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Rainbow Girls help build confidence
From left, Diana Todd and Ayla Fleming of the Manteca Assembly of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls display flyers for this Saturday’s benefit enchilada sales. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Ayla Fleming says becoming a Rainbow Girl was the best decision of her life.

She joined the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls in 2002, going from a shy 11 year-old to that of a confident young adult.

“Rainbow Girls can help get you ready for life,” Fleming, 20, said on Monday.

She heard about the organization from an aunt, and was initiated in the Stockton Assembly. But, after a year, she moved to Manteca when her family relocated here.

Fleming held various offices – Love Fidelity, Service, Drill Leader, Recorder, Faith, Hope, Charity, and Worthy service advisors – over the years, and served as the Worthy Advisor on three occasions. The latter is the officer equivalent of president.

She’s taken part in regional competitions, including grand talent (twice), grand choir (2004), and a grand marshal for Grand Assembly 2008.

At the state level, Fleming is the current grand editor of the Pot of Gold publication. In 2009, she was the assistant grand editor.

Diana Todd, who is a former Rainbow Girl and a relative newcomer to the advisory board of the Manteca Assembly #38, added that Fleming embodies everything about Rainbow Girls.

The Rainbow Girls is a Masonic service organization founded in 1922 for those between the ages 11 to 20.

They learn how to become effective leaders, speak confidently in public, take part in community service and fundraising events, and travel, to name a few.

As a grand officer, Fleming noted that the Rainbow Girls of California have been working on a service project known as Kristie’s Foundation.

Laurie Kotas founded the non-profit organization in 2003 in remembrance of her daughter, Kristie, who passed away from leukemia in 1985. She had spent most of her time trying to raise money for Kristie’s medical situation, and was left with little time for her daughter.

 Kristie’s Place will be the first end-of-life care facility in the state, helping families make the most of every moment with their child, who will also have specialists in pain and symptom management to ease the pain and suffering.

“Our goal for the (California) Rainbow Girls is to get a room for Kristie’s Place,” said Todd, who, along with Fleming, will soon be initiated into the local Eastern Star Chapter, which is the next Masonic level.

A 2008 graduate of Sierra High, Fleming has been kept busy during her final year with Rainbow Girls. She’s planning to attend college soon, majoring in Business Communication.

A reception in her honor, celebrating her job as a grand officer, is scheduled at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, at the Masonic Lodge Tyrain #439, 212 N. Powers Ave., Manteca.

It’s there that the Rainbow Girls will be hosting their annual enchilada fundraiser this weekend.

A dinner consisting of beef and cheese enchiladas, refried beans, tossed salad, and chips and salsa, will be served from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Cost is $8 for adults, $4 for children.

Full ($15) and half ($8) order trays will also be available. More information can be obtained by calling Cathy at 239-0620 or Terri at 823-9785.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Girls will be having their second-ever statewide annual membership drive at the end of next month.

The Manteca Assembly, which recently celebrated its 75th year anniversary, will host its membership drive for any and all girls between the qualifying ages (11 through 20) regardless of background on Feb. 21 during an open meeting at the Masonic Lodge.

On Feb. 26, a membership party is planned. Meetings are held on the first Monday and fourth Thursday of each month. Cost for the yearly dues is $30 with support provided for those with hardships, according to Todd.

In addition, the local Rainbow Girls are making plans to attend the state convention in Fresno scheduled in March.

Founded in 1922 by Rev. W. Mark Sexson, the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls helps prepare girls of today to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Rainbow Girls can be found in 45 states and nine foreign countries, including Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Aruba, Japan, the Philippines, Canada and Germany.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former Miss California and actress Lee Merriweather, Lily Tomlin, Dawn Wells, and Sen. Olympia Snow of Maine were once Rainbow Girls.

For more info, call Brenda Mahan at 209-996-1548 or Nell Miller at 209-823-2070, or log on to