Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – May 2021

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – May 2021

A Proud Moment Seeing One of My Heroes Being Honored

By Bev Fitzpatrick; Homeless Advocate, Board member of EcoVillage Project, Dakota EcoGarden and Wings Advocacy Fresno

On Saturday evening, March 20, WILPF member Nancy Waidtlow received the Nominate Your Neighbor award from Valley PBS, KVPT. The Nominate Your Neighbor award is given each year by Valley PBS on the birthday of Fred Rogers. Nancy was one of six awardees from around the Valley. It was exciting for all of Nancy’s friends and family to watch the broadcast. Each awardee received their award from the person or people who nominated them! Nancy’s neighbor, Jeff Hallock, nominated Nancy for the award.

Nancy Waidtlow, Dakota EcoGarden founder and so much more

Before the broadcast, a film crew from KVPT, Channel 18.1 came to Nancy’s backyard and interviewed both of them, concluding with Jeff presenting Nancy with her award. The award came in the form of a model trolley car, a replica of the one used in the Mr. Rogers TV program, with a plaque on it. A KVPT film crew also went to the Dakota EcoGarden twice and took footage, including interviewing two residents.

If you would like to watch the broadcast or read about this year’s nominees, go to Valley PBS and search for “Nominate Your Neighbor.”

China Town Vigil: Gone too Soon

By Dr. Jean Kennedy, O.B/OD PsyD, Facilitator for WILPF Unpacking Racism and Understanding Your Blind Spots

On March 30, a vigil was held in China Town, in the parking lot of the Central Fish Co., a Japanese market. We came to heal because of the recent shootings in our nation. So many shootings have taken place, such as the shooting at the spas in Atlanta, the recent shooting in Boulder, Colorado, and the shooting of our own Fresno resident, Lorenzo Perez, and so many others. Our theme was “Gone too Soon” to pay respect to the victims of violent shootings in our community and around the nation.

This was a difficult article for me to write because of the painful and unnecessary killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. It was hard to not mention his name. To think this young man died over a traffic offense. I keep asking myself why does this keep happening to our African American community. Yet another shooting. My mind went back to the shooting of Oscar Grant, and then I found myself flooded with memories and tears as I recalled so many others, “Gone too Soon” due to all these unjust police shootings.

Fresno WILPF Raging Grannies sing at a March 30 Fresno vigil. Photo by Nancy Hatcher

My tears reminded me of my own arrest for a minor traffic offense in Georgia, where I was ordered to cut my locks during my intake booking and was told that my locks “are seen as contraband.” What did my locks have to do with a traffic violation? It would seem to me and others that Blacks and African Americans are not seen as humans when coming in contact with officers of the law. I, and so many others, felt our own PTSD pain, as we saw young Daunte being shot. Yet again, another African American young man killed, even as we are still trying to unpack the untimely death of George Floyd—Gone too Soon.

You might well ask what does this last shooting situation have to do with a vigil that took place on March 30. Everything! Daunte is also Gone too Soon. We have to keep having “vigils” until we are heard.

Our very own WlLPF Raging Grannies graced our vigil by singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth”—such an appropriate rendition for the times in which we live. Our vigil was co-sponsored by the WILPF Unpacking Racism Study Group, Central Fish Company, F.A.M.E. (Free AME Church), and the Take A Stand committee. The program had brief memorial remarks from local speakers, such as Morgan Doizaki, the current owner of Central Fish, whose grand uncle Akira Yokomi, the store’s founder, was murdered in 1996— Gone too Soon. We also had Cheryl Sumler, who spoke of the killing of her granddaughter; the perpetrator still has not been identified. This family is still hurting as they seek answers for their closure, so they can heal.

Other guests invited to share words were Council Member Vong Mouanoutoua from the City of Clovis and China Town Fresno Foundation Exec. Director Jan Minami, who shared words on behalf of our Asian community. Others paying respect were Pastor B.T. Lewis from Rising Star B.M. church, who spoke and sang; FPD Chaplain Dr. Sam Morgan; Dr. Venice Curry; and Rev. Floyd Harris, who will be starting up a community garden in solidarity with our Asian families. As the M.C. and organizer of this heartfelt Gone too Soon vigil, I can truly say that each person “brought it” by speaking truth to power at this interfaith and intracultural vigil. We closed the event by the lighting of candles to show that we are standing in solidarity with those who are hurting from their loss, Gone too Soon.

Ann Carruthers: Library Committee Chair and Activist Extraordinaire

By Cheryl Caldera

It is with sincere appreciation that we of the Fresno Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) recognize and honor the contributions of Ann Carruthers as she steps down as chair of the Library Committee.

As a member of WILPF since 2008, Ann has contributed to the mission of WILPF in many ways. In 2015, during Fresno WILPF’s centennial celebration one of the projects was to set up displays highlighting the Jane Addams Peace Association Children’s Book Award and WILPF in the display cases of the Central Library.

Library Committee at WILPF Central Library event. Seated: Margarita Engle (l) Sandra Ríos Balderrrma (r), Committee Chair Ann Carruthers besides Jane Addams. Photo by Sandra Ríos Balderrama

Ann took on the project because of her interest in the Jane Addams Peace Association books. With the help of many WILPF members, a wonderful tribute to the Jane Addams Peace Association and the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom was created. The Centennial Committee, with the help of library volunteers, held a reception at the Central Library for local author Margarita Engle, whose books The Surrender Tree and Silver People have won honors. It was a great success with a big turnout and brought new collaborative contacts with librarians and Friends of the Library.

And so Ann found her calling as the chair of the reactivated Library Committee. This is where she flourished as an activist extraordinaire, aiding literacy for the children of the Central Valley. Ann has provided the leadership to create an active, purposeful committee dedicated to getting award-winning peace and social justice focused books into the hands of children. She has also created collaborations between Fresno WILPF and groups focused on children in need. The leadership of Ann, Sandra Rios Balderrama and Theresa Castillo led Fresno WILPF to join REFORMA del Valle Central and to assist with their Children in Crisis program, as well as KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) and SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights Network). In 2019, the Library Committee, along with other WILPF members and the Raging Grannies, collaborated with Fresno State’s Arne Nixon Center and children’s author and illustrator Rafael López in creating a beautiful mural on a building at the corner of Tulare and Cedar streets.

Beginning in 1978, WILPF has donated full sets of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winners to local branch libraries. Recent recipients include the Central, Betty Rodriquez, Gillis and West Fresno branches of the Fresno County Library and Sunset, Calwa, Ericson, Centennial and Jane Addams elementary schools.

One of the committee’s greatest accomplishments is the partnership nurtured with the staff and community of the Malaga Community Center to establish a library in the summer of 2016. The Library Committee coordinated a reading day activity with Armando “Luie” Garcia with the help of Sandra Rios Balderrama, WILPF Library Committee member and co-founder of REFORMA del Valle Central. That initiated an ongoing relationship with the Arriaga Community Center, working with Director Romana Campos to help establish a library for their after-school program. With donations of more than 800 books and several bookshelves from the Library Committee, the children of this community where there is no library branch or even bookmobile route will now have access to a library. Ann and the Library Committee were recognized with the Pillar of Community Award by the Water District in 2018 for their support of the Community Center and the children of Malaga.

We are all extremely impressed and thankful to Ann for her dedication to WILPF’s values and the way she truly harnessed the spirit of Jane Addams in her leadership of the Library Committee. Ann has the amazing ability to boost the energy of all around her with her gentle encouragement and sincere belief in the good of others. With our gratitude, Ann, we will continue the projects you initiated as chair of the Library Committee. As you pass the baton to Cheryl Caldera, we welcome your energy as “just a regular WILPF member.”

The WILPF Page is usually compiled and edited by Leni Villagomez Reeves (lenivreeves@gmail.com).

May 13, Thursday, 7 p.m. online. Watch your e-mail for an announcement and link or call-in number! For more information, contact Teresa or Leni.

May 26; 3 p.m. (4th Wednesday of each month) Jean Hays does outstanding interviews on subjects involving WILPF interests and activities.

Send dues to WILPF Fresno, P.O. Box 5114, Fresno, CA 93755.

Send questions and information updates to Evonne Waldo at evonnewaldo@yahoo.com.

WILPF membership is $35/year. Contact Evonne about the low-income rate, sponsored by our contributions above the $35 that goes to the national organization.

COMMITTEES—STILL AT WORK Though we cannot meet in person.

Contact Jean Hays at skyhorse3593@sbcglobal.net.

Contact Cheryl Caldera at grammy44cac@gmail.com.

Contact Jean Hays at skyhorse3593@sbcglobal.net.

Contact Leni at lenivreeves@gmail.com.

Contact Bev Fitzpatrick at dfitzpatrick29@comcast.net.

Contact Evonne Waldo at evonnewado@yahoo.com.

Jean Kennedy drjeankennedy@yahoo.com. Zoom discussion held on the last Sundays of each month at 6.30 p.m. PST. If you are interested in joining us, please RSVP with your e-mail address for the Zoom link to drjeankennedy@yahoo.com or text to 559-270-1023.

1st Wednesday at noon at the Courthouse. Check with Teresa at taca_03@ymail.com.

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  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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