Community members of the tri-city area (Oakdale, Riverbank, Escalon) and beyond have an opportunity to spice up their day on Sunday, Oct. 11and enjoy a little bit of Cuba.
“This event is our sole source of income,” said American Association of University Women Oakdale-Riverbank-Escalon veteran member Clydora Hippler.
AAUW ORE branch will host its annual fundraiser at the Gene Bianchi Community Center, Oakdale, beginning at 4 p.m. on Oct. 11. Tickets are $25 each and proceeds will benefit the service club’s Tech Trek Scholarship recipients.
Hippler described a Cuban-themed event complete with a chef demonstration of Cuban foods, hors d’oeuvres, Ethnic and Cuban dancing, as well as silent and live auction opportunities.
Tech Trek is a science and math camp hosted each summer on the Fresno State Campus. Each year the service club selects 10 seventh grade young women from the three communities to attend at no expense to the families.
“This one is my baby, I’m most proud of it,” Hippler said of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) based summer camp, “because it has turned into something humongous with the girls and mentoring.”
Hippler has been a member of the service group for close to 50 years, citing the group as both diverse, as well as proactive.
“I just clicked with these women,” she said of her early years as a member. “They’re just super, super women. They care about people.”
‘Women empowering women’ an adage and phrase now almost cliché as it is used on ad campaigns, inspirational quotes and song lyrics, yet it is a mission far from new to the American Association of University Women.
Historically the group was founded in 1881 by a group of college educated women with a goal of encouraging education and equity for women. Close to 80 years later, Oakdale organized its own branch, which later expanded to include the cities of Riverbank and Escalon. This would become AAUW ORE, a service club of tri-city women with a common goal of offering opportunity and betterment in young girls’ lives. To date there are 140 branches of AAUW in the state of California alone.
“When I found this branch, I held onto them and haven’t let go since,” Hippler said of the friends gained and lives changed since the start of her membership. “We have lots of passion. We’re here to help girls.”
The long term member also noted the evolution of the group from its initial founding of University-educated women to present day.
“Now we take JC graduates, college students. We’re very inclusive,” she said of branch membership.
In addition to the Tech Trek Math and Science Camp for Girls, the AAUW ORE Branch also participates in the Eleanor Stem Allen Memorial Speech Trek contest. That’s a project to promote understanding and communication of gender-equity issues among high school students. Through research and proper preparation the program promotes the value of public speaking as a life and leadership skill.
According to branch publicity chairperson Sharon Hawley-Crum, Ph.D., the AAUW ORE Branch awards one $4,000 college scholarship and one $1,000 Junior College/Technical Scholarship each year. High School senior Tech Trek alum from the tri-city area are eligible to apply. To date, past recipients have earned degrees from varying campuses including UC Davis, CSU Humboldt, CSU Sacramento and UOP.
The branch members also mentor the Tech Trek recipients throughout their educational career.
“They’ll do anything for us and we’ll do it for them,” Hippler said. “It’s grown into this. We need to help these girls and then we follow them when they’re in college.”
Recognizing the need to expose youth to college campuses and opportunity early on, the AAUW ORE Branch also offers field trips to their Tech Trek recipients. Trips have included the Sacramento State, Fresno State and UC Davis campuses.
“Most of our trips are at least 15 girls,” she said. “Whatever cars we need, we put them in them.
“It’s a very big job, but I love every second of it.”
The AAUW ORE Branch meets on the second Thursday of every month. Meetings are hosted in the evenings. Persons interested in learning more about the branch may do so by calling Co-President Pam Wright at 209-988-1369 or visit www.ore-ca.aauw.net.