The forerunner of Charity Guild of Catholic Women began in 1922 at a gathering of 59 women of vision. With a collection of $1 from each, the group established a charity fund to help the growing population of disadvantaged children in Houston. Meanwhile the pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church noticed the alarmingly high infant mortality rate among his parishioners. He asked the group of ladies for a donation to help establish Clinica Gratuita. They not only gave money, they began sewing layettes to distribute through the Mexican Free Clinic, now known as San José Clinic. The Sewing Committee is the oldest committee of the Guild and continues to sew layettes for infants.
The seminal group of Catholic women continued as a loosely established charitable organization until 1940 when they adopted a formal name and elected their first president. Still motivated by the troubling number of deprived children, the Guild sought a reliable income source to provide financial help. A consignment shop, operated by enthusiastic volunteer Guild members, was a blueprint for raising money.
Charity Guild Shop opened in 1952 in the 1600 block of Westheimer Road and later moved to a converted gas station on Woodhead Street. By 1960 the Guild achieved non-profit status, purchased property on Lovett Boulevard, and that year donated $9,000 to charities that aid children. Shop income increased and by 1981 the Guild would commit to an annual $50,000 grant to San José Clinic and a $10,000 yearly grant to the unwed mothers program at St. Joseph Hospital, in addition to giving financial aid to other charities.
The 1990s were a time of expansion, resulting in a larger building on Lovett Boulevard with retail, office, and meeting space. In 2003, the Guild purchased additional property for increased parking and more floor space in the shop. Charity Guild of Catholic Women celebrated a red-letter day in 2004 with the announcement of $1 million in gross sales for the fiscal year. Since 1996 income from shop revenue has enabled the Guild to give over $3.5 million to children’s charities, including San José Clinic.
More than 90 years of dedicated volunteerism have gone by, fulfilling the dream of a small group of Catholic women. Today Guild members remain dedicated to helping children who might otherwise lack access to enough food, safe and acceptable housing, affordable healthcare, adequate clothing, satisfactory education, supportive recreation and enrichment services, and restorative and psychological assistance.