2013-2014 Presidents’ Messages

from Loretta Altshuler and Karen Large

Past Presidents – Click here

AAUW-Inst-9538(May 2014) May is the time of year when we look back and realize what an amazing year it’s been.

In 2013-2014, the Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek branch maintained tradition, but also broke new ground. Key accomplishments include:

  • Named Number One in the state for giving $41,164 to AAUW Funds
  • Raised close to $23,000 at our 9th annual Holiday Home Tour to send 12 girls from local middle schools to Tech Trek summer camp and award 9 Local Scholarships and one Creative Endeavors Scholarship
  • Created the new Creative Endeavors Scholarship through quilt drawing sales and added scholarship funding raised by advertisements
  • Pending National Association approval, a 15-year $200,000 American fellowship is planned in honor of the 45th Anniversary of our branch
  • Treated our community to our 14th annual Garden Tour this Mother’s Day weekend May 9-10.
  • Expanded use of Pay Pal for all tours and programs
  • Heard a variety of timely topics on animals (ARF),  drugs, gangs, and homicides in our county, climate change, and Pixar movie direction
  • Balanced our annual branch budget
  • Enhanced Advocate and branch communications through new designs
  • Continued branch networking, enjoyed field trips and formed new special interest groups in theater, film, and mah jongg.

We thank our 2013-2014 Executive and Appointed Board members and all branch members for volunteering and donating generously. Your contributions continue to bring our branch success and recognition across the state and nation. Thank you for a  great year.

(April 2014) Spring officially began on March 20th, but Californians know it began this year in January with signs of new buds and small flowers spouting up all over. It has been an unusual fall and winter everywhere. What will spring bring?

Spring brings our 14th annual Garden Tour this year. This popular event is a celebration of green growth and flowers galore. Guests from several counties anticipate this great tradition. Proceeds from our Garden Tour go toward AAUW Funds, which supports ground-breaking research, fellowships and grants for aspiring women scholars, Many of these recipients are home-grown Bay Area natives, like the plants and flowers on the tour.

We ask that all members either give some time or make a donation to help our second big fund-raiser of the year. A three-hour shift goes quickly when standing amid lovely plants, roses, and trees, visiting with guests.

Some members will be away during the traditional time of the tour, Friday and Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, May 9th and 10th. However, there are many jobs to be done, even before the tour. Please contact our Tour Chairs, Mary Holzheimer or Kathy McKnight, who are overseeing this wonderful two-day extravaganza for a second year at https://daw-ca.aauw.net/garden-volunteers/

We thank them and all who make this event happen, year after year.   

(March 2014) Programs have a purpose. They bring us together as a branch and create a sense of community. It’s rewarding to look around a packed room of 70 and hear about “Homicides, Drugs, and Gangs in Contra Costa County, ” as we did last month.

We have common goals as an AAUW branch. Through high-quality and meaningful presentations, we are reminded of those aims.  Coming together reminds us of our mission and allows us to share ideas, update members, network and engage volunteers.

Programs enlighten and inspire us. AAUW members have brought us experts on stem cell research, menopause and aging, self-defense, animal rights and ARF, and historical celebrations of the right to vote, to name a few.

As a branch, we organize three or more general meetings a year, as directed by the bylaws. The meetings allow us to conduct necessary votes and administrative business. These powerful and timely topics  attract our members to come vote, learn, and strengthen our community.

We thank our hard-working and creative programs team for this year’s outstanding events: Co-Programs Vice Presidents Mimi Knox and Jo-Anne Lyons, and International Relations Chair Marian Bliss.  We are always looking for new topics to explore and host, so let us know your thoughts.  Better yet, help plan a program next year.

(February 2014) Every member who gives her time plays an important role in making our Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW branch one of the top branches in the state and nation.

All year, various committees meet and accomplish big and necessary tasks. The Audit/Finance committee reviews our finances, the Policies and Procedures Committee updates the rules we follow, and the Nominating Committee works hard to find the next year’s elected executive board.  There are also jobs of various sizes to be filled for the many appointed positions serving the branch.

We ask that members offer their time by working on their own, job sharing, or serving as part of a team. The benefits are great: make new friends, learn or refresh skills, grow as a member of a strong community, and feel rewarded for doing so.

So when that telephone call comes asking if you will help out, just say, ”Yes.”

2014(January 2014) Now that the holidays are in the past, we look to another exciting year.  However,  before we close 2013, we wish to thank our many members who helped make the 9th Annual Holiday Home Tour a huge success. Special thanks to Co-Chairs and Docent Coordinators Anna Freitas and Jane Stimpson for their incredible hard work and leadership. Sincere gratitude to all our volunteers shown at https://daw-ca.aauw.net/2013hhtresults/ . Also, special thanks for our Holiday Party/General Meeting to Carol Highton for the use of her beautifully decorated home and Judy Lauper for making all of our delicious food.

Take a moment to mark your 2014 calendar with upcoming dates for our branch programs, general meetings and events such as the Garden Tour (May) and Expanding Your Horizons (February). We encourage all members to volunteer and support our branch events. We will see you Thursday,  January 30 for our luncheon and general meeting featuring Mary Knox, Deputy District Attorney for Contra Costa County.

Happy New Year to all!



(December 2013) Looking back at 2013, we can be proud of all the great accomplishments by our branch. Individual members should take a moment to reflect on their contributions and pat themselves on the back. When you see a member whom you know has been very active in the local or state branch, take a moment and say “Thank you for all the time and energy you have given to this organization.” Together we have done so much for our community, families and friends. We have volunteered and raised scholarship money and helped those in the community while promoting our mission: advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

But as this year winds down, we still are not done. We know everyone is get-ting ready for the annual branch holiday home tour and party that our HHT Co-Chairs Anna Freitas and Jane Stimpson, with help from Hospitality Chair Judy Lauper, have worked hard to make a success. We encourage all of you to have your friends and family support this tour and also buy a ticket for the quilt drawing. We thank all of you who have volunteered in some way to help this event.

Looking forward to 2014 provides us with opportunities and new challenges to embrace. Our branch is a strong team of dedicated volunteers so we know that the new year will offer so much to all of us. Your support and continued dedication is greatly appreciated. May the close of this year bring you and your family a bright, prosperous and healthy New Year. May your holidays be safe, happy and filled with hope.

(November 2013) The holidays are always something special to look forward to and at this time

Fall1 of year, there is something else to anticipate, the new AAUW branch directory. Like those times when you were lucky enough to get a new textbook when the teacher passed them out (not a used one with five children’s names on the inside cover), so it is with a new AAUW directory. For our new members, this is the moment when you can open the new directory and see yourself listed there as a part of this great local, state and national organization. For the rest of us, it is a chance to recycle that dog-eared copy, update our notes, learn new faces, and embrace our flourishing AAUW community.

Building, publishing, and mailing a directory is a huge task requiring many hands, talents and teamwork. Kerry Montalvo has managed the large local database for five years. She works closely with Membership Vice Presidents Liz Williams and Susan Terzuoli who keep the branch membership records current with National AAUW. Dora-Thea Porter oversees the actual publication of the directory. All the hard work done by Advertising Managers Kathie Hixon and Jennifer Krommenhoek help fund the directory publication. Tena Gallagher and Teresa Cheung serve on the Data Base Committee along with those previously mentioned.
We are thankful for everyone’s part in helping our branch thrive. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming ARF Program on November 7th and the Holiday Home Tour and party.

(October 2013) Autumn is back-to-school time and a time to find good apples in the store. For some in our branch, fall brings an additional sigh of relief because the annual brunch is behind us, membership renewals are in, and the data-base is updated.

This month we’d like to showcase the exceptional work of the board members who are already making this year another great success. When other folks were taking trips to summer homes, Membership Co-Vice Presi-dent’s Liz Williams and Susan Terzuoli, with help from Tena Gallagher, were busy collecting and inputting forms and checks, making phone calls, and organizing a big reunion brunch for all of the members. An event like the one in September does not happen magically, even though it is repeated every year. The Past Presidents’ book sale was run this year by Bev Nidick (and husband) with the help of Pat Foster, Karen Large and Marian Bliss. President-Elect Mary Ellen Blake worked tirelessly to plan spots for all of the special interest groups and devised a system for members wishing to start a new group. Directory and Graphics Manager Dora-Thea Porter waited patiently while yet another change was made to the printed program. Communication is always the key to any successful event. Advocate Editor Virginia Lane, Assistant Editor Marcia Steinhardt, Webmaster Teresa Cheung, Circulation Manager Pat Foster, and Publicity Chair Tena Gallagher worked hard to get the word out and get it right.

We thank everyone for their time and talents. May we enjoy this beautiful season.

(September 2013) Sometimes someone comes along who quietly and efficiently goes about their work. Such is the case with Helga Glasson, Tech Trek Chair. Tech Trek is the one-week summer science camp program sponsored by AAUW locally and statewide for girls entering the 8th grade.

Helga has been Tech Trek Chair for five years, succeeding longtime member, Bev Nidick. The position is crucial to the branch since Tech Trek is one of two recipients of funds raised by our annual Holiday Home Tour. As coordinator, Helga contacts middle school science teachers within the San Ramon Valley and Walnut Creek school districts and asks them to recommend prospective candidates. With the help of her committee, she interviews the candidates and makes the final selections. (The Tech Trek girls have been invited to our membership brunch.)

It takes organization and follow through to get this job done. Helga has lots of practice as the busy mother of three girls who, like their mother, are also very involved in their community. This year Helga was assisted by the interview committee of Nell Fraser, Bev Nidick, LaVonne Lynch, Karen Large, and Pat Sheller. We salute Helga and her committee.

Volunteering to support women and girls is what our branch is all about. We ask you to join us at the membership brunch on Saturday, September 21 at Crow Canyon Country Club and to volunteer for Tech Trek, Expanding Your Horizons, Holiday Home Tour, Garden Tour, or other activities which endorse our mission and contribute to the community.