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Our April 2021 General Meeting featured Mary Grafilo, a young, vibrant retirement counselor at Carlton Senior Living in Pleasant Hill . She spoke to us about senior living in general, highlighting a number of levels of living choices based on what the person both needs and desires. The idea is to be at a place one can enjoy and experience the best quality of life possible. Future goals of assisted living will focus on diversity, a variety of social opportunities, health and fitness, and appropriate life matches for their residents. Mary suggested “giving it a try” when you are ready!

We were pleased to have Ellen Snortland from the National Women’s History Alliance as our guest speaker at the March 2021 General Meeting. As March is Women’s History Month, she gave us a comprehensive history of the Suffrage Movement in the US. Her talk was accompanied by many very interesting photos, drawings, and charts representing some aspect of the progression of events that finally led to the passage of the 15th Amendment to our Constitution. We learned many details about events that took place of which we were not aware, which added depth to our understanding of the most non-violent and creative movement in history!

Our February 2021 General Meeting featured John Burgh, Board Member of Contra Costa Water District. As a long time resident of the area, he is also active in many community organizations. John gave us an update of the CCWD, which included facts and figures regarding the layout of river systems, waterways, cities involved, and the population served. He showed us charts representing ongoing projects to keep the system maintained and producing high quality water. Financial aspects of the CCWD were also presented and explained. John was happy to answer questions from our members concerning climate issues, water pipe projects, and the Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion plans.

Our January 2021 General Meeting Program featured the new Superintendent of Schools for the Martinez Unified School District. Coming to us from a wealth of experiences at all levels of education, Dr. Julie Synyard shared the highlights of the work taking place so far this school year, in light of the fact that it is basically all being done virtually rather than in the classroom itself. This challenging situation has, of course, presented a tremendous amount of adjustments and creative lesson planning for the teachers and administrators in the District.

Our members had the opportunity to ask Dr. Synyard a number of interesting questions. From among those, we learned that there will be State Testing, but probably in a limited fashion. It is also inevitable that the entire educational experience will ultimately involve some “catching up,” but everyone involved at all levels is obviously doing their very best, for which we are thankful.

For our November 2020 program our speaker Peggy Cabaniss, AAUW National Finance Chairperson, gave us an enlightening and informative talk about where the money goes for AAUW. Peggy's presentaion was complete with charts and graphs and lots of facts.

Currently AAUW has 120 million dollars in assets most of it in restricted funds. Restricted Funds takes up 98% of the total fund account and has enough money for 150 years. Funds in this category are earmarked for specific areas such as full scholarships and leadership programs (NCCWSL). Unrestricted funds make up 2% and there is a need in this area. Funds in this area cover everything else AAUW does to impact women’s lives and are not restricted to a specific program.

AAUW gets its money from several sources. Dues account for 20%, individual contributions 31%, branch contributions 23%, planned giving or the Legacy Circle Program 27% and corporations/foundations 19%. AAUW operates with a balanced budget and lives within its means. It was interesting to see where our money that is sent to national goes and how AAUW does what it does to have a positive impact on women.

At a Zoom meeting on October 6, 2020, our branch joined The League of Women Voters and The Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW branch listening to their presentation of the pros and cons of the California propositions for the November election. As usual, the League of Women voters did an excellent job of outlined the propositions and then giving their recommendations as well as hearing AAUW's views.

At our Zoom Welcome Back September Brunch, we were able to chat with our friends virtually! Because of Covid, our NCCWSL representative was not able to attend the 2020 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, and the Tech Trek girls did not go to the Sonoma State Tech Trek summer camp. Our NCCWSL representative, Desiree Maurino, told us what she did this last summer and how her classes were going so far this year, vitually. The Tech Trek girls relayed any online classes they attended this summer and told us what middle school is like during the pandemic for them. We heard about all of the interesting programs and events coming up this coming year, unfortunately, all on Zoom.

Our June Brunch was held virtually, but you had to provide your own resfreshments. We were able to meet the Local Scholarship girls. Janice Walker installed the officers. Jennifer Apkarian was awarded the Barbara Newacheck award, and Helen Pereira and Diane Coventry received the Named Gift Recipients Award. It was great to see and talk to everyone, even if only on the screen.

Our first virtual AAUW General Meeting was attended by 37 members! Several items of business were conducted during our April 2020 Program, including the election of our 2020-2021 Board members. The highlight of the evening was the presentation by guest speaker Dr. Cheryl Dembe, retired Chemistry professor at DVC. Her amazing story of how she finally received her PhD in superfluidity 48 years after her research had been completed was inspiring and uplifting. She also provided her thoughts on gender equity based on her own personal experiences. In addition, Cheryl beseeched us to employ the keys to happiness in life based on attitude, gratitude, and forgiveness. It was a presentation not to be forgotten.

Our February 2020 Program speaker, Audrey Goins Cormier, discussed how we as women can lead, mentor and impact our families, our communities and the lives of others – especially young women. Since retirement she has been very active setting up programs for girls and minorities at the Richmond Boys and Girls Club among other activities focused on the theme of diversity and inclusion with particular focus on young women and minorities. We found her positive enthusiasm inspirational and uplifting.

Our annual, well attended, AAUW Soup Supper in January 2020 was a very successful evening. So many homemade soups, delicious cornbread, sourdough bread, and wonderful desserts were enjoyed by all! Our speaker, Hiro Okawachi, a biology teacher at Alhambra High for many years, related the experience of his family being relocated from Matinez, when World War II began, to the Santa Rita Camp in Topaz, Utah.

The Silver Bells Holiday party was a huge success. Gourmet food. Festive atmosphere. Great entertainment by Carol Walsh's quartet, Any Wednesday. A wonderful time was had by all. Thank you Margi Alkire and committee for organizing such an enjoyable party.

Carlyn Obringer, the youngest female Mayor in Concord history, was the speaker at our November 2019 Program. Carlyn told us how she became involved in local politics and her experiences as a woman entering into this area of society. She explained the many programs and projects taking place in the City of Concord and how they are of regional significance and will impact the bordering communities of Martinez, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek. Among these are transportation issues and traffic movement solutions. She spoke in detail regarding the Concord Naval Weapons Station Land Use Plan.

Clinical social worker, Vivica Taylor, who heads the Mt. Diablo School District’s homeless student programs, gave a dynamic talk at our October 2019 Program that explained why the District's School and Community Relations department has state, national and local social organization recognition. The school year has just passed its first quarter and already there are 700 identified homeless students at all grade levels receiving services. These services range from free lunches, to help with medical care, and finding housing or shelter during the winter. Local churches, including St. Andrews, take turns providing food and shelter from autumn through spring through a program called Winter Nights.

Homeless is a general term which includes families living with relatives or friends for short periods of time and those living in their cars or in crowded shelters. Both students and parents tend to be very quiet and polite, taking the food or clothing offered to them and then disappearing. Many study very hard and nearly all are well-behaved in class so as not to attract attention. Vivica’s stories focused on the seriousness of the problem, especially in a large urban/suburban district such as Mt. Diablo.

Our Welcome Back September Brunch was just lovely. We heard from our Tech Trek girls about what they did at the Sonoma State Tech Trek summer camp. Our NCCWSL representative, Lili Eshtehar, told us about her experiences at the 2019 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. And one of our 2015 Local Scholarship recipients, Diane Neypes, spoke to us about her college experience and how our scholarship was so important to her. We heard about all of the interesting programs and events coming up this next year. A delicious brunch and great to catch up with all of our friends.

Thank you, Sandy Wolfe for hosting Wine and Cheese with a Purpose, a mini scholarship fundraiser in July 2019. Sandy's backyard was a lovely setting for spouses and friends to mingle with members. It was a time to visit with old and new friends while enjoying our beautiful summer weather. And we raised funds for Tech Trek (enough to send a girl to camp!) and Local Scholarships. Thank goodness the temperature stayed comfortable. A lovely event.

At our 2019 June Brunch, we met and congratulated our 5 Local Scholarship girls and the 6 Tech Trek finalists. Harriett Burt was awarded the Barbara Newacheck award, and Pat Harris and Marge Murger received the Named Gift certificate. Jennifer Apcarian installed our incoming officers with an animal theme. Very clever and entertaining. Delicous food and enjoyment by all.

AAUW Game Day was held April 30, 2019 at the Brookview Clubhouse. This fundraiser was held to raise money for the AAUW National Legal Advocacy Fund. We raised $219.00 for LAF. Participants played Bridge, Mah Jongg and Mexican Train. Prizes were awarded and light refreshments were served. A big thank you to the planning committee: Claudia Bass, Muriel Fry, Jennifer Apkarian and Gayle Miner. Also thank you to the many people who brought refreshments.

Molly Murphy MacGregor, co-founder and Executive Director of the National Women’s History Alliance, was our guest speaker in April 2019. It is now the centennial year of women obtaining the right to vote, since the 19th Amendment passed both the House and Senate in 1919. She and others have worked to provide information and training for educators, community organizations, and parents on women’s contributions to US history. Molly is a very passionate, engaging, and inspiring speaker.

Our March 2019 speaker was Dr. Fred Wood, the Chancellor of the Contra Costa Community District. He is an articulate and enthusiastic advocate for our junior college system, which currently serves over 51,000 students at three colleges and two centers. He spoke about the future of DVC and the other associated colleges. A very informative evening. A special thanks to Muriel Fry for bringing 61 cupcakes to celebrate her 61 years in AAUW!

Our February 2019 speaker, Dianna Vanni Stephenson, though she loved her classes in science and math, told the story of her experiences as a female science student in all levels of university study. She explained how difficult it was for women science majors to pursue an education, not because of their intellect, but because of extreme, callous, and accepted discrimination by professors and male students. Dianna’s story and the popularity of Tech Trek encourage all of us in AAUW to raise money for science scholarships and to encourage young women to follow their interests and their dreams like Dianna did, despite the short-sighted and unfair barriers.

Our annual, well attended, AAUW Soup Supper in January 2019 was a very successful evening in spite of the rain. So many homemade soups, delicious cornbread, sourdough bread, and wonderful desserts were enjoyed by all! Our speaker, Budd MacKenzie, told us his journey to help Afghans rebuild their lives and country. An inspiring and heartfelt story. Quite a wonderful evening.

The 2018 Candy Cane Lane Holiday party was fun and entertaining.Check out the red and white attire. Great food and company. Sandy Woufe provided us with engaging entertainment. Lots of smiles, laughs, and groans. Happy Holidays to everyone.

Our November Program speaker, Betty Reid Soskin, presented a fascinating and compelling description of her 97 years, beginning with her childhood in New Orleans to her adult life in the East Bay, including becoming a famous National Park Ranger at the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park museum in Richmond. Betty calmly and honestly depicted life at its best and its hardest for an African American Creole woman from the 1920s to now.

Magic was in the air! Our branch was treated to a special show at California Magic Theater in downtown Martinez. We didn't have far to go to enjoy a delicious dinner and mesmerizing magic. A very entertaining evening, enjoyed by all.

At our October 2018 Program, Kay James, from the League of Women Voters, explained the state propositions to us. Everyone attending was given a “cheat sheet” listing the propositions, and she reviewed the pros and cons of each. It was quite a list. Now we have to deterimne how to vote. This was a very well attended program and extremely informative.

Our September 2018 Welcome Brunch was lovely as always. Seeing friends and meeting new members. The Tech Trek girls are always the highlight of the morning, when they tell us about their camp experiences. Great food. A sunny day. We learned about all of the upcoming events, programs, interest groups, and more.

Our June 2018 Brunch included awarding scholarships to local high school seniors and tech trek middle school girls, installing our new officers, as well as honoring several of our members. Congratulations to Gayle Miner for receiving the yearly Barbara Newacheck Award, and Jennifer Apcarian and Claudia Bass for beingthe Names Gift Honoree recipients. Another lovely event to end this year's acitivities. Great food and company.

At our April 2018 Program, Mary Volmerthe, founding Director of the Saint Mary's College honors program and Collegiate Seminar and an English instructor, told us about women of the California Gold rush and women's rights' reformers in the years following the American Civil War. She is the author of two novels: Crown of Dust and Reliance, Illinois. She earned a BA from Saint Mary's College, where she also played basketball, and an MA from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Mary treated us to a great discussion.

Charmen Goehring, the Public Policy Co-Chair for AAUW CA, spoke at our March 2018 Program about our AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund. She has had 2 terms on AAUW's National Board and is in her 2nd term on the California State Board. She explained how LAF reviews all legislation coming before the California legislature and that they have chosen 31 bills that AAUW will actively support this coming year. She detailed 4 to 5 cases nationally that LAF is giving financial support. Charmen was a very delightful and energetic speaker, answering questions at the end.

Our February 2018 speaker, Ann Notarangelo, a former award winning Bay Area journalist, is currently manager of Shell Martinez Refinery’s internal and external communications department, community outreach, and social investment programs. She is involved in the community and helps with various nonprofits, emceeing events throughout the East Bay, volunteering her time for many organizations including SHELTER, Inc. and The Contra Costa Women’s Commission. We enjoyed Ann's presentation, and her dedication to her work.

Our annual, well attended, AAUW Soup Supper in January 2018 was a very successful evening in spite of the rain. Seventeen homemade soups, delicious cornbread, garlic bread, specialty bread, and wonderful desserts were enjoyed by all! Note Harriett's perfect soup bowl. Former Congressman George Miller entertained the audience with his wit and wisdom while discussing the political climate of his forty years in Washington and the changes since then. A fun evening indeed!

Our November 2017 program was a fun filled adventure. Our members had the opportunity to visit the S.T.E.A.M. (Science-TechnologyEngineering-Arts-Math) lab at Las Juntas School in Martinez. After an introduction by Crystal Castaneda, Principal, we met Shell engineers, Katie Clasen and Jackie Brew, active participants who helped set up the lab. We had hands on experience in the Lab – robots, electrical circuits, lego challenge cards, engineering projects and so much more. We saw how teachers are working to integrate S.T.E.A.M. into the school experience. We were amazed!

Sally Van Slyke, our October 2017 Program speaker, talked about her Hollywood career and her award-winning Wild Thyme Catering and Event Management Company. She related her experiences as the Executive Director of Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa County taking on the role of Culinary Training Director for a new and innovative program, giving back to the community.

Our September 2017 Welcome Brunch was lovely as always. Seeing friends and meeting new members. The Tech Trek girls are always the highlight of the morning, when they tell us about their camp experiences. Great food. A beautiful day. We learned about all of the upcoming events, programs, interest groups, and more.

Our July 2017 Summer Social was spectacular. The theme was Celebrating Together! A total of 136 years. 70 years (Martinez Branch), 60 years (Pleasant Hill Branch), and 6 years (Pleasant Hill-Martinez Branch TOGETHER!). Thank you Nancy and Kent Hobert for hosting this fabulous event. Gourmet food. Great company. Check out the picture below of all our combined presidents.

Our May 2017 Brunch included awarding scholarships to local high school seniors and tech trek middle school girls, installing our new officers, as well as honoring several of our members. Congratulations to Trinka March for receiving the yearly Barbara Newacheck Award. Another lovely event to end this year's acitivities. Good food and great company.

Dena Al-Adeeb, an AAUW fellow and Ph.D Candidate, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, spoke at our April Program about the 2003 invasion of Iraq from an Iraqi feminist point of view. All attendees enjoyed a potluck dinner and time to get to meet Dena.

Martinez resident Tim Farley shared his fascination with government and politics at the March AAUW program. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Contra Costa County Community College District and Director of Government and Community Affairs at Saint Mary’s College. Tim discussed the Electoral College history and procedures, and his being able to vote on it two times. He taught a January term class on the inauguration and what it entails, and took his students to the inaugural and the women’s march. He closed with some fascinating political trivia – such as the meaning of the 5 huge flags hung behind the speaker’s dais at the inauguration.

Pleasant Hill-Martinez AAUW members celebrated Black History month at our February meeting. Gayle Garrison reviewed the lives and art of black artists, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Clemintine Hunter. Suzanne Mesetz discussed quilts and their history in the black community, as described in the book "Hidden in Plain Sight". She showed a quilt she made and pointed out the meaning of each of the squares. Suzanne Salter led us in singing several black spirituals, and Gayle ended the meeting with a pop quiz to see how knowledgeable we were about black history. We then feasted on baked potatoes with a variety of toppings and cornbread.

Our Annual 2017 International Soup Supper was a huge success, as always. What a variety of delicious soups, desserts and bread. Dianna Vanni Matthias, a local Martinez retired DVC Oceanography Instructor, discussed "Plastic Pollution Around Oceanic Islands", entailing her six summers spent as a volunteer on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean. Dianna honored her UC Berkeley mentor, Carol Baier, one of our Pleasant Hill-Martinez Life Members. Carol, being a trailblazer, was Dianna's inspiration that encouraged her to pursue this vital environmental work.

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Our 2016 Razzle Dazzle Holiday Party was very festive and relaxing. Good company, food, and enjoyable entertainment. Happy Holidays to all.

John Trtek, a volunteer at the Richmond Red Oak Victory Ship, related the history of the ship and why it is especially symbolic of our country’s ideals. It was a very interesting and informative program.

Bart Director Gail Murray, our October 2016 Program speaker, discussed the $3.5 billion Bond Measure RR on the November ballot to rebuild their aging system to increase safety, and reliability as well as help with traffic relief.

Our September 2016 Welcome Brunch was lovely as always. Seeing friends and meeting new members. The Tech Trek girls are always the highlight of the morning, when they tell us about their camp experiences. Great food. A beautiful day. We learned about all of the upcoming events, programs, interest groups, and more.

Our June 2016 Brunch included awarding scholarships to local high school seniors and tech trek middle school girls, installing our new officers, as well as honoring several of our members. Congratulations to Janice Walker for receiving the yearly Barbara Newacheck Award. Another lovely event to end this year's acitivities. Good food and good company.

Our April Program speaker, Camille Minichino, a scientist, teacher, and writer, talked about her experience as a physics major, at a time when very few women pursued careers in science. Her explanation of transitioning to a mystery writer was very entertaining. What a remarkable woman.

In March, members and friends enjoyed a Game Day of Bridge, Mah Jongg, and dominoes to support AAUW Funds and Tech Trek, a math/science camp for middle school girls.

At our March Program, Phyllis Bratt talked about the journey to achieve the women’s right to vote both in Britain and America. She shared some pictures of her collection of suffrage memorabilia which include postcards, newspapers and magazines, handbills, photographs, china, buttons, and badges. Phyllis told us stories of the amazing women to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude.

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, a women's rights' advocate, told us about her life experiences at our February meeting. Growing up in a Latino family, she overcame so many obsticles to become a highly-decorated military veteran and bilingual STEM Consultant to K-12 school districts. Her stories were inspirational.

The January Soup Supper event is always so popular. Great soups and desserts. Marty Brounstein told a fascinating true to life story with a personal family connection.

Here are the soups and the soup makers. You may contact them for their recipes.

Soup maker Soup Soup Maker Soup Soup maker Soup Soup Maker Soup
Marie Cattalini Vichyssoise Trinka March Tortilla Joan Foster Split Pea Jennifer Apkarian Lentil
Helen Pereira Minestrone Sherrie Moore Matzah Ball Priscilla Tudor Beef Barley Joy Barden Spicy Tortellini
Susan Lawson Pumpkin with Sausage Mary Hanlon Italian Sausage Nancy Hobert Wild Rice Carol Walsh Mulligatawny
Gayle Garrison Potato-Corn Chowder SarahJoy Haynes Broccoli Cheese Ish Mendonsa Chicken Noodle Andrea Blachman Clam Chowder
Janet Sullivan Chicken with rice and carrots Marlene De Lauranti Cream of Cauliflower Elena Noble Greek

The 2015 Razzle Dazzle Holiday party was quite popular. Great food, good company, and delightful entertainment by the Alhambra High School String Quartet.
Happy Holidays to everyone.

At our November meeting, Margaret Zhao, a local award-winning author, related stories from her memoir book, Really Enough. She was an entertaining speaker with a powerful story.

Thank you, Marilyn Thelen, for hosting our September 2015 Brunch in your beautiful backyard. We always enjoy hearing the camp experiences of the Tech Trek girls. The Brunch food was delicious, provided by our generous members. We all look forward to this event.

The 2015 Summer Social was a relaxing, enjoyable time for all who attended. A great setting. Thank you Shelley Jacobson for chairing this event.

Our May 2015 Brunch included awarding scholarships to local high school seniors and tech trek middle school girls, installing our new officers, as well as honoring several of our members. Congratulations to Sherrie Moore for receiving the yearly Barbara Newacheck Award. Another lovely event to end this year's acitivities. Good food and good company.

Alicia Helman was an inspirational speaker addressing Title IX issues at our April 2015 Program. Our Pleasant Hill-Martinez branch hosted the event with the Concord AAUW branch.

For our March 2015 Program, we were treated to “Taking Tea in the English Manner” by tea expert Susan Leech, followed by a lovely tea of tasty sandwiches, scones and desserts. Our members presented their best china and tea cups to create beautiful table settings for us. Janice Walker and her Tech Trek committee did a great job providing food and a grand decor. All for a worthwhile cause -- to send four of our local middle school girls to Tech Trek math/science camp this summer. A wonderful time was had by all who attended.

Superintendents Rami Muth of Martinez Unified School District and Mt. Diablo USD superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer discussed the successes and the issues facing our local school districts, at our November 2014 Program. They explained the transition to the common core state standards and gave examples of the impact this has for teaching and learning. It was an excellent program highlighting the challenges facing our schools.

At our October meeting, the League of Women Voters did an excellent job of explaining to our members the pros and cons of the propositions on the November ballot.

Our Book Club meets monthly to review and discuss current and classic books.

Bridge and Mah Jongg are two popular Interest Groups. Mah Jongg is new this year, and Bridge has many groups, players of different levels.