The Words of the Garratt Family

Fifteenth Anniversary of Womenís Federation for World Peace Celebrated in Los Angeles

Joy Garratt
October 21, 2007
WFWP Southern California Chapter

L to R: Kimiyo Anceney, Claudelina Smith, Susan Thibodeaux, Ethel Lover, Eleanor Montano, Cheryl Landon, Roberta Brown, Adele Bloom, Nina Alexander, Pamela Stein, Sheri Rueter.

On Sunday, October 21st, the Womenís Federation for World Peace, USA, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary and also held a silent auction to benefit the Schools of Africa. The New Otani Hotel and Garden in the heart of downtown Los Angeles was the venue. Friends new and old reminisced and enjoyed each otherís company as they listened to inspirational music and shared lunch. All the while, funds were raised through the silent auction for the seven schools of Africa supported by WFWP, USA.

More than 250 people were in attendance, and they made bids on items ranging from exquisite jewelry to international folk art to an irresistible array of gift baskets. Mistress of ceremonies and national board member Sheri Rueter opened the program by introducing special guests. These included local diplomats, the Honorable Mary Nyambura Kamau, consul general of Kenya; and the Honorable Jeanette Ndhlovu, consul general of South Africa; the Rev. Dr. Cecil "Chip" Murray, pastor emeritus at First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles; Rev. Leonard Jackson; actress Cheryl Landon; award honorees; WFWP, USA national president Alexa Fish Ward; and executive vice president Yasue Erikawa.

Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, a member of the eventís honorary committee, sent a letter of congratulations as well as her regrets that an important congressional vote prevented her attendance. A special proclamation from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was read by Rev. Leonard Jackson.

Then a short video was shown of the WFWP, USA, Japanese-American International Friendship Conference in Los Angeles in 1995, featuring Coretta Scott Kingís speech. Dozens of women present at the luncheon were seen in the video crossing the Bridge of Peace with their Japanese "sisters." Afterward, they were asked to stand in acknowledgement of their participation in those historic Friendship Conferences.

Minister Reiko Jenkins, representing Women in Ministry of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, gave the luncheon invocation. Over plates of delicious chicken and wild rice, participants attempted to name countries represented by the African flags placed on each tableís Kente cloth-covered centerpiece.

Singer-songwriter Miyuki Harley captured the hearts and attention of all with a moving rendition of her own composition, "Can You Hear Me?" Twenty-one-year-old California State Fullerton student Jena Eisenberg accompanied Miyuki on the piano for a second song, "Image of You," written by Jena herself. Miyuki and Jena then led the audience in "Happy Birthday" to Ms. Marsha Hunt, WFWP, USA honoree and well-known actress who celebrated her 90th birthday on October 17th.

Keynote speaker, Alexa Fish Ward, president of WFWP, USA, gave an overview of the 15 years of WFWP. She shared the history, goals, and major program areas, with beautiful photos that included highlights of the recent service-learning trip to the Han Dow Secondary School in Kenya. Alexa inspired attendees to return to the silent auction so their generous contributions could finance the expansion and maintenance of the schools in Africa. For "homework," she provided small pink piggy banks for women to take with them for collecting money with their families on a monthly basis.

WFWP, USA, seeks to recognize and network with other like-minded individuals and organizations. Therefore, in honor of the 15th anniversary, awards were presented to two individuals and two nonprofit service organizations for their contributions and activism. The "Woman of Peace Award" honored performer, writer and producer Sheryl Lee Ralph. The star that created the original role of Deena Jones on Broadway in Dreamgirls, Sheryl Lee has combined a long career in film and television with activism and education efforts on behalf of HIV/AIDS, particularly as to how it affects women of color and children.

Longtime actress, activist and author Marsha Hunt, for whom everybody sang Happy 90th Birthday, was appointed an Ambassador for Peace, in honor of decades of activism on behalf of the United Nations and other organizations. A popular actress during the 1930s and 40s, she turned to activism in 1955 after observing extreme poverty while on a trip around the world with her husband, Robert Presnell, Jr. Partnership for Peace Awards went to Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., Los Angeles Chapter, and the United Nations Association, Pacific-Los Angeles Chapter. Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., is a national philanthropic and community service organization headquartered in Houston, Texas, with over 200 chapters in the United States and Jamaica. The United Nations Association (UNA), Pacific-Los Angeles Chapter initiated the annual International Day of Peace in Los Angeles with the Governor of California, the Mayorís Office and the City Council and maintains ongoing efforts to promote harmony and peace among all people and to educate youth.

Wrapping up the awards portion of the program, Alexa gave a special presentation to Norma Foster for serving as a national advisor to WFWP, USA for the past five years. Then eight women were recognized for working side-by-side with the WFWP, USA, Southern California Chapter since its beginning. Those women are: Nina Alexander, Adele Bloom, Roberta Brown, Myriam Cascella, Cheryl Landon, Ethel Lover, Eleanor Montano, and Susan Thibodeaux.

Finally, the traditional WFWP closing song, "Let There Be Peace on Earth," was led by the beautiful voice of Sheryl Lee Ralph, our Woman of Peace. Guests lingered as they picked up their auction items and made plans to meet together over the future months at upcoming WFWP events.

Special thanks are extended to the honorary committee, the celebration committee, all the performers (including high school senior Victoria Calix and her eighth grade brother, Jacob Calix, who graced the event with background music on the piano and cello), the Tribute Book designers Robin Cox and Robert Brown, and all the many, many volunteers who poured out their energy and hearts to make this a successful event. In addition to the money raised by sponsorships and national ads for the national WFWP, USA office, around $10,000 was raised for the schools of Africa. Ten percent of the total net raised will be used as seed money for next yearís benefit.

WFWP 15thAnniversary Honorary Committee

Hon. Mary Nyambura Kamau Consul General of Kenya

Hon. Jeanette Ndhlovu Consul General of South Africa

Hon. Diane E. Watson US Congresswoman

Ms. Eleanor Montano Commissioner, LA County Commission on Human Relations

Dr. Geraldine R. Washington President, NAACP Los Angeles Branch

Ms. Marsha Hunt Actress, Author, Humanitarian and Activist

Ms. Bobby Ann Howe Director of Public Affairs, KTYM Radio

Ms. Norma Foster President, UNA-USA Pacific-Los Angeles Chapter; National Advisor, WFWP USA

Ms. Alexa Fish Ward President, WFWP USA

Ms. Lynn R. Walsh Director, UPF Women for Peace

Ms. Reiko Jenkins Director, ACLC Women in Ministry

Celebration Committee:

Ms. Nina Alexander RScP and Event Planner

Ms. Adele Bloom Educational and Business Consultant

Ms. Roberta Brown President, A.C.A.U.S.E.

Ms. Norma Guillotte President, Top Ladies of Distinction, Los Angeles Chapter

Ms. Susan Lee President, Association of Families of Korean Independence Movement USA

Ms. Sheri Rueter Senior Advisor, WFWP USA

Ms. Claudelina Smith Chairwoman, WFWP Southern California

Ms. Kimiyo Anceney District Coordinator, WFWP District 12

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