Somerset Hills AAUW Celebrates 75 Years
The Somerset Hills branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) celebrated their 75th anniversary at a dinner banquet held at the Basking Ridge Country Club on 10/12/21. Thirty-two members and ten guests gathered to acknowledge the efforts made to promote its mission to advance women’s issues through advocacy, education, and research.
Somerset Hills AAUW holds monthly meetings and programs, has a variety of interest groups and raises money for scholarships and local libraries by having an annual used book sale each summer. Scholarships and grants were awarded at the dinner.
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.
She urged “AAUW must continue to help those women who will come after us”.
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.
Ruth Lufkin, current member and former librarian at 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 (Bernards Township Library), Alexandra Arnold (Bernardsville Library), Paola Kazandjian (Clarence Dillon Library), Marygrace Luderitz (Long Hill Township Library), and Lauren Ryan (Warren Township Library).
A highlight of the evening were reflections from those who personally benefitted from scholarships. One member, Rocio Campbell, received a scholarship that helped her to complete her college degree. The degree led to a fulltime job and the the job’s additional income helped towards the purchase of her family’s home. Another member, Bonnie Gould, received a scholarship from AAUW in the 1960’s and was the only female studying engineering at UCLA with 2,000 men. 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 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.
John Skalski, a Bernards Township High School Junior, spoke enthusiastically about his experience last summer while helping at the 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 1300 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 our next used book sale, contact Teri Passarello via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text at 908-313-8421 or go to http://somersethills-njaauw.net.