Project Beauty looks forward at 50

By  Joe Stumpe

Project Beauty, Inc. may be down in numbers, but it’s not out. President Sue Boewe admits to an ambitious goal for the 50-year-old group founded to spruce up Wichita.

“I’m hoping we’re going to double our membership this year,” she said. “I’ve asked everybody to bring in one member. That’s the challenge I’ve put to everybody.”

Project Beauty will celebrate its half-century mark during its annual membership tea and fashion show at Botanica at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The public is invited. 

“We call it our membership tea, but it’s actually a ‘high tea’ for anyone interested in coming,” Boewe said.

Started in 1968 by Gwendolyn Naftzger, the organization boasted 700 members at one time. One of its first efforts was a campaign called “Don’t Trash It” that urged people to pick up litter. 

Another was the awarding of “beautification certificates” to businesses that improved their property through landscaping. The group’s logo became a trash can with a pink rose.

Project Beauty established the Shakespeare Garden at Botanica and still contributes to the cost of maintaining it. Parks and fountains, bike paths and statues around town all bear the group’s stamp. Members established the garden-like median strip north of Century II and for years maintained it, led by Annie Meyers until she was in her late 80s. 

“We don’t do that anymore because we’re too old and it’s too risky, but we pay for the city to do it,” Boewe said.

The group still raises money, holding six meetings a year that feature guest speakers and three fundraisers. Beginning memberships are $25. Anybody interested may contact Boewe at ramsboewe@cox.net.

Boewe said the Oct. 2 high tea will feature “little sandwiches and all kinds of goodies and pastries,” live music and a fashion show by Christopher Banks of Towne East Mall. It’ll be “a rather formal affair, like an English high tea,” she added.

“I’m telling everyone, ‘Don’t wear your blue jeans.’”

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