Altrusa is an international service organization dedicated to improving communities worldwide. With almost 10,000 members, Altrusa has 361 clubs in ten countries. Members work on promoting literacy and identifying and solving community problems through original projects and by partnering with other organizations or agencies.
Altrusa International of Rochester, Inc. was chartered as a club in 1950, thirty-two years after Mamie L. Bass founded the first club in Indianapolis. Mamie is famous for saying women should not just be good, they should be good for something! The most well-known Altrusan was Eleanor Roosevelt.
Altrusa Annual April Shower
Five years ago we invited Bill and Joanne Cala of Joining Hearts and Hands to present an update on their work building schools in Kenya. We have partnered with them to both build an entire classroom and fund two scholarships for girls to attend high school. The idea to invite guests beyond the club membership spurred the search for a large enough facility and a means of serving a simple catered supper. Thus was our first April Shower born.
The second year we were aware of the need of families who must raise children whose parents have been incarcerated or killed. The Catholic Family Charities group sponsored support for them, known as Kinship Care and were in desperate need of all those wonderful items that any baby shower bestows on an expectant mother. Members and guests filled the Christ Church community room once again, this time with blankets, diapers, outfits and so much more.
Our third year we invited our guests to bring pampering toiletry items and such which we all assembled into shower caddy baskets to be presented to women arriving at Jennifer House, a post-prison outreach ministry of Spiritus Christi.
Year four was focused on the libraries at both School 42 and the Rochester International Academy. At RIA immigrant children from grades two to twelve arrive in hopes of learning English while simultaneously learning New York State Regents curriculum for their age level, whether they could read at that level or not. Many wonderful books were purchased and donated to both libraries.
Last year we were thrilled to partner with Maggie Harris of the Community Lutheran Ministry on Joseph Avenue. Maggie runs after-school programs and summer camps, helping keep up to 200 children off the streets and engaged in safe learning situations. We filled the room with aproximately 50 invited guests and members who brought many items on Maggie's Summer Camp Wish List.
Our 2015 April Shower beneficiary was The Women's Place, a program of the Catholic Family Center. The Women's Place is a 19 bedroom temorary shelter for single women and women with children awaiting permanent housing. The April 15th event was held at Christ Church, with a light supper, camaraderie, and chances to further our causes through the beautiful Gift Basket raffle.
The Women's Place goal is to provide homeless families and individuals with shelter while helping to move them into permanent housing. They offer: safe and secure overnight accommodations; three meals a day; case management services; alcohol, substance and mental health referrals; literacy training; employability assessments and housing assistance.
Our guest speaker was Marlene Bessette, President and CEO of the Catholic Family Center. Ms. Besstette has been with CFC since 2013. In her role, she is responsible for the effective operation and fiscal viability of all programs of the Catholic Family Center. She worked for Xerox for 28 years in a variety of senior management roles. She has received the Xerox President's Award, the 40 Under 40 Award from the Rochester Business Journal and the Postive Difference Award from the Xerox Woman's Alliance. Ms. Bessette holds a BA from the University of Rochester, an MBA from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business and is pursuing a Masters of Theology from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry.
The proceeds from the Gift Basket raffle went to The Women's Place. The shower attendees also brought gifts for the residents from "The Women's Place Wish List".
Altrusa Annual Scholarship
Each year Altrusa of Rochester awards scholarships to young women graduating from high school or recently received their GED and who will be furthering their education. We selected a nominee submitted by Jennifer House for the 2015 scholarship awards. Thank you to Dellenna Harper, Jennifer House for making the nomination.
In 2014 we awarded two Scholarships, one to Emily Eden and one to Sarita Rai. Both Emily and Sarita are pursuing their Nursing education. We thank Julianne Wise, RIA, and Dellenna Harper, Jennifer House, for submitting such wonderful candidates for our 2014 scholarship.
Altrusa in the News
Democrat and Chronicle
The Altrusa of Rochester club was recently featured in an article written by Lisa Tiffin. This article was in the Saturday, June 5th Democrat and Chronicle ROCNews section. Please take a few minutes to read the article.
Terra Osterling, Suburban News (weekly local west side newspaper), recently contacted Alrusa members living on the west side of Rochester for an interview about our group. Terra met with the members and learned of our many community projects that support literacy and women in transition. Enjoy reading the Suburban News article.
Rochester Children's Book Festival
In the Fall of 2014, Altrusa completed its tenth year participating in the Rochester Children's Book Festival. This wonderful festival brought many of our local children book authors to one location. There were craft and reading rooms, workshops by authors on the craft of writing every half hour and many community groups' tables to visit.
The 19th Annual Rochester Children's Book Festival will be on Saturday, November 7th, 2015, in the Flynn Campus Center at Monroe Community College. If you have not attended this wonderful event please plan to do so this coming Fall. Please stop to visit our Altrusa of Rochester table and learn of our many community events.
Festival to Go
Twenty of the invited authors from the Rochester Children's Book Festival also volunteered to partner with Altrusa at our city schools in the tenth annual "Festival to Go". This event was held on October 21, 24, 29 and 30, 2014 to bring the reading and writing experience to the classroom.
The event included visits to The Children's School #15 and Andrew J Townson School #39. The Altrusa Club purchased books from these authors and donated them to each school library. Each author did a 45 minute presentation in the classrooms with their focus around these books. The Altrusa members joined the authors in the classrooms to share in this wonderful experience with the children.
Certificates of appreciation were presented to each school librarian, as well as each author, by the Altrusa members. Our volunteer authors were: Joan Baier, Kathleen Blasi, Peter Catalanotto, Jim Chaize (teacher at Nathaniel Hawthorne), Elaine Costello, Susannah Buhrman-Deever, Sibby Falk, Marsha Hayles, Kevin Kurtz, Mylisa Larsen, Allene Lind, H.D. Marychild, Valerie McPherson, Rose O'Keefe, Dorelis Osborne, Vicki Schultz, Barbara Underhill, Sally Valentine, Vivian Vande Velde and Angela Zale.
A special thank you to author, Vivian Vande Velde and Altrusa member, Jody LaRose for coordinating the "2014 Festival To Go". We also wish to thank the participating authors and the Altrusa members who volunteered their time at the schools.
The 2015 Festival to Go will be held on October 15, 16, 21 and 22. The authors and the Altrusa members will be visiting classrooms at John Williams School #5 and Charles Carroll School #46.