Saturday, May 26, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 5th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 22 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 22

Hobnobbing With Helen


Kim Davis, executive director of CASA, accepts a grant check from Altrusa's president, Richard Giachetto at an awards ceremony held on Mon., July 28, at the library's Shepard Hall.

Christmas in July” was a for-real event for a number of North County nonprofits.

Filling in for Santa Claus, noontime Altrusa—also known as Altrusa of the Central Coast—gave away close to $30,000 on July 28 at 6 p.m. in the library’s Shepard Hall.

Grants ranging in size from $500 to $1,500 were handed out after a dinner catered by Chef Rick. Fried chicken, Spanish rice, broccoli slaw, sweet potato rolls, and huge chocolate chip cookies were on the menu.

Altrusa member Norma diBernardi couldn’t resist the opportunity to bake cupcakes, which she brought along in the cutest cupcake carriers.

Norma is very proud that three generations of her family belong to this philanthropic group. Her daughter and grandson recently joined.

Among the 40 or so in the crowd were Altrusa members Kathy Boyd, club president Letitia Villanueva, Patti Elswick, Paul and Bea Goyette, Melinda Aguirre, and Lorene Dyson.

Noe Mahelona, immediate past president, and Joyce Ellen Lippman checked folks in at the door. Richard Giachetto, president of the foundation, presided over the gathering and handed out the checks to the happy recipients.

Grant recipients briefly described the programs that their grant money will be used for.

Paul and Bea Goyette enjoy the goings-on at the Altrusa grant awards ceremony on Mon., July 28, at the library's Shepard Hall. She is a past president of the group, and he is now a member of the foundation board.

David Coelho, accepting for Catholic Charities, said that the grant would allow about 20 families to pay their water bills and keep their water on for another month.

Kim Davis, executive director of CASA, said that the CASA money would be used to pay for extras for CASA kids, who are all in foster care. CASA provides items that the foster care program cannot and that make a difference in a child’s ability to participate in extra-curricular activities.

Other organizations that received grants were the Boys & Girls Club, Discovery Museum, Food Bank, GenSpan, Pacific Pride, Planned Parenthood, Rape Crisis Center, RSVP (an organization that places senior volunteers), Santa Maria High School Band, Valley Haven in Lompoc, Wilshire Hospice, and the Santa Maria Valley YMCA.

Also receiving money were Friends of the Library at the Guadalupe, Lompoc, Orcutt, and Santa Maria libraries.

Literacy is an issue dear to the hearts of Altrusa members in both the original Altrusa (nighttime) and noontime Altrusa. Several years ago, the nighttime Altrusa gave a substantial amount of money for the Childrens’ Theater in the Santa Maria Library.

Books, books, and more books! Noontime Altrusa will give away books on Aug. 24 and 31, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the mall, as they celebrate their ninth annual Festival of Books.

(left to right) Norma diBernardi, Melinda Aguirre, and Lorene Dyson meet up at Altrusa's grant awards ceremony on Mon., July 28, at the library's Shepard Hall.

Still more books will be handed out on Sept. 7, again at the mall, to celebrate International Literacy Day. There will also be materials available for on-site craft making.

Also coming up is Altrusa’s Afternoon Delight. It will be held on Aug. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $25. There will be music, food, and wine, and a Chinese raffle.

The grant money that was distributed on July 27 was largely raised during the Christmas Tree Festival that happens between around Thanksgiving and the second week of December. Altrusa sells raffle tickets for fully decorated trees, complete with a bounty of gifts.

There are three different Christmas tree events, each sponsored by a different Altrusa. These Christmas tree happenings have become a Santa Maria holiday tradition.


If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

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