Bernards Township Mayor Janice Fields spoke on behalf of the community and noted the many benefits this local organization provided since its establishment in 1946, after World War II.
“AAUW must continue to help those women who will come after us,” she said.
Michael Marion, director of the Raritan Valley Community College Foundation, accepted a gift for scholarship funding and thanked Somerset Hills AAUW for providing funding for the past 25 years. Scholarship recipient and nursing major Caitlin Colquhoun was in attendance.
Ruth Lufkin of Basking Ridge, current member and former director of the Bernards Township Library, described how libraries serve as a beacon to educate and inspire girls.
Several area libraries were gifted monies to purchase books, create programs and provide resources for women and girls.
The librarians in attendance included Lyn Begraft of the Bernards Township Library; Alexandria Arnold of the Bernardsville Public Library; Paola Kazandjian of the Clarence Dillon Library in Bedminster Township; Marygrace Luderitz of the Long Hill Township Library; and Lauren Ryan of the Warren Township Library.
A highlight of the evening was reflections from two members who personally benefitted from scholarships.
Rocio Campbell received a scholarship that helped her complete her college degree. The degree led to a full-time job, with the additional income helped toward the purchase of her family’s home.
Bonnie Gould of Basking Ridge received a scholarship from AAUW in the 1960s and was the only female studying engineering at UCLA with 2,000 men. At that time, she described how far she had to walk to reach a restroom and was told that the purpose of college for women was to “find a good husband.”
She was underpaid in many jobs and noted that a lack of pay equity still exists. She became a member of Somerset Hills AAUW 40 years after graduating from college and since then has held many positions in the organization to advance its mission.
Volunteer John Skalski, a Ridge High School junior, spoke enthusiastically about his experience last summer while helping at the used book sale. He expressed his love for books and the pleasure he got from helping sort books, assisting patrons in finding books and in buying books for himself.
Many members thanked him and invited him to return next summer.
Somerset Hills AAUW is a branch of the national AAUW, which was established in 1881 and is the oldest women’s organization in the nation. There are currently 1,300 branches.
AAUW’s advocacy efforts have propelled the Equal Pay Act, the Title IX Amendment, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Pay equity remains an AAUW priority, as well as gender bias and discrimination for girls to progress in science, technology, engineering and math.
To learn more about Somerset Hills AAUW, becoming a member or volunteering at the next used book sale, email Teri Passarello at firstname.lastname@example.org, call or text (908) 313-8421, or go to http://somersethills-njaauw.net.