The Strong Women of Agua Dulce

The Signal - - Opinion - Martha MICHAEL Martha Michael is a con­tribut­ing writer for The Sig­nal.

If you have any deal­ings in Agua Dulce, chances are you’ve run into some strong women in the process. Their syn­ergy, not to men­tion ta­lent, was ev­i­dent last week­end at the 25th An­nual Pa­rade of Ta­bles put on by the Agua Dulce Women’s Club. The hol­i­day spirit filled a hangar at the Agua Dulce Air­port, thanks to air­port own­ers Wayne and Con­nie Spears, who let the club use it for the event.

Dozens of ta­bles were ex­trav­a­gantly adorned with satin and tulle, set with fine china, linens and sil­ver, each ta­ble leader’s per­sonal ex­pres­sion. Cen­ter­pieces were eye-catch­ing tiers of ev­ery­thing from flow­ers to rein­deer – even tree branches. Ev­ery­thing was elab­o­rate. There were chairs with but­ter­fly wings at one ta­ble, while at an­other, Fa­ther Time stood at the cen­ter sur­rounded by plates with a pat­tern of clock faces.

With a cur­rent mem­ber­ship of about 170, the Agua Dulce Women’s Club added to its cel­e­bra­tion this year a “Life­time Achieve­ment Award,” which they gave to Lil­lian Smith, who has pub­lished the Agua Dulce-Ac­ton Coun­try Jour­nal for decades.

Donna Chip­per­field, past pres­i­dent of both the Agua Dulce Women’s Club and the SCV Quilt Guild, cre­ates a large quilt for the raf­fle each year. This time she brought sewing ma­chines to the Women’s Club so eight mem­bers got to have a hand in it as well. For some, it was their first time sewing.

The Pa­rade of Ta­bles is the main fundraiser for the 70-yearold non­profit, and a re­minder that many of those in­volved are a part of the town’s core group.

Ac­tive club mem­ber Mary John­son has been on the Agua Dulce Town Coun­cil since 2005. She’s known to cham­pion the area’s trails, mostly to main­tain what the towns­peo­ple value.

“It’s key, to me, be­cause if we lose our trails, we lose our ru­ral life­style,” she said, adding de­tails that re­vealed her pas­sion for the soli­tude of coun­try liv­ing.

When lo­cal kids want to learn to ride, many turn to Nancy Cochran of Happy Trails who, like San­dra Lang, who owns the gift store Bull­winkel’s, is an­other Agua Dulce woman serv­ing the com­mu­nity with her tal­ents.

But what can’t be de­nied is just how cen­tral the Agua Dulce Women’s Club is to the town’s needs.

“I was drawn to their com­mu­nity-based pro­grams for the chil­dren,” John­son said, “hav­ing the club­house avail­able for lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions to meet and a place to meet like-minded women who wanted to give ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.”

She has been mostly in­volved in the club’s pro­grams for youth, such as free movie nights and an an­nual haunted house at Hal­loween.

The Women’s Club awards schol­ar­ships and col­lects food for the Santa Clarita Val­ley Food Pantry. But the group has some needs of its own – namely, a new build­ing.

“It needs to be brought up-to­date badly,” Chip­per­field said. “I was pres­i­dent dur­ing the ‘80s and it needed up­dat­ing then.”

There’s been a plan in place to tear down the cur­rent build­ing, which is a small struc­ture on Agua Dulce Canyon Road.

“We’ve got the plans and it’s a mat­ter of com­ing up with that money,” John­son said. “We’re a small or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

De­spite its lack of size and ameni­ties, it’s where ev­ery­thing hap­pens: 4-H events, the Civic As­so­ci­a­tion, the Town Coun­cil meet­ings, a pa­rade head­quar­ters, etc.

“It’s the cen­ter of Agua Dulce, ba­si­cally,” Chip­per­field said.

But as a gath­er­ing place dur­ing dis­as­ters it leaves a lot to be de­sired.

“We need to have it as a dis­as­ter evac­u­a­tion cen­ter where we’ll cook food and bring in porta pot­ties,” John­son said, point­ing out the iso­la­tion Agua Dulce ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the ’94 earth­quake. “There’s not a gov­ern­ment build­ing out here. We’re kind of on our own.”

The Town Coun­cil is seek­ing some as­sis­tance for the project from L.A. County Board of Su­per­vi­sors mem­ber Kathryn Barger.

“When you look around at Mal­ibu and poor Par­adise, that kind of stuff can dev­as­tate a town,” John­son said. “Our town will band to­gether to make it work, but it’s hard without a cen­tral spot. My goal is to be able to con­tinue our kids’ pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties, but also have the club be the com­mu­nity gath­er­ing spot that those char­ter mem­bers in 1948 in­tended it to be. We’ve band-aided the build­ing un­til it needs surgery.”

To join the Agua Dulce Women’s Club, you only need to be 18 years old and pay dues, ac­cord­ing to the by­laws. Then be pre­pared to serve, be­cause the ac­tiv­i­ties con­tinue.

The next one on the cal­en­dar is De­cem­ber 15 … a visit from Santa, of course.

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