileen Griffith, and Mary McMurria for the 2007 Treasured Traditions Cookbook. Member Sandi Victor updated the history in 2022.
If you would like to donate to Entre Nous so we can continue to provide for the citizens of Manatee County, Please click below