History of People Who Connect-Stavanger
In 1968 – 69, foreign oil companies began to send employees and their families to Stavanger, to work in the budding oil industry. Stavanger was then a small fishing town. Some days the smell from the factories was so bad you could not even open your windows!
There were no pubs, bars, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, or malls. The selection in the grocery stores was also limited. The airport was very small, and there was a language barrier as not many Norwegians spoke English then.
A Canadian woman had come here in the mid-1960s and married a Norwegian man. This couple used to help new expat families by picking them up at the airport, teaching them Norwegian, and opening up their home to them.
In September 1970, three Stavanger oil industry wives decided there should be an organisation for expat partners in Stavanger. The group would provide a place to share information, cultivate friendships, gather socially, and extend philanthropy.
That was the start of the Petroleum Wife’s Club (PWC). It was only open to women with connections to the oil industry. There were 54 members in the charter group that September, and they represented six nationalities.
The club offered four classes that first September: bridge, Norwegian, flower arranging, and creative stitching. By April 1979, the club had grown to 632 members representing 21 nationalities. Dozens of classes were offered.
At coffee mornings, the newcomers had opportunities to meet up with other women in the same situation, make new friends, ask questions, and get help with language problems.
Fundraising has always been a vital part of the organisation. Raffles, cookbooks, and jewellery sales supplied funds for philanthropic projects. In November 1971, PWC made their first donation - a television set for the multiple sclerosis hospital.
The children weren’t forgotten either. They missed traditions like Halloween from home, so a bazaar and party were planned. The event became so popular that all nationalities came, and it turned into the biggest single fundraiser to date. Members worked for months to produce plants, needlework, knitting, and baked goods. There were games for all as well as a costume contest.
In addition to Halloween, PWC also had 4th of July parties, western dancing, and a flea market twice a year.
The women of PWC worked as hostesses at oil conferences and for golf tournaments. They provided translators when needed, trying to serve as useful and productive members of their society.
Members also arranged their own tours to Lapland, Russia, Israel, and France and many more places. They toured every factory and historical location possible to learn more about Stavanger and Norway.
Arts & Crafts Fair
In 1977 PWC Stavanger advertised for a traditional Norwegian rose template, and a local woman responded. That year the local women and an expatriate woman who shared a mutual love for crafting started the first PWC arts and crafts show. A third woman and her husband played a big part in the show from the start, helping with everything they could. This was the first show of its kind in Norway.
The first show was held in Sola Strand Hotel, but the annual event grew quickly so it was moved to Hill Hall in Sola. When the show became too large, PWC Stavanger took over and made the event a club fundraiser. To date the fair has raised millions for local Charities and with over 160 exhibitors was one of the largest in Norway.
From 2016 the Arts and Crafts Fair will be organised by Sola Håndball klubb.
For more information contact Sola Håndball klubb by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing: Sola Håndball klubb, Post boks 100, 4097 Sola
PWC has since changed its name to People Who Connect-PWC-Stavanger., replacing the traditional "Petroleum Wives Club". The club is open to everyone, not only partners of employees of the oil industry. It’s run with the same purpose as before, though: friendship, cultural exchange, and philanthropy. It is a nonprofit organisation run by members, for members.
2020 will be the Club's 50th Anniversary. Planning is already under way to celebrate, not just in Stavanger, but all over the world with members past and present.