By Laura Lawrence, Alternate Delegate for Aleli Parlor No. 102
Last week, I attended the 127th Grand Parlor Annual Meeting of the Native Daughters of the Golden West in Pleasanton with approximately 200 Sisters, including about 100 delegates from parlors around the state.
This was my first time attending the Grand Parlor Annual Meeting. One of things that I love about Native Daughters is their love of tradition. This organization founded on the principles of love of home, devotion to the flag, veneration of the pioneers, and faith in the existence of God. Our annual meeting reflects these principles. Each day for four days, the meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the singing of the National Anthem. A prayer was said at the opening and closing of each meeting, as well as before each meal.
While the focus of the meeting’s work was consideration of recommendations and resolutions submitted to the Grand Parlor, the nomination and election of Grand Officers for the coming year, and to hear reports from all of the organizations various committees, the daily meetings were not all business. The day’s activities were peppered with presentations of gifts, skits by the Grand Officers and other parlors, and luncheons in support of our non-profit foundations.
Every year, a very moving Memorial Service is held for all of our Sisters who passed away during the year. It is annual tradition to remember those Sisters who have given so much to this organization.
The Gold Dust Girls hold a fundraising dinner every year as well. The Gold Dust Girls raise money for the incoming Grand President and any special projects within the organization that need a boost. This year’s dinner had a 60s theme. I got into the spirit by wearing a costume reminiscent of Tippi Hedren’s character in the 1963 movie The Birds. Look for a picture of me in my costume in a future issue of the California Star.
Native Daughters also gives awards to businesses and organizations that support the image of California. This year, one of the Image Awards was given to the Chrysler Corporation for their Jeep commercial that brought our state song, “I Love You, California”, back to life.
We were also delighted by two inspiring and enthusiastic speakers. Victoria Kastner, historian for Hearst Castle in San Simeon and author of books on the same subject, presented a slide show and talk on Phoebe Apperson Hearst, architect Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst. The talk was informative and gave me the “itch” to visit La Cuesta Encantada again. The new Director of California State Parks, Major General Anthony Jackson, USMC, (ret.) spoke. His enthusiasm for our state parks was infectious! Our final day of meetings concluded with the installation of our Grand Officers for the coming term.
Native Daughters is an aging organization that is embedded with tradition. As time goes on, we are losing members more often than we are gaining new ones. As was stated in the nomination speech for Dawn Dunlap, Grand Inside Sentinel, progress and tradition are not mutually exclusive, but interdependent. We need to keep this mind as we move forward as an Order. To some, the decorum, the formal gowns, and other old-fashioned traditions may seem like they belong in another era. Our challenge as Sisters is to find a way to portray the value in these traditions and, at the same time, stay current with needs of a younger generation of Californians.