January 8, 2009
Giving money to feed people in need
WOMEN FIGHT HUNGER- The
WOMEN FIGHT HUNGER- The
Women's Club marks 40 years of philanthropic work
About 50 women gathered at the Westlake Village Inn recently to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Westlake Women's Club, a philanthropic nonprofit group that has raised thousands of dollars for local, regional and national charities.
Nine past presidents attended the breakfast that included speeches relating fond memories of the city's early days and the group's formation in 1968.
"I can hardly believe that 40 years have gone by since we sat in our new homes in Westlake and marveled at how lucky we were to live here," said Helene Ross, a former president.
Seated at tables decorated with balloons and cake centerpieces, the women listened as Ross described how residents formed the group to unite the neighborhood and to "give back" to the developing community.
In those days there was only one stoplight in the city, at Westlake Boulevard and Agoura Road. Westlake Lake was still being dug, and many city streets were still dirt roads.
"It was an exciting time," Ross said.
The club's first event, a membership tea, attracted five people. A year later the group held its first fashion show, an event that has become an annual fundraiser attended by hundreds.
"I laugh when I think about our fashion shows today. It was so formal back then that we used only our husbands' names to identify ourselves," Ross said.
The cost to join the club was $25, considered a hefty sum at the time, said Dee Morrow.
"The club has been such a wonderful experience for me. I am so grateful for the wonderful friends I have made and continue to make," Morrow said.
Another event the club organized was an ecology fair put on by Westlake High School students. The club also held a doll fair and had a dollhouse raffle that was won by a boy.
"Fortunately he had sisters," Morrow said.
Doris Rufener joined the Westlake group in 1971. The club asked her to start a support program for a group of boys at Camarillo State Hospital. Rufener and other members visited regularly, bringing picnics and birthday gifts until the hospital closed in the 1990s.
"It was one of the things we loved doing the most," Rufener said.
When a Vietnamese refugee family relocated to Thousand Oaks, the Women's Club helped pay their living expenses, found the husband a job, furnished their apartment and secured a scholarship for one of the children at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The family returned to the club several times to keep members updated. The children eventually graduated from college, and the father opened his own business.
"We supported the family until they really got on their feet," Rufener said.
Rufener recounted other club efforts, including landscaping the 101 Freeway offramps at Lindero Canyon Road and Westlake Boulevard; supporting two local families through Habitat for Humanity; fundraising for Mary Health of the Sick nursing facility in Newbury Park and the Women's Resource Center in Thousand Oaks; and paying for the training and delivery of a guide dog for a visionimpaired Conejo Valley resident.
The club also awards thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to area high school seniors.
"We have done so much," Rufener said. "Our emphasis has changed a little bit, but we still are a wonderful service club."
Offshoots of the club include a working women's group that meets in the evenings and the Westlake Junior Women's Club, which holds its own fundraisers and special events.
In addition to Rufener and Ross, other past presidents in attendance were Elettra Sorrentino, Norma Callero, Liz Lightfoot, Cate Brown, Trudy Heinzer and Betty Horner. The current president is Karen Bradley.
"Pat yourselves on the back whether you were a president or not. It couldn't have been done without you," Bradley said.
Sorrentino drove from her home in Palm Springs to celebrate the milestone.
"You are still going strong. I am really proud," said Sorrentino, who led the group from 1992-94.
The club now has 89 members, with new members continuing to join, Heinzer said.
"If God gives you a few things you should give back," said Heinzer, who left the club when she and her family moved to the East Coast in 1986 before returning in 1997.
"The friends you make in this club are for a lifetime."
Women's club donates $75,000
Westlake Women's Club donated almost $75,000 during the past year to area charities and causes.
Recipients include Conejo Valley Neighborhood for Learning, Many MansionsStoll House, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children-Ventura County, Painted Turtle Camp in HughesElizabeth Lakes, Veterans Administration, Hospice of the Conejo, Ventura County Search and Rescue, and National Disaster Search Dogs Foundation.
Money was also given to area scholarships, library and literacy programs.
The club raises funds through their fundraisers Fashions on Parade, Holiday Fantasy Tea Luncheon and a Summer Winedown, a wine and food-pairing event.
Westlake Women's Club is a nonprofit organization open to women of the greater Conejo Valley area. Its theme for the year is "making a difference."
Women's club awards scholarships
The Scholarship Committee of Westlake Women's Club awarded $20,000 in scholarship funds and music awards to graduating seniors from the seven Conejo Valley high schools and communication schools.
The awards this year include a new scholarship, which was presented to Angelina Vitto of Newbury Park High School.
Shi Tong Cassy Wang of Thousand Oaks High School received the Westlake Women's Club Karen Rufener Scholarship.
Additional scholarships and awards were given to Kelly McBride and Daniel Jonokuchi from Agoura High School, Kelli Kay from Oak Park High School, Chau Vu from Newbury Park High School, Angela Garboski from Thousand Oaks High School and Jasmine Hayes and Heartlyn Haynes from Westlake High School.
Women's club previews summer fashions
Models show the latest summer fashions at the Westlake Women's Club's annual spring fundraiser. The event included lunch, a silent auction, boutiques and a fashion show produced by The Oaks mall. Left, Westlake Village resident Arlene Sims applauds her favorite styles. Proceeds from the event will go to local charities.
Club hosts wine tasting for charity
The Westlake Women's Club will host the third annual "Summer Wine Down" wine and food tasting from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 3 in the Lakeside Room and Wine Cellar at the Westlake Village Inn, 31943 Agoura Road, Westlake Village.
Guests may taste wines, sample cuisines from Conejo Valley restaurants, hear live music, and bid on silent auction items such as valuable wines and dining experiences. The grand prize is a 20-bottle wine cabinet stocked with red and white wines valued at about $400.
"Regardless of your wine tasting experience, from the first timer to the more demanding wine connoisseur, we will have wines for every palate to enjoy," said Kymberly Horner, event cochair.
Lesley Dollinger, wine expert with more than 30 years experience in Napa Valley wines, will deliver a "Red Wines 101" presentation and share tips on how to distinguish red wine varieties by color, aroma, flavor and texture.
Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Monies raised will be used for local charities.
Founded in 1968, the Westlake Women's Club is a federated, all-volunteer organization that raises funds for local, regional and national charities. Club meetings are open to the public and are held monthly.