Art & Culture

Honoring the legacy of local women

Legacy of Women event, hosted by the San Benito County Women's Fund, focused on those who paved the way to an improved quality of life for subsequent generations
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More than 250 women and a few, brave male guests filled the historic barn at the Paicines Ranch Oct. 16 for the "San Benito Legacy of Women" event hosted by the San Benito County Women’s Fund.

The focus of the event was women in San Benito County history and the things they’ve done to make a better future for the following generations. Prior to dinner, small groups quietly filtered by, viewing displays that focused on specific individuals and their lives in the early part of the 20th Century.

The following are the San Benito County Heritage Women who were mentioned in the event program: Mary Zanetta Breen Anzar, Elizabeth Lucretia Quigley Shell Bacon, Julia Bolado, Bertha Briggs, Caroline Danks, Kate Dunne, Mary Ann Flint, Lola Galli, Lena Gilmore, Hazel Hawkins, Doris Hoyle, Isabel Cladera Hubbell, Lily Agnes Huntsman, Charlotte Marcus, Charlotte Melendy, Lila Melendy, Kimi Nishita, Anna O'Farrell, Trinidad Tapia Ponce, Live Porter, Elvezia Rianda, Parcilia Rianda, Luisa Sanchez, Elena Sayers, Edith Bacon Schmidt, Georgia Wapple and Gertrude Jane Wapple.  (More about exhibit below.)  

Many of the individuals who were selected for the exhibit helped improve the quality of life in San Benito County through their efforts or through gifts that our community benefits from today. On and off throughout the evening family members peered up at family members' photos on the wall appreciating the recognition the Women’s Fund was giving a previous generation of mothers and grandmothers. County Supervisor Margie Barios took a minute to read the write up on her mother, Luisa Sanchez. Later in the evening she stopped by Paicines Ranch owner Sallie Calhoun's table and thanked her for hosting such a special event. 

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Julie Culver, the guest speaker at the sold-out event, shared her personal experience in court seeing women repeatedly make poor choices and become embroiled in the gang culture. She also spoke of women she works with and admires because of the challenges they have overcome. Culver recommended that women be mentors whenever possible and give each other the opportunity to succeed.  Although she works in Monterey County, she said the neighboring counties have some crime and social issues in common. Culver ended on a personal note about her fondness for the county and explained that she spends a good deal of time riding her horses here.

Friday night's event coordinator, Marie Hoffman of Redbeard Communications Marketing and Advertising, announced to the crowd that the evening had already brought in over $18,000. "Mystery" boxes were sold for $20 apiece with the chance of getting the lucky one holding a diamond bracelet. Final figures for the event are not yet in.

The Women’s Fund is a project of the Community Foundation for San Benito County. The fund was started three years ago and in 2015, its board granted $50,000 toward curbing domestic violence, providing more educational opportunities and resolving issues for undocumented women. As explained on the Women's Fund website, "According to the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department, the number one problem in San Benito County to date is domestic violence—with gang violence being second.  Additionally, our county has had an unfortunate rise in the number of teenage girls becoming involved in gang life — often by force or without alternative choices." To learn more about the San Benito County Women's Fund contact Stephanie Hicks at [email protected] or call her at (831) 630-1924.

Research provided for the event was done thanks to Sharlene Van Rooy of the San Benito County Historical Society and Redbeard Communications Marketing and Advertising.  BenitoLink will be running a more thorough report on the women honored at the event in conjunction with the Historical Society, Redbeard and the Women's Fund.




Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.