Nonprofit Spotlight: Organization loves to get dolled up |

Nonprofit Spotlight: Organization loves to get dolled up

“Flo’s Maternity Ward” is every little girl’s dream. Dolls smile from dainty baby carriages, gaze down from shelves, and peek from behind the protection of glass doors. They belong to the collection of the “Doll Lady,” Flo Ward. Some are available for purchase, but some just need a good, loving hug.

Ward is a spunky 93-year-old who has been in the doll-loving business for many years now. She can remember back to when mothers made their little girls’ dolls out of hankies to keep them quiet during church.

Ward says, “I guess I always liked dolls. I can remember one Christmas, we were taken to some kind of a Christmas party and I got a clothespin doll. I thought it was the most beautiful thing.”

Now her shelves are filled with Native American dolls, 36-inch dolls, and darling baby dolls of every description. Some cabinet drawers in her “adoption center” are filled with what dolls need, like shoes and hats.

Ward really knows her stuff. A member of the United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc., she is one of several appraisers who will be available on April 8 to appraise antiques, collectibles and art at the American Association of University Women’s Appraisal Faire.

The organization was founded in 1881, with the Nevada County branch chartered in 1931. This branch is one of 170 branches in California. Out of the 160,000 AAUW members in the United States, 25,000 members are in our state.

Cheryl Morris, immediate past president, says AAUW provides “equity for women and girls, positive societal change and lifelong learning. We actually raise money for three different nonprofit ‘arms’ of AAUW. One is the Educational Foundation. That is what the Appraisal Faire raises money for. It goes to provide fellowships at the graduate level for women.”

One recipient of the scholarship is Megan Marshall. She says, “I received an Engineering Dissertation Fellowship from the AAUW, which is funding the last year of my Ph.D. work at UC Davis. I am so grateful for this support. The fellowship is truly making it possible for me to complete my degree and it has introduced me to the AAUW, which is an amazing organization.”

The Appraisal Faire is one of several fundraisers the AAUW has each year. A fall boutique, which raises money for internal expenses; a game day; and used book sales also contribute to the coffers. And donations are always appreciated.

One of the projects the ladies are most proud of is the local scholarship fund. The scholarships take several forms.

Morris says, “Here in Nevada County, we give scholarships to graduating high school seniors and Sierra College students, (offering financial aid to) a woman who has interrupted her education. We also send five girls to a camp called Tech Trek, a science and math camp for girls, for a week in the summer. Our girls go to Stanford.”

Darlene Paulsen, publicity chair and member of the California State AAUW Membership Committee, says, “These girls come back so on fire. They go to NASA and up on the hills above Palo Alto and look through telescopes. They go to San Francisco and out into the Bay and the wetlands. They can be scientists; they can excel. They can be an astronaut or anything they want to be. That’s what the science camp really stresses.”

Sandy Davison, president-elect, adds, “The guest speakers that they have are professional women who are doctors and scientists. So they’re exposed to women who have achieved what we hope they will aspire to. It’s interesting to hear some of them come back and talk about the fact that they got to talk with these women.”

The girls go to science camp in the summer between seventh and eighth grades. They’re nominated by local middle school teachers and fill out an application. A selection committee decides who gets the scholarships. Morris says, “It’s an awful decision because they’re all outstanding.”

Katey Corippo is a local girl who attended Tech Trek. She says, “It was a really great learning experience. I met girls from all over the place. It was neat to go to Stanford, too, and be on the campus. Now I’m thinking about going there.”

The Appraisal Faire is the largest fundraiser these ladies do here in Nevada County each year. Your support will help women around the world. Come on by and meet the Doll Lady. Enjoy our area’s version of the “Antique Road Show.” Who knows? You might be surprised. Maybe your great-grandmother’s antique doll might be a rare one. Or that old violin that’s been stuffed away in your attic just might be a Stradivarius.


Pam Fortner is a freelance writer in Grass Valley. Her Nonprofit Spotlight appears once a month.

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