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
Seven 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.
Year five 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 sixth 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 Women's Place goal is to provide homeless families and individuals with shelter while helping to move them into permanent housing.
Our April 2016 Shower beneficiary was Cameron Community Ministries After School Program. This after school program offers a safe place for children to be after school. The after school program is for elementary school children who attend School #54. The primary emphasis is on homework completion, tutoring, positive behavior and conflict resolution. The program runs Monday through Friday immediately after school until 6:00pm. At 6:00pm the children are offered a meal through Kids Cafe sponsered by Foodlink.
Our speaker for the evening was Katherine Warren, Program Director of Cameron Community Ministriies After School Program. Katheriine graduated from Monroe Community College in 2010 with an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Eductation. Prior to assuming the role as the Program Director she had been working at Cameron as the Youth Director. Katherine works hard with the youth staff to ensure that every child feels safe, comfortable and knows that they are cared for.
A portion of the proceeds from the Gift Basket raffle also went to Cameron Community Ministriies After School Program. Our guests were asked to bring an item or two from the "Cameron Community Ministries After School Program Wish List".
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 was 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.