Member Awards

Ballwin-Chesterfield NAMED GIFT HONOREES for 2018-19

Each year Ballwin-Chesterfield Branch recognizes special members.  Nominations were sought from branch members for the 2018-19 Ballwin-Chesterfield Named Gift Honorees in January, February, and March. The nominees were considered on the basis of dedicated service, their leadership, and their significant commitment to the AAUW Mission and the Branch. Contributions to the AAUW Fund have been made In their honor.

Read about these outstanding and dedicated women. Click on any picture to view it full-sized.

Jayne Kasten was specially honored for Fifty Years of Membership in AAUW!


A special Presidential Service Award was given to Marcia Block (below, left).  Named Gift Awards for outstanding service to the branch were given to the members shown below, left to right. Mersine Kallaos, Joan Hewitt, Jean Light, Joan Davis, Sandy Brody (second row) Liz Maher, Mary Kay Wolfe, Barb Tackitt, Mary LaRuffa, Nance Roth. Not pictured: Pat White.  Learn more about their fine accomplishments below.



For scores of years, the Branching Out newsletter has been vital for communicating the critical mission of AAUW while providing valuable branch information to our large, diverse membership.   About three years ago, the newsletter was faced with a crisis:  no one could be found to take over the editorship and the currect editors had been term-limited out.  Then, in a matter of just a few months, the problem was resolved, and our first three honorees deserve the credit for helping to save the newsletter.  While each brought her unique skills, all were new to our branch and all stepped up to take on the enormous task of reporting, writing, editing, and publishing the branch’s major communication vehicle.   Sandy Brody answered the call to “help out’ and has persevered fearlessly in tackling the demands of news editor, even after realizing the job required more than anticipated.  Not only learning the technical  aspects of compiling the newsletter, Sandy realized that she needed to understand AAUW’s mission and our branch’s response, and so she did.   Her strong work ethic and dedication were evident from the start.  She took on tasks efficiently and enacted new routines and responsibilities to better suit the current newsletter staff and operations.  Sandy utilizes many resources, interfaces smoothly with contributors,  and meets new challenges as she oversees the first half of the newsletter. Thank you, Sandy, for accepting the challenge and doing so much more than “helping out!”  

After attending the Fall Brunch in 2017, Joan listened to the programs, liked what she heard, and stepped up to join this organization that was completely new to her. Many people join, but few accept jobs in their first year.  Joan did.  She agreed to take on the challenging position of co-editor in charge of Dollars for Scholars and worked on ways to streamline the formatting tasks.  Joan’s additional task became mailing hard copies to those who cannot receive email  Picking up printed copies from Office Depot, folding, labeling, and stamping them for postal mailing each month enables all our members to stay connected to the branch.  Ballwin-Chesterfield values the service of Joan Davis with a Named Gift award.

Jean Light had been a member of AAUW many years ago, but she came new to our branch when we needed her the most.  After a career in IT, Jean might have wished to retire from any technology challenges, but she understood our branch’s need and volunteered to be a part of the newsletter editorship.  Jean manages the Interest Groups list, an exacting task that requires contact with many chairs of diverse clubs.   She has become more informed by visiting each one and has assisted at a STEM event.  In addition to her newsletter duties, Jean also manages the newsletter sections of the branch website.  Always efficient and skilled, Jean is a vital contributor to branch life.  

Joan Hewitt is a valuable member of the branch whose work has often been behind the scenes. Whether it is getting things ready for the Fall Brunch or the Winter Fundraiser, she is there the evening before to set up. As a member of the Boutique committee since it began, she has seen to it that things run smoothly and are arranged attractively.This year she has taken on the branch directory, an important behind-the-scenes job that all of us depend on and often take for granted. She has been a member of the Expressions interest group, attends branch meetings faithfully, participates in many Dollars for Scholars events, and contributes to AAUW. This is a salute to her for her service

Over the past nineteen years, Mersine  has graced us with her generosity, her talents, and her friendly, welcoming approach to all members, new and old alike.  As past President, Financial Officer, and Co-Vice President of Membership, she has consistently contributed her time and offered her ideas to benefit our branch.  She has sponsored multiple Dollars for Scholars events and has been a member of three interest groups since their inception.  On two occasions she has been recognized as Outstanding Branch Member, but she is most proud of developing a more efficient means of organizing and accessing member name tags at branch events.  Mersine is an exemplary ambassador of our branch who epitomizes the AAUW mission and we are honored to present her with a Named Gift Award today. 

When Liz Maher began accepting responsibilities within the branch, she became a wonderful resource.  Liz chairs the Movie Group and makes it fun for all.  She presents special showings and pricing for movies that members can use to advantage.  She also started a monthly drawing for movie tickets that keeps the members’ interests high as they wonder if they will be the lucky winner.  Liz co-chairs the leadership of the Out-to- Lunch Group, and when she chooses the restaurant, you can be sure that it will be interesting and will serve delicious meals. Finally, Liz shared the remarkable and poignant story about her heart transplant for the Munching Matters meeting.  Liz is, indeed, a person that exemplifies an active, committed member of AAUW who is admired and inspirational.

NancE Roth is a most reliable member who always says, “Sure, I’ll do it.” When a chair of the Expressions group was needed this year, that was her response. Over the years, she has taught many classes for Expressions, even supplying materials, and then being the helping hand for the learner.  She also organizes behind-the-scenes tasks that must occur to make events run smoothly.  For the important winter fundraiser, Nance made tasks go smoothly by arranging for table decorations, creating displays, and working on making the Boutique successful. In past years, Nance has chaired the Fall Brunch and has often worked on the oral auction. All these things, Nance does with smile. She is a valuable member of the branch.

As chair of the Let’s Make a Deal committee for the winter fundraiser, Mary LaRuffa took the lead in visiting numerous area businesses to solicit contributions and gift certificates. She and her committee also coordinated the silent auction items. She planned a new, detailed layout that made shopping easier. On the day of the event she led her committee in supervising the bidding. Her dedicated efforts helped the Winter Party be a big success.  Mary also has planned Dollars for Scholars events such as the Mad Hatter Tea Party, as well as others, helping to raise money for scholarships. In addition, she leads two bridge interest groups. Mary is an active member, always looking for new ways to help the branch.

As co-chair of the Let’s Make a Deal committee, Barb Tackitt worked extensively to make the winter fundraiser a great success.  She teamed with Mary LaRuffa to solicit contributions and gift certificates. She attended numerous meeting and assisted in planning the entire event. Barb helped coordinate the layout of the silent auction and facilitated sales. Because of her work, the event was financial success.  In past years, Barb served for four years as Dollars for Scholars co-chair, and she still plans and attends many Dollars events, helping us raise money for scholarships. She has co-chaired the Spring Luncheon, has served on the audit committee, and participates in interest groups.  Barb’s many activities add to the welfare of the branch.

Pat  is a multifaceted person who promotes the AAUW mission through her leadership and support.  As Hospitality Co-director, Pat ensures a delightful refreshment table monthly and a successful annual Summer Picnic.  For Expressions, she has presented projects from jewelry making to basketry and has donated several of her beautiful baskets to the winter fundraiser.  She developed a successful DFS event that included visiting a Hindu Temple, shopping at an Indian grocery store, and dining at an Indian restaurant. Pat helped found the Genealogy group where members are encouraged to share their family stories while gaining knowledge from Pat’s expertise in topics like the structure of DNA. Finally, for  all members, Pat presented the beneficial program, Handling Stress in Our Daily Lives. We are fortunate to have Pat as an vital member of the branch.

Mary Kay Wolfe steps forward, reaches out, and helps.  Besides offering unique Dollars for Scholars events annually, she has elevated the old book sale to a wildly popular and productive monthly sale that has contributed thousands of dollars towards local women’s scholarships.  MK makes selling look easy, but the storing, lugging, setting up, and reboxing for resale requires tireless dedication.   You can find Mary Kay at special events, usually wearing an apron full of raffle tickets, always cheerful, welcoming, and supportive.  For many years,  she has been a meticulous newsletter proof-reader, helping the editors maintain a quality publication.  And in 2018, Mary Kay once again stepped up, this time to co-chair the Friday Reminders.  Mary Kay Wolfe is the embodiment of service, leadership, and commitment to the AAUW mission and to the Ballwin-Chesterfield branch.