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Native Daughters - Organization Strives To Preserve California History, Help The Community
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Past Grand President Marilyn Rickett, left, and current Oakdale Parlor #125 President Stephanie Kerr are active members with the Native Daughters of the Golden West. The organization was formed in Jackson, Amador County, in 1886. - photo by Virginia Still/The Leader

The mission statement reads: “The mission of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, as one of the oldest associations of diverse California born leaders, is to preserve California’s history and better the quality of life through active participation in education and community service.” Across the state and through the local Oakdale Parlor, the Native Daughters of the Golden West (N.D.G.W.) is a society of women that are born in California and are dedicated to the preservation of California’s history. They are a patriotic organization founded on the principles of ‘Love of Home,’ ‘Devotion to the Flag,’ ‘Veneration of the Pioneers,’ and ‘Faith in the Existence of God.’

Anyone, 16 years of age and older who was born in California can apply to become a member. You must join through a local parlor and you must show your birth certificate. The organization has parlors throughout California and a list of parlors is available on the website,, or call 800-994-NDGW for more information about the Native Daughters and how to get involved. Stockton, Modesto, Los Banos, Merced, and Mariposa are all in the same district as Oakdale, with multiple districts across the state.

The Oakdale Parlor was instituted on April 17, 1901. Currently, Oakdale has 41 members ranging in ages from 21 to 93. Stephanie Kerr is the current president of the Oakdale Parlor #125 and Marilyn Rickett is the current secretary. Both officers said they would like to see the membership increase and are actively looking for new members to join.

Native Daughters of the Golden West are involved in various projects such as their own non-profit 501(c)3 Children’s Foundation, an effort that Kerr said is very important to them. Some of the things that they have done to help children who need assistance in gaining access to care are to provide van lifts for kids in wheelchairs, provide the wheelchairs, hearing aids for babies and braces.

“It is very important because it is for children, children in need,” said Kerr.

Youngsters that might not otherwise get that help are the ones the Native Daughters are looking to serve.

“We are here for the kids that fall through the cracks,” said Rickett.

Members also can be found locally at community events, such as running the popcorn machine or hosting a table with games for the kids, like at the recent Halloween festival at the Oakdale Community Center.

Another area that is extremely important to the non-profit organization, locally and as a whole, is preserving California’s history and promoting the cultural development of the state.

“Several different buildings in Oakdale have been landmarked by us, so that they are not torn down,” stated Kerr of getting special designations for the buildings. “It’s very important to maintain historical sites.”

The group also places commemorative markers on historic sites so that future generations can appreciate California’s history. The other activities that they participate in throughout the state include lighthouse preservation, California Missions restoration, recycling, energy awareness, water conservation, and scholarships.

Every year the Oakdale Parlor #125 presents a scholarship to an Oakdale High School student. They also “adopt” a veteran every year that they send gifts and other items to throughout the year.

“We support the veterans,” said Kerr.

As a group last year, the local parlor took 24 knitted caps for newborns to the Oak Valley Hospital maternity ward and put together stockings with toiletries for the homeless adults in Oakdale. The members gather for meetings every first and third Monday of the month at the clubhouse at River Paradise Mobile Home Park, 900 Old Stockton Road. They have lunch at noon and the meeting follows. Their next meeting will be on Monday, Nov. 19 at noon and those interested in learning more are encouraged to attend.

The birthplace of the Native Daughters of the Golden West organization was in the city of Jackson, California in 1886. The organization has provided over 125 years of service to California and currently has 78 parlors. The first Grand Parlor was hosted in San Francisco in July 1887. Famous architect Julia Morgan drew the plans for the organization’s first facility at 543 Baker St. in San Francisco. The four-story, reinforced concrete building now houses a museum, meeting facility, library, and guest rooms for organization members and their guests. Morgan was the first woman ever licensed as an architect in California, according to The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC). Hearst Castle is one of the more famous buildings that Morgan is known for designing.

Originally the building on Baker Street was an adoption agency for the Native Daughters, after the state took over adoptions, they turned it into a rest home, and then it became more of a bed and breakfast for the members, explained Rickett, who is also a past grand president. The Native Daughters of the Golden West Home was dedicated as a historic site on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012.

The Oakdale Parlor #125 is on the calendar to receive an ‘official visit’ from the state’s high-ranking officers on May 6, 2013.