South Bay Women's Network celebrates 30 years of community support

In 1983, when Jean Brown worked at Security Pacific Bank, she believed the Los Osos area needed a networking organization for women in business to support their individual endeavors and share issues specific to working women. 

Brown persuaded Cathy Stalter, Judi Tewell, Connie Framberger, Rosa Metzler, Diane McClish and Linda Villanueva to join her on the first governing board of the South Bay Women’s Network.

Last December the group celebrated 30 years of community support for The Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County, including 2013 when it raised $1,500 at the annual Holiday Dinner and Benefit. Metzler reported the first holiday meeting was a wrapping party with each member donating a gift. Current President Gila Zak thanked her team of Metzler, Debra Angell and Peggy Zett for gathering community donations for their latest auction supporting the shelter.

“Helping the Women’s Shelter continues to be our major fund raiser, but we also give three $500 scholarships annually for women at Cuesta College,” said Zak, owner of Quantum Waves Biofeedback. “Mainly our mission is to encourage and support each other.”

Past president Dawn Rodden, owner of Creative Design in Los Osos, explained the networking group commits to doing business with members, including helping women in transition.

“One member’s car broke,” Rodden said, citing an example. “Another member helped this single mom replace her car so she could get to work.”

Rodden, who prefers being the quiet worker bee, said she “never thought I might lead the group as president, but with full support from the group, I had the confidence and a great experience.”

Sally Brooks, owner of The Great Skin Company, said, “I joined in 1996 because of the great causes we support, then so many SBWN members support my business. The friendships are invaluable. For me it has been a win-win.”

The group meets the first Tuesday of each month at noon at La Palapa restaurant in Baywood Park. Dr. Andrea Tackett, with Coastal Cardiology, will speak about women’s health Feb. 4. Guests are encouraged to attend. An evening networking mixer is scheduled for Feb. 21, Zak said; for details, go to www.sbwn.org.

The group has maintained its annual dues at $45 so women can afford to join.

This year, the group plans to continue raising money for the women’s shelter and support member Paula Ufferherdt’s efforts as a longtime member with the Commission on the Status of Women, a panel of women appointed by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to advocate for women and girls and inform the supervisors of unmet needs in the county.

This year, during a luncheon March 15 at the Madonna Inn, both groups will celebrate women who volunteered countless hours. Details at www.slowomen.org

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.