From 1975 to 2021

 The Baltimore CARATS’ history begins with the PIVOTS, via a friendship between PIVOT, Clover Elliott of Cleveland, OH and Vera Carrington, from Baltimore, MD.  In 1968, Vera Carrington, Helen Birt, Jeanne Davis, Helen Gattis, Ada Woodland, Joan Phillips, Minnie Smoot, Janet Wooldridge, Gourdine Blount, Gerri Desbordes, Lillian Jones, Helen Whittaker, Frances Murphy Henderson and Patricia Seldon came together to establish the Baltimore Chapter of PIVOTS in Preparation.  At Janet Woolridge’s suggestion, they called themselves PIPs.  In May of 1971, the Cleveland PIVOTS sponsored the Baltimore Chapter into PIVOTS. Vera Carrington served as President.  By 1975, nine PIVOTS chapters existed in:  Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Macon, Pittsburgh, Washington, DC and New York.

In April 1975, the PIVOTS Board of Directors convened an emergency meeting in Washington, D.C., at the Sheraton Hotel in Silver Spring, MD, to discuss reorganization.  The decision was made to draft Articles of Incorporation, rename the organization, establish colors, generate an emblem and a symbol. 

It was during the gathering on June 27-29, 1975, at the posh Boca Raton’s internationally famed resort in Florida, that the CARATS’ national social club was born.  On Friday, June 27, 1975, details of the new organization were established.  Baltimore recommended the yellow rose as the CARATS’ flower.  Baltimore Charter Members attending this historic event included: Helen Gattis, Joan Phillips and Janet Woolridge.  They were accompanied by their spouses, who participated in activities planned especially for the men.

On October 8, 1975, the CARATS’ organization was incorporated and received its official charter. Baltimore Chapter President Joan Phillips’ name is affixed to the Articles of Incorporation.  Joan also served on the CARATS’ National Constitution Committee.  In 1976, Frances Pennington became the first new Baltimore PIP, followed by Alice Russell, in 1978.

Baltimore has hosted four fabulous Conclaves:  1979, 1987, 1999 and 2013. Some of the organizations to which the Chapter has made financial contributions include:  Arena Players, Associated Black Charities, Camp Farthest Out, Inc., Citizens Celebrating Baltimore, Bea Gaddy, Morgan State University Choir, and Tutties Place.

During the 80s, friendships grew stronger, while chapter meetings and activities became more diverse and exciting.  The chapter gained four new members, while Helen Whittaker became our first General Member.  The Baltimore CARATS sponsored the Washington D.C. Chapter.  Joan Phillips, National Vice President, was responsible for investigating and arranging for the installation of new chapters.  CARAT Joan had an integral role in the installation of the Philadelphia Chapter of CARATS. 

In 1991, Baltimore CARATS were featured in the Baltimore Times Magazine.  In 1999, our legendary Conclave, “Fantastic Voyage,” set a new level of excellence for conclave presentations.  An article about the 1999 Conclave was also featured in the Baltimore Times. 

During 2002-2004, Baltimore CARATS were proud to support Marlene Downs as National President of CARATS Inc. In 2006, the Chicago Chapter established the Maria Atkins Glover Traveling Golf Trophy. Baltimore Carateers were the recipients of the trophy 13 of the 15 years.  Carateers did not compete in 2013.  In 2013, the Baltimore Chapter, again, hosted an unforgettable conclave, entitled, “Cruising with the Baltimore CARATS.” A fabulous time was had by all.  On February 13, 2015, The Baltimore Times, published an article entitled, “Remembering Baltimore’s Treasured Social Organizations,” in which the Baltimore CARATS were featured. During 2017-2019 we were delighted to support our first, 1st National Vice President, CARAT Dee Dee Macer.

Our calendar year begins with meetings in September, hosted by a chapter member.  Every other month, a wide variety of activities are planned, for examples:  Weekends in Wintergreen and Maine, High Tea at the Ivy Hotel, Local Plays and out-of-state Plays, Shopping Trips, Worship Together, Valentine’s Luncheons, Our Famous Christmas Parties, the virtual Holiday Cocktail Party during the Pandemic Is particularly noteworthy, Museum Visits, and In-Home Activities, like: the Hawaiian Luau by the pool, the Halloween Party, Girls Day Out, Cook Outs, Game Nights,  Interaction with Spike Lee, Tailgate Parties, etc.

The Baltimore Chapter is proud of its members who have served in local and national positions, they are:

Marlene Downs, National President                                  2002-2004

Adair, Merlene, Chief of Protocol                                       2002-2004

Jean Lewis, Recording Secretary                                       2002-2004

Evelyn Chatmon, Corresponding Secretary                      2004-2006

Cynthia Webb, Chief of Protocol                                        2008-2010

Charlene McCargo, Audit Chair                                          2010-2012

Yvonne Holt-Stone, Parliamentarian                                 2011-2013

Dee Dee Macer, First Vice President                                2017-2019

Cynthia Webb, Nominating Chair                                     2018

Carolyn Cole, Chaplain                                                      2016-2018

Jean Lewis, Nominating Chair                                         2019

2019-2021 Baltimore Officers                                                                     2019-2021 MEMBERS

President                                 Marlene Downs                                               Jean Adams, Emeritus

Vice President                         Patricia Tunstall                                              Sylvia Brown

Recording Secretary               Donnice Brown                                                Paulette Burgess

Corresponding Secretary      Paula E. Byrd                                                     Evelyn Chatmon         

Treasurer                                 Monica McKinney Lupton                                Letisha Demory                      

Financial Secretary                Sharonne Bonardi                                             Tierra Dorsey                  

Historian                                 Charlene McCargo                                            Lauren Downs            

Parliamentarian                     LaVerne Gaither                                               Yvonne Holt-Stone

Amenities Chair                     Paula Byrd                                                       Anita Jackson, General

Membership Chair                   Carolyn Cole                                       

Publicity/Potpourri Chair        Sharon Sims                                        

Technology Chair                    Cynthia Webb

Throughout its 46-year history, our chapter has been extremely fortunate to have welcomed some of Maryland’s most charming, actively involved, responsible, appreciative, truthful and sincere ladies into our sisterhood.  In 2021, Baltimore CARATS are 21 strong and totally dedicated to our pledge to forge lasting friendships!

The 1975-1985 History was written by Carat Jean Lewis, with contributions from Frances Pennington, Joan Phillips, Minnie Smoot and Janet Wooldridge.

 1975-2021 History was written by Carat Cynthia Webb with contributions from charter member Joan Phillips, Carats Marlene Down and Dee Dee Macer.                 

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