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Community Action

For many years we have organized and sponsored community candidates’ night for local offices. Several of our members have been selected as Citizen of the Year at their annual recognition dinners. Seven current and past branch members have served on a local school board, some in the capacity of President, and three are past or current members of the City Council and Planning Commission. These past few years, several of our members have been honored by Pleasant Hill and Martinez. During local, state and national elections, many of our members have worked at polling places.

Bobbi Horack has served on the Martinez school board for 8 years and was elected to a third term in 2018. She is excited to see what our community has done for our schools in passing bonds and shouldering taxes that allow us to continue to provide an exemplary education and to ensure safety in well designed schools.

The 2016 Alhambra High School Homecoming Grand Marshal was Harriett Burt, one of our community superheroes. Many Martinez residents call her “Ms. Martinez.” She emcees at most public events, including the Alhambra High School Homecoming Parade, Martinez Youth Baseball Parade, the Italian Street Painting Festival, and Martinez Arts Association’s Art in the Park Festival. She was a teacher and later vice principal at the high school from 1962 to 1980. She was a reporter, acting society editor, community editor, and later managing editor of the Martinez News Gazette, from 1969 to 1978. And from 1983 to 1990, she was the community, society and feature editor.

She has been in public service, as a City Council member from 1992 to 1996, and was on the Parking Place Commission from 1988 to 1990 and the Planning Commission from 1999 to 2013. She became the first woman chosen president of the Martinez Boys and Girls Club, and has been president of our Martinez AAUW, Martinez Soroptimist Club and Martinez Education Association. She often welcomes prospective jurors to jury duty on Mondays. Harriett is a volunteer at the Martinez Historical Society, and also volunteers at the Contra Costa County History Center. Congratulations, Harriett! You deserve this honor.

Barbara Chambers had been chosen Martinez 2015 Woman of the Year. Besides being a Pleasant Hill-Martinez AAUW member, she is the Treasurer and Chair of the City Easter Egg Hunt in the Martinez Lions Club, the 1st Vice President of the Martinez Lioness Club, the Secretary of the Martinez Historical Society Board of Directors, and on the Board of Directors and past president of the Lions Center for the Visually Impaired. For her part in the Main St Martinez Promotions Committee, she welcomes and greet jurors once a week and tells them about our history and the highlights of Martinez. She also works hands on for many of these organizations in other capacities and is involved in many community projects and fundraisers. Congratulations, Barbara.

Suzanne Salter received the 2013 PHCF (Pleasant Hill Community Foundation) Cornerstone award for her work with The Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District's Capital Campaign to raise funds to furnish the new Teen Center, Senior Center and Community Center. Suzanne has served on the Board of Directors of the Pleasant Hill Community Foundation for 12 years. The past 5 years she has been their Treasurer. The mission of the Pleasant Hill Community Foundation is to strengthen our community by, annual each Spring, giving grants to educational, recreational and cultural organization in our community. Since 1995 the PHCF has accepted tax deductible donations to be distributed back to our community.

Andrea Blachman has been honored with Martinez’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award. Andrea has been the director of the Martinez Museum for 10 years and previously worked with the Clayton Historical Society. She also works closely with the Contra Costa County Historical Society. The museum is open to the public three days a week, and is operated completely by volunteers. Docents are responsible for cataloging donations and storing them properly, changing displays and helping people with research. Martinez is very proud of their history, and the community has been very generous with their family histories. Everything has been donated. Andrea appreciates the many volunteers at the Martinez Historical Society. Martinez has a very diverse history, ethnically and culturally and socio-economically. Andrea loves history. Understanding our local, Martinez history is very important to her. She feels that we have to understand where we come from and why things are the way they are.

Our members are active in community organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club, the Friends of Library and the Education Foundation. We participate actively in the annual Pleasant Hill City Service Day, a city wide day of improving chosen projects throughout the city. For many years, branch members have actively participated in extending fine arts education in local school districts and awarding individual student achievement in all classes at the high school level. We have also organized community forums to educate parents and the community at large about such subjects as the impact of the internet on our youth and worked to support school bond elections.

Scholarships to local girls

At our 2020 Zoom June meeting, we presented college scholarship awards to six young women from our local schools. It is the mission of AAUW to break down barriers for women and girls by promoting education and supporting their personal and professional growth.

College Scholarships
Six very deserving High School Seniors were recognized for excelling in their high school years, not only with excellent grades, but also in community service and leadership ability. They were each awarded a $1,000 AAUW scholarship in recognition of their achievements. This year’s recipients of Pleasant Hill-Martinez AAUW Scholarships are Olivia Cervantes Llamas, Emma Cardinale and Anna Szakats from College Park High School, and Sierra Dabby, Layla Gomes, and Fatima Lizarde from Alhambra High School.

In the Fall, Olivia is going to UCLA and majoring in International Development Studies, Emma is going to St. Mary's and will be studying Allied Health Services, and Anna is headed to Purdue University and majoring in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Sierra will attend UC Berkeley and will be studying Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Layla is off to Sonoma State University studying Biochemistry, and Fatima will attend USC with a major in Political Science and a related subject, probably History.

Pleasant Hill-Martinez is proud to award these young women our 2020 scholarships. We strongly support the Local Scholarship Fund through several fundraisers including our Silent Coffee Klatch, proceeds from our grand Slammer Bridge group, as well as individual member donations.

Tech Trek, a program of AAUW California started in 1998, is a Science and Math camp aimed to encourage girls who will be entering eighth grade in the fall to consider careers in (STEM) science/technology/engineering/math. The camp features hands-on activities in math, science, and related fields. All sleeping, eating, instructional, and recreational facilities are located on a variety of university campuses throughout California where camps are held. Campers are exposed to programs in fields such as astronomy, engineering, chemistry, marine biology, and environmental studies to enhance their learning experience and introduce the students to a variety of potential career areas.

In 2020, six girls from Martinez and Pleasant Hill were selected to attend the Tech Trek camp in June at the Sonoma State University campus. We have chosen the following girls from our local Pleasant Hill and Martinez schools: Elizabeth McCauley, Jaap Kaur, and Chiara Ke from Martinez Junior High, Morgan Short from Valley View, Sophia Mac from Sequoia Middle, and Afra Sadeghi from Pleasant Hill Middle. Congratulations to these girls.

Unfortumately, because of the epedemic, Tech Trek Camp 2020 has been cancelled. For the safety of the girls and our branch members and volunteers, AAUW California announced the cancellation of the 2020 Summer Tech Trek camp season. While the coronavirus situation is ever evolving, it is clear at this time that the risk of contracting the coronavirus will be with us for a while – particularly in close quarters areas such as college/university facilities. These girls will not be attending camp this year, but we plan to offer them some alternatives, possible digital formats, to keep their interest in STEM alive as they move forward in their education.

Our Tech Trek program is supported and funded by our members and local organizations. Shell Oil, the Martinez Kiwanis Club, and the Martinez Rotary have given us grants, proceeds from attending a DVC play performance and individual member donations. Our members are very generous to support this local cause. Thanks to all.

The SAM Program - Student Art & Music
Mary Walters was a very active and beloved member of the Pleasant Hill AAUW branch. In addition she was involved in many Pleasant Hill community activities for many years. An awards ceremony was held at Fair Oaks Elementary School to thank Ken Walters for providing annual funding from the Mary Walters Memorial Fund, established through the Pleasant Hill Community Foundation following her death in 2003, to the SAM program at the school.

The program was created and presented for many years by Mary McGhee with the assistance of the Pleasant Hill-Martinez AAUW members. It focuses on a hands-on art project and a major musician during the school year for students grades K-5.

A tribute to Marilyn Tubbs was displayed prominently on the Fair Oaks campus. Marilyn, who passed away in 2013, was the greatest advocate of the program and dedicated her time and energy assisting the students and staff, and coordinating our volunteer effort. She is missed by all.

March 2020, Barbara Minneman, Sherrie Moore, and Diane Coventry taught SAM classes at Fair Oaks for TK - 5th grade students. We studied the artist Henri Matisse and the composer Ravel. Matisse is known for his vibrant colors, patterns and cutout work of "drawing with scissors". We listened to Ravel's Bolero. This year we partnered with the music department. Their music teacher incorporated Ravel and Bolero into her curriculum for all grades. And the orchestra teacher performed string music selections for several classes. By cutting out shapes from bright and patterned paper, each student created a different, interesting composition. Thanks to all of our volunteers. We couldn't have done it without you!

March 2019, Barbara Minneman, Diane Coventry, and Sherrie Moore conducted SAM classes at Fair Oaks. We studied the artist Wassily Kandinsky and the composer Modest Mussorgsky. Kandinsky drew shapes and used vibrant cool and warm colors. We listened to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The primary grade students drew colorful shapes on white tagboard, and the intermediate grades painted birch rounds with tempera paint. Look at this beautiful artwork.

February 2018, Suzanne Mesetz continued the SAM program by engaging the Fair Oaks students in cave painting and chanting. The students in each classroom used charcoal to draw animals that may have been found in caves millions of years ago.

Macy's Fashion Show to support Tech Trek

In December 2018, our branch held a fashion show fundraiser at Macy's to support Tech Trek. The 9 fabuous models were members of our branch. Lots of fun and excitement, and we raised $340. Thanks, Elena, for organizing this awesome event.

Annual Layette Shower

Baby gifts are generously donated for the Hillcrest Church Social Service Program at our Annual Layette Shower . We receive so many beautiful items-- hand-made quilts, afghans, receiving blankets and hats, and adorable baby clothes---sleepers, newborn outfits, saques, sweaters, booties, socks, and undershirts. Toys and diapers as well. We send a big pile of newborn necessities for happy babies and grateful Moms.

December 2019

December 2018

November 2017

January 2016

January 2015


A Salute to Spring was our 2018 spectacular May fundraiser. Proceeds from this event go to Tech Trek, Local Scholarships, and AAUW Fund. Janice Walker and Marlene De Laurenti would like to thank Cheryl and Dick Buscaglia for hosting this event in their lovely backyard. And a big thanks to the many committee members who helped by providing hearty appetizers, bitesize desserts, hand crafted specialty items, and baskets for our silent auction. All of the gift cards, baskets, paintings, jewelry, catered champagne brunch, hand made wooden items, quilted placemats, along with the 50/50 raffle, were a big success. Enjoyable for all.

Painting with a Purpose for Tech Trek

We all enjoyed being an artist for the day at our November fundraiser, Painting with a Purpose, which raised $350 for our Tech Trek campers. The members who attended each painted Starry Night over the Golden Gate to support this wothwhile cause. Look how the paintings are all so unique. Everyone had a great time and came home with a masterpiece.

Bowling Blast Tournament for Tech Trek and AAUW Fund

AAUW Fund and Tech Trek hosted a Bowling Tournament at Paddock Bowl in November 2018. Fun was had by all! Although only 4 teams took part in the tournament, we raised $380 to be split between the two committees. The Alley Cats were the winning team, which consisted of Helen Pereira, Lorraine Wieder, Jean Wood, and Shirley Swan. Jennifer Apkarian won the 50/50 raffle in the amount of $97 plus a bowling ball that was donated to us by Paddock Bowl.

What a fun-filled afternoon when we held our Bowling Blast Tournament in November 2017 to raise money for AAUW Fund and Tech Trek. Happiness, excitement and joy spread between lanes 15 - 20. We made a profit of $523.00 to be shared between Tech Trek and Fund. The winning team, headed by Diane Coventry, went home with a bottle of delicious wine for each team member. Bob Bass was the winner of $125.00 from the 50/50 raffle.

A Taste of Fall was our 2016 spectacular Fall fundraiser. Proceeds from this event go to Tech Trek, Local Scholarships, and AAUW Fund. Sherrie Moore and Marlene De Laurenti would like to thank Margie and Lou Pruitt for hosting this event in their lovely backyard. And a big thanks to the many committee members who helped by providing hearty appetizers, bitesize desserts, hand crafted specialty items, and baskets for our silent auction. All of the gift cards, baskets, paintings, jewelry, catered gourmet dinner, hand made wooden trays, quilted placemats, along with the 50/50 raffle, were a big success. A beautiful day. Great music provided by a local College Park Jazz Band.

The 2015 Festa Italiana was our Fall Fundraiser at Viano winery in Martinez. Proceeds from this event go to AAUW educational funds which provide local and national academic scholarships for women based on achievement and need.

The SAM Program - Student Art & Music

The Spring of 2016, Mary McGhee had the Fair Oaks students recreate Claude Monet's The Water Lily Pond while listening to a musical piece by Debussy.

Fall 2014, students listened to Vivaldi's Four seasons violin concerto. Mary McGhee then showed them step by step how to create and paint Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

Spring of 2014, the students learned to recognize Beethoven's 5th Symphony and learn about his life and the time period in which he lived. Since there were no photographs yet, the students practiced drawing portraits like the famous artists at that time.

Piet Mondrian, a Dutch artist, who used primary colors in his paintings, was the inspiration for the art project last Fall. The students learned how to mix colors to create the Color Wheel using crayons and water colors. They listened to music by Duke Ellington and learned about Jazz and riding the A Train to Harlem. In the past, the students were able to work with clay.

Some of our members and their husbands helped out at the Fair Oaks Breakfast with Santa in December. We helped with set up by putting together the book and food baskets for the raffle and organizing the craft table for the students. We served the delicious pancake and sausage breakfast, and then helped with the clean up at the end. A fun time was had by all. Come join us next year.