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 that would make the original 9 ladies proud, Entre Nous has raised and reinvested back into the community over $1,000,000. 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.
So it goes, here is our story.
During the first year, nine young women gathered for the purpose to study twentieth century art. Nellie Critchlow was the first Entre Nous President. Through the years, the objectives of Entre Nous turned to social and civic causes. The Club's purpose, as stated in the by-laws, shall be "to involve members in service to the community, offer social contacts, and encourage cultural enrichment."
In order to raise money to donate to community charities, Entre Nous began holding dances. In March 1934, the Club hosted a dance to benefit the Harra-Anna Home for Crippled Children in Umatilla, Florida, following a request from Bradenton Mayor Silbey White. The profits from that dance were $50. The dance was a combined effort of several local organizations, and was Bradenton's contribution to "Crippled Children's Day" sponsored by Governor Scholtz.
By the mid 1930's, Entre Nous begin it's commitment to offering financial assistance and scholarship money to local students in Manatee County.
On March 15, 1938, Entre Nous served as the host at the Bradenton Country Club to twenty-two officers of the Eighth Pursuit Squadron of the Army Air Corp. stationed in Sarasota.
In the late 40's, Entre Nous began having their "Black & White Ball" every November in the Bradenton Armory. Guests were invited and there was always a large crowd. Nice door prizes were given away such as large hams, radios and other electronic items of the day. You were asked to dress in black and white. Hundreds of black and white balloons adorned the ceiling that the committee had blown up at various service stations. This was always a difficult task to pack them into cars and transport them to the armory. Later we held Christmas dances for a number of years at the Bradenton Country Club.
On November 23, 1951, Entre Nous brought Margaret Truman to Bradenton to sing in concert at the Manatee County High School. President Truman was vacationing in Key West at the time and members hoped he would appear at the concert. He did not and security around Mrs. Truman was tight. Mrs. Cornelia Vanderbilt Whitney, a close friend of President Truman, attended the concert. She was visiting her mother in Bradenton, at the time. It was an exciting event, to say the least! Eight secret service men came several days prior to the performance to check the security. Thanks to a lot of hard work on everyone's part, the concert was a complete success. The profits enabled Entre Nous to purchase an iron lung for Tampa Municipal Hospital. This was in memory of Tommy Junkin, an 11-year-old son of Entre Nous member Carolyn Junkin and husband Ham, who died of polio (pre Saulk days). The iron lung was a sizable donation and was intended to be used to treat polio victims in Manatee County.
On October 19, 1953, Entre Nous released its first cookbook, The Florida Food Fare. The price of the cookbook was $3, and the first year's profits were $2,637. The first $2,000 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.
In March of 1954, Entre Nous sponsored an Emergency Mother's March of Dimes drive. It reached a goal of $5,000.
Entre Nous' very first Attic Sale was held on February 12, 1960, at the Kiwanis Hall. The sale grew, and was moved a few years later to the Bradenton Auditorium and then to the Manatee County Fairgrounds. According to the records, the Attic Sale earned $7,525. In 1971, bringing the total earned from the Attic Sale from 1960 to 1971 to over $57,000. The Attic Sale continued to be an annual fundraiser until 1988. During the 1960's, the Art League of Manatee County held an appreciation coffee for Entre Nous members. The coffee was to thank the Club for the financial assistance it had provided throughout the years. On March 11, 1963, Entre Nous and the Bradenton Herald sponsored a lecture by national celebrity, Abigail Van Buren; also known as "Dear Abby". Entre Nous served as ushers at the event. "Dear Abby" came to speak to Entre Nous members, as well as others in the community at the City Auditorium. She later went to Manatee High School where 900 tickets had been distributed to schoolchildren in the 9th through 12th grades. She addressed parents and students on drugs and sex, which was on the rise in the 60's.
The year of 1978 was a banner year for Entre Nous. The very first Christmas Holiday Tour of Homes was held, with profits of $5,000 earned. In 1978, the Manatee Association for Retarded Citizens (M.A.R.C.) held a special appreciation day for Entre Nous, in which they dedicated the newly covered driveway constructed with the funds donated by Entre Nous. Also in 1978, Entre Nous donated $5,000 to the Manatee County Girl's Club for improvements and repairs to the Barker house, which became the first permanent home for the Manatee County Girl's Club.
Entre Nous' second cookbook, The Sunshine Sampler, was published in 1981. The cookbook was so successful that all of the 20,000 copies printed were sold. In 1985 alone, the cookbook sales earned over $13,000.
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 Holiday Tour of Homes rose to a new fundraising level in 1996, with the addition of corporate sponsors for the Champagne Reception. The first year of sponsorships raised an additional $10,000 alone. The next year, 1997, the Tour was its most successful ever, with a sell-out crowd and a profit of $40,575. All Tour of Homes records were broken again in 2001 with profits of over $58,000.
Entre Nous celebrated the silver anniversary of the Holiday Tour of Homes in 2002. Now a holiday tradition in Manatee County, our 25th Anniversary Holiday Tour of Homes was another success. We were able to return to the community approximately $46,000 through Community Grants, Scholarships, Welfare and Special Saving for the future. Entre Nous' Special Savings Committee divided the Special Savings funds of $16,172 between Manatee S.O.L.V.E. and the Homeless Coalition, giving each organization $8,086.
In 2012, a Special Funds Committee was formed to designate the distribution of proceeds from the Cookbook Fund, focusing on basic needs within the community. $10,000 was given to the Food Bank of Manatee and $1,000 was given to St. Joseph’s Food Pantry to support their Thanksgiving Dinners. In addition, $500 was donated to Feeding Empty Little Tummies for the purchase of dry milk packets, and $500 was awarded to Special Olympics of Manatee County to utilize for purchasing uniforms and transportation for special needs athletes.
As sales of the Treasured Traditions cookbook concluded in 2016, Entre Nous was able to donate $7,941.68 from the Cookbook Fund. $3,970.84 was awarded to Feeding Empty Little Tummies and $3,970.84 was given to Our Daily Bread to assist in their continual efforts to feed the hungry in Manatee County.
The traditions remain, and the Club's values have not changed. Each and every member is here to help either by raising money for other non-profit organizations for community projects, offering a little financial assistance to those in immediate need, or by giving scholarship money to students desiring to further their education after graduating high school.