Chapter Activities and Projects

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DAR Local Chapter Activities

Don Jose de Ortega Chapter DAR members are dedicated to perpetuating the principles upon which the National Society was founded in 1890. We honor God, Home, and Country, while working to promote patriotism, historic preservation and education. The chapter has its own special way of honoring these precepts. In the past forty-seven years, we have become known as the chapter who does a lot of research. This is due, in large part, to the fact that we want to identify as many of our patriot ancestors as possible. We believe that by identifying them and learning their stories, we give honor to their service and the sacrifices they made to establish the free society we all now enjoy. Hand-in-hand with our interest in genealogy is our desire to do whatever we can to assist the community-at-large. Shown below are a few of our accomplishments and what we believe are some wonderful reasons to be a part of the Don Jose de Ortega Chapter.   

Awards to Local Schools

 

Promoting Patriotism

Conservation

 

Scholarships

Historic Preservation

 

Service for Veterans

Literacy Promotion

 

Support of DAR Schools

Philanthropy

 

Women's Issues

Awards to Local Schools

Chapter awards to schools in the San Fernando Valley are discussed on our "Contests and Awards" page. For the full list, please click on the "Contests and Awards" link, located in the blue box on the left side of this page.

Scholarships


The chapter established a scholarship for the purpose of encouraging higher education. Endowed by a bequest from Marcia Havens Stowers, the scholarship is given each year to a college or post-graduate student majoring in the fields of medicine or education, with emphasis on math and science. Some examples of qualified areas of study are: laboratory technician, nursing, doctor of medicine, teachers of math or science.

Support of DAR Schools

The Don Jose de Ortega Chapter supports each of the DAR supported schools through annual donations earned by chapter fundraisers held throughout the year. Special attention is directed to the California Pouch Cottage at Tamassee DAR School in South Carolina, where we send cards and small gifts to the live-in students on their birthdays, Valentine's Day and Christmas, and donate reading wish items. This past year, members sent holiday ornaments along with gifts for each student. A generous bequest from a member's estate was used to help purchase an accelerator swing for the Tamassee School playground. The thank you notes written by the students are both amusing and heartwarming.

Philanthropy

Monies from the Don Jose de Ortega Chapter's Stowers Endowment Fund enable us to annually donate to worthwhile causes. Since receiving the endowment in 1998, we have donated funds toward the following:  a hospital fund at Landstuhl Germany; the recognition of chapter family members serving in the military; honoring veterans on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War; honoring lady veterans at the 60th anniversary of WWII; purchasing a memorial stone and plaque at the Santa Barbara Mission; donating additional funds to the Mission; purchasing a seat in DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, to honor Jose de Ortega's 5th generation granddaughter, Marcia Havens Stowers; and presenting three scholarships to students whose family member served in Iraq or Afghanistan.   

The chapter donated copies of the DAR Patriot Index to the Los Angeles Public Library, West Valley Branch, the DAR California State House in Glendora, and the LDS Family History Center on Plummer Street in Northridge, CA. Donations have been given to the NSDAR Seimes Microfilm Center to ensure the preservation of census records and to the NSDAR Library in DC. 
 
Members collect pull tabs from aluminum cans for a local McDonald House that recycles them for cash to purchase needed items. Loose change is collected at most regular chapter meetings and sent to the Mountains Restoration Trust to be used toward replanting local burn areas. Members also save cancelled postage stamps that are packaged and delivered to a Southern California Veterans' Rehabilitation Center for use by recovering veterans as they relearn finger mobility and eye-to-hand coordination.
 
Each year, members vote on which four of their favorite charities will receive between $250 and $500 from a chapter Stowers Endowment Fund. In the past donations have been made to Guide Dogs of America, MEND (Meet each Need with Dignity), restoration and improvement of the NSDAR historic buildings in Washington, DC, Fisher House Foundation, Homes for our Troops, New Directions for Veterans, Operation Gratitude, American Cancer Society Relay for Life (members annually walk or run in the relay), Blind Children's Center, Downtown Women's Center, Volunteer League of San Fernando Valley, Southwest Reservation Aid, Tree People, Warrior Canine Connection, and the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission. 

Conservation

In addition to the chapter's Pennies for Pines program and donations to the Mountains Restoration Trust, our conservation activities include educating members on carpooling; water conservation; recycling, reusing and repurposing household items in their personal lives, educating others about colony bee collapse and the decline of California Monarch butterfly habitats. The Conservation Committee collects and redeems bottles and cans with the funds going to support chapter projects. We encourage members to recycle their spent print cartridges through local schools which collect them as a fundraiser. In support of the California State Regent's project to restore Monarch butterfly habitats, members have received milkweed seeds for planting and distribution. Packets of seeds were given as favors at the chapter's annual Flag Day Luncheon Celebration and Fundraiser.

Nearly all chapter members participate in conservation activities by recycling as much as possible, maintaining bird feeders, planting drought tolerant plants. Several have converted grassy lawns to artificial turf, while another re-landscaped her entire yard with succulents, drought tolerant trees and bushes. Chapter members are encouraged to carpool to meetings and events.

Annually, one of our members, who maintains a water tolerant garden, hosts a meeting in her home. She identifies the many varieties of plants and explains how to slowly convert our home landscapes to ones that are drought tolerant.  Her home is on the annual list of gardens to be visited by the Theodore Payne Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting the understanding, use and preservation of California native plants.

Keeping with that theme, "Plant Picasso", Michael Tardiff, gave an outstanding presentation on succulents and drought tolerant plants called "Specializing in Water Conservation", a topic of particular interest to Californians. A variety of plant cuttings were made available to members eager to plant something in their own gardens.

Guest speaker Leslie Reuter, spoke to our group on "Sustainable Living in an Urban Environment." The presentation included simple ways to reuse, recycle, and repurpose household items. At the meeting, attendees were provided compost donated by the Calabasas Water Reclamation facility. Ms. Reuter has since been awarded the DAR Conservation Medal for her many conservation activities not just for our chapter but also in her neighborhood, at work and for her church.

Historic Preservation

The chapter has a long history of interest in historic preservation. One year, historically correct silk flags, hand made by founding chapter Regent Muriel Fisher, were presented to Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission San Fernando Rey de España in the San Fernando Valley. Another year, members mapped the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth.

More recently a representative of the Oakridge Estate Park Advisory Board presented a program describing the scope of work involved in restoring the 10 acre estate and home built by the famous architect, Paul Williams. Many of our members have since toured the property and donated toward the restoration.  

Several chapter members serve as docents at historic homes and museums in Los Angeles County and volunteer at local historical societies working on displays, exhibits, and publicity. Another of our chapter members serves on the Roanoke VA Booker T. Washington Monument Committee and worked with another Virginia group to obtain Historical-Cultural Landmark status for the Hook-Powell-Moorman Farm, a property owned by her family since the early 18th century. She currently coordinates restoration efforts and hosted the Spring 2016 Open House. 

While on vacation, a member discovered at least ten Revolutionary War veterans buried in the Plymouth Northside Presbyterian Cemetery in Plymouth, New York, where she photographed and groomed the gravesites as much as possible. Through genealogy research, she located a descendant of one of the soldiers as well as a local person who could restore the headstone. As a result of her efforts, 18th century Luther Gleason's 21st century descendants have had the headstone restored and returned to standing position. Plans are now underway for the chapter to join forces with the local DAR chapter to place DAR markers on all the graves.   We remain committed to learning about the historical buildings in and around the San Fernando Valley and to identifying a project we can support.

Literacy Promotion

Chapter members are actively involved volunteering as reading tutors for pre-school and middle school students as well as volunteering to teach adults to read through the program "Empowering Adults through Literacy". We also donate books to local libraries, the Sepulveda Veterans Administration Hospital and reading list items to DAR schools.

Our newest project involves working more closely with individual schools in the San Fernando Valley area. In support of the NSDAR Community Classroom Project, members contacted neighborhood schools to learn more about which schools would like to receive books for their classrooms and libraries. In the first month of this program, we donated to two school libraries, three classrooms, and provided special books for a remedial reading class. This ongoing project will expand in the coming year.

Service for Veterans

Don Jose de Ortega Chapter members are dedicated to doing all we can to assist the social service workers at the Sepulveda VA Medical Center.  Chapter members and their husbands volunteer countless hours each week to work at the Sepulveda VA Medical Center’s refreshment room aka the "Coffee Cart". 

The chapter donates money to purchase taxi vouchers for veterans with no other form of transportation home after their treatments. We also fund prizes for the very popular monthly Bingo games, collect gently worn clothing for the VA clothing closet, non-perishable food for the food pantry, and household items for the residential units on the Sepulveda VA grounds.  

Our annual Flag Day Luncheon's table centerpieces are made up of large baskets of non-perishable food donated by members and given to the VA food pantry following the Flag Day event. The donated food generally supplies the pantry with enough food to last over the summer months.

Members save their used postage stamps for a Long Beach Veterans Rehabilitation Hospital where wounded veterans relearn how to manipulate their hands and fingers. Works of art are created using the small, colorful stamps. In 2017, 1-1/2 lbs of stamps were delivered to a Tucson Arizona Hospital doing similar work with veterans.

First-Annual Thank You for Your Service Luncheon: On August 25, 2016, approximately 140 veterans feasted on sandwiches, salads, chips, cookies, Starbucks coffee and Menchies frozen yogurt as the Don Jose de Ortega Chapter held its first ever "Thank You for Your Service" Luncheon. A dozen chapter members served food donated by Sharkey's Mexican Grill, Jersey Mikes, Urbane Cafe, Weilers Deli, Beverly Glen Deli, ZPizza, Olive Garden, Chick-fil-A, Menchies, Starbucks, Costco, Whole Foods, and Mrs. Beasley's Cakes. When the chapter's community liaison visited the businesses and told them about the luncheon plans, they jumped on the bandwagon! After lunch several gift cards donated by local supermarkets were raffled to the veterans.  At the end of the day, there were so many smiling faces in the Rec Room that it was hard to tell who was happier -- chapter members or the veterans.   

 

Promoting Patriotism

Our chapter promotes patriotism in a number of ways -- the most obvious being our annual Flag Day Luncheon Celebration with its red, white and blue theme, topical presentations and flag tributes. All patriotic holidays are recognized and members are urged to fly their American flags on holidays and year-round.

The Chapter's U. S. Flag Committee watches for businesses and establishments whose flags are damaged or faded and encourages them to replace the flag themselves or to accept one as a gift from the chapter. 

Outreach to local schools includes packets for use in their Constitution Day/Week activities, materials promoting the DAR Essay Contests, and support of ROTC programs. Please check out the "Contests and Awards" link located in the blue box to the left of this section.

In addition to encouraging schools to engage in activities commemorating Constitution Day, chapter members spoke at two local City Council meetings, providing copies of the U. S. Constitution to Council members. These presentations received enthusiastic audience applause and are archived on the cities' web sites.

Chapter members' many donations and activities related to veterans and active duty military show our ongoing patriotism.

Women's Issues

We have an active Women's Issues Committee that concentrates on health, career, and family issues for women. We enjoy emphasizing a positive approach to these subjects.

Our ancestors had completely different issues for women: in battling for suffrage, abolition, and in working outside the home. We have had programs on Catherine Beecher; Sara J. Hale, the editor of Godey Ladies Book and the "Mother of Thanksgiving"; and Elizabeth Peabody; all of whom inspired advancement for women. Programs on the Lowell Mill girls and the Harvey girls stressed the changing history of women's place in our country.

We heard programs on teaching literacy to adults, enabling mothers to help their families, and on women in journalism. Including members in the discussion, we held a program on heart health. Brochures have been distributed on breast cancer, pre-diabetes, and on other sources of general and specific medical information. Parkinson's disease was discussed at one of our recent luncheon meetings.