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Women of Woodbridge champion youth
Latest donation for Manteca Unifieds homeless students
The Women of Woodbridge conduct an annual wine social to benefit the East Union High Academic Boosters.

Where’s there’s a need involving the youth in the community, the Women of Woodbridge is right there to help.

“We wanted a vehicle in which to do charity work and give back to the community, and we saw that the schools needed help. It was the children that we were drawn to,” said Marybeth Saari explaining the reason behind the formation of the group that is open to all women who live at the age-restricted Woodbridge at Del Webb in Manteca.

Saari is the chairperson of the group who heads the steering committee. The group does not have officers, at least for now.

 Their most recent donation was a $1,000 which Saari and steering committee member Birdie Nieri presented at the last meeting of the Manteca Unified School District Board of Education. They presented the check to Director of Health Services Caroline Thibodeau.

Jean Benner, another member of the Women of Woodbridge Steering Committee, said the money that was donated came from proceeds generated from the group’s August Tea fund-raiser that was chaired by Nieri.

Pet projects to date include Haven of Peace, Mary Graham

For a group with a mission that is barely two years old, Women of Woodbridge has made a number of contributions in the community that are geared toward the betterment of area youth. For the last couple of years, they have presented scholarships to East Union High students. The money was actually presented to the Lancers’ Academic Booster’s Club to help in the “honor roll luncheon held at the end of the year,” Saari said. Funds for those donations came from the Woodbridge Women’s summer SIP Scholarship event, actually a wine-tasting gathering featuring the wineries in the area.

When the group learned that Neil Hafley Elementary on Northgate Drive was in need of school supplies for its students, they responded with donations for that purpose. They have also reached out in similar manner to the Pregnancy Help Center, a non-profit and volunteer-powered organization that provides services to young pregnant women and young mothers as well as to the babies’ fathers, the Haven of Peace in French Camp which provides respite to abused women and their young children, the Mary Graham Hall which is another program for youth, among others the group has lent a hand.

“That’s what we’ve been doing so far for the homeless students,” Saari said of her group’s recent donation to the school district.

“We’re going to have another tea and we’ll see if we are going to keep that as our focus. We’ll probably do more,” she said about continuing to make a donation for the students who are experiencing housing crisis.

“We’re new in the community and we are in the process of sort of developing what we’re going to do,” added Saari.

They may adopt a cause and support that regularly, perhaps on an annual basis, and then again, they may “find a different need that’s more pressing,’ and send their funds to that direction, she said.

At any rate, “the children of the Manteca area are our focus,” Saari said.

“We keep our eyes open for different groups that we can help and support, with the needs of children as the main criteria,” added Benner.

Members bring to the meetings suggestions for projects that they can adopt, or bring everyone’s attention to a pressing local need or something that is their pet project.

“The Manteca Bulletin has given us a lot of ideas” for such projects, Saari said.

It was a story in the Bulletin focusing on the plight of homeless students in the school district, for example, which prompted the Women of Woodbridge to donate the proceeds from their August Tea.

The group is now getting ready for another fund-raiser called Oktoberfest to benefit the Haven of Peace. Among the highlights of this event, to be held in the clubhouse at Del Webb, is a drawing for raffle prizes. One of the prizes is an iPad2. At Thanksgiving, the group plans to sell butter braid pastry for their club coffers.

The Women of Woodbridge is just one of the many community-oriented groups at the Manteca Dell Web Community. Saari pointed out that the Women of Woodbridge also has a counterpart called Men of Woodbridge. There is another group of men and women who have been providing a lot of volunteer help at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Manteca.

The Women meet every third of the month at 11 a.m. in the Del Webb clubhouse. Average attendance at each meeting is around 30.