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Sunday’s Fundraiser Fashion Show and Tea Will Celebrate Coastside Women and Businesses

In support of local women and girls, the American Association of University Women will bring fashion flair to the Coast this Sunday. Read on to see how this local branch has helped local women for decades.

Women from the age of one to 79 will grace the stage at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Coastside Women and Girls Fashion Show and High Tea this Sunday at the . Beginning with champagne and tea service, the line-up of models -- which include three generations of family women, preschoolers, eleven cousins, and seniors -- will then take to the runway to help raise funds for Coastside girls’ programs, all while showcasing local businesses.

“We had the idea eight years ago to do a fashion show and fundraiser,” says event organizer and co-chair Amy Broome. 

Broome has been with the AAUW for ten years and is the daughter of the Half Moon Bay’s branch’s charter member and former organizing chairman, Ruth Rafello.  In 1967, Rafello chartered the Half Moon Bay branch of AAUW, with 31 members.  Today it has over 135 members.

AAUW’s mission as a nonprofit organization is to “break through barriers for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.” The Half Moon Bay branch offers middle school girls chances to attend math and science camps, awards scholarships to Half Moon Bay High School graduates who have completed a few years of college but need further financial assistance, and supports high school students through tutoring and enrichment opportunities.

“Since 1973, AAUW has given more than $55,000 in scholarships to girls and women in need,” says Rafello. 

Following a national study out of Washington, D.C., indicating that girls at the sixth grade level were short-changed when it came to learning math and science, the California state branch of AAUW developed the Tech Trek program at Stanford University in 1998.  Local middle school girls going into eighth grade are given the opportunity to apply to participate in a weeklong camp where they live on campus for the week while taking math and science classes, or venture out curriculum-related excursions or activities. 

Chloé Simmons, currently a ninth grader, attended Tech Trek in the summer before eighth grade.  Simmons, who will participate in Sunday’s fashion show as a model, says that Tech Trek opened her mind to viewing math and science in a new light.

“We were able to study and do activities, like meet with Pixar reps. That showed me how you could use math or science differently.  It isn’t just lab work,” says Simmons.

After being recommended for the program by her math and science teachers, Simmons completed an application and essay for the scholarship and waited for a letter of response.  She and five others from the Coast were selected to attend the summer camp of approximately 80 girls.

“Now I really like doing things for AAUW, because they sent me to Tech Trek, one of the funnest experiences of my life,” says Simmons of her upcoming participation as a model in Sunday’s fashion show. Simmons, who says she likes clothes, will wear jewelry and some designs from boutiques in downtown Half Moon Bay.

Other modeling by young girls will come from eleven cousins of the local Villalobos family and Rafello’s 5-year-old granddaughter, Sienna Broome.  “I will wear a dress and tutu,” says the child, happily, with her mother adding that the dress is from and the tutu from Main Street’s .  “Our fashions will come from Harbor Village through to Main Street,” says Broome, who has busily gathered local merchants and businesses, such as Butler Golf, Half to Have It, , and many others to make the event a success.

Delores Crabb, an AAUW member since 1984, will walk the runway as a senior for the Designing Women Group, a maker of bright, handpainted tops.  Crabb, who has done “just about everything, except being president” for Half Moon Bay’s AAUW, has printed the flyers and the programs. 

“I joined AAUW to meet other educated women,” says Crabb.  “I used it as a sort of welcome wagon.”  

Those interested in joining the local branch of AAUW will receive national, state, and local membership for an annual fee of $86.  The branch offers many chances for women to interact, have fun, and exchange ideas.  Gatherings like Women In History, Walk and Talk (Dog Optional), and Gourmet Group are popular activities. 

Half Moon Bay AAUW gives 40 percent of its annual fundraising to the Education Fund of the national association, helping with projects aimed at equity for women and girls.  Groups such as the Legal Advocacy Fund, offering legal representation to women in academia who have hit the glass ceiling, also benefit from Half Moon Bay’s monetary contributions.

For Sunday’s event, Broome says it is nearly sold out.  “It will celebrate women and girls on the Coastside and should be a lot of fun,” says Broome. 

To purchase your $40 ticket for food, fashion, raffles and goodie bag fun, contact Broome at (650) 430-7858 or broome@coastside.net.

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