The American Association of University Women Vero Beach Branch celebrated its 50th anniversary in March, 2014.
The Vero Beach branch was established in 1964, a result of the initiative of Lenore Feibel and Dorothy Forbes, who served respectively as the first President and the first Vice President for Membership. Lenore and Dorothy had moved to Vero Beach and missed their former AAUW involvement. They placed an ad in the local paper and a notice on the high school bulletin board, which resulted in 65 women attending an organizing tea. At the first meeting, held at the Women’s Club, 54 charter members joined the new branch. The 2015-2016 membership of the Vero Beach branch was 155 members strong. The third largest of 42 State branches, the Vero Beach group strives to promote a love for learning, and to demonstrate its passionate dedication to the empowerment of women and girls.
For the past five decades (1964-2014) local members of the AAUW have been engaged in educational and philanthropic activity. In past years, the branch was an integral part of involving children in theater and the arts. Its members also created holiday parties for clients of the Sheltered Workshops for the handicapped, GED completion ceremonies at the Indian River Correctional Facility and Vero Beach High School, and provided funds for the Safe Space Shelter.
The branch continues to host five book review breakfasts each year at which local public figures discuss works of interest to them and engage the audience in thought-provoking discussion. Annually the group holds a Book Author Luncheon which highlights noted authors who discuss their own publications.
Tutoring programs have been offered for many years with a number of members providing literacy services, most recently to adults.
In 2011, in conjunction with the Education Foundation of Indian River County and the Indian River School District, the branch sponsored an all-day STEM Summit for local middle school girls, their parents and teachers at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. This successful event was intended to encourage girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Last year, the branch sponsored a female student who attended the week-long TECH TREK Science camp in Florida. Locally, middle-schoolers attended a week-long STEM Camp organized by AAUW. Members are involved in the annual Science Fair as volunteers and judges, and two AAUW awards are awarded at the Science Fair to promising students.
In 2015, the branch sponsored three student leaders from Indian River State College at the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) in Washington, DC. They have returned and have helped us create a affiliated student organization on campus.
Non-partisan political forums for candidates running for office hosted by the branch have always been well attended by both candidates and the voting community. In 2012-2013, the Public Policy Committee executed a three-month voter education program specifically targeting young women ages 18-30 encouraging them to vote.
Member contributions and proceeds from AAUW sponsored fundraising events provide annual scholarship money for women attending Indian River State College (IRSC) and support research endowments. Four IRSC college tuition scholarships have been awarded each year since 1971. In 2015-2016, the branch will support four tuition scholarships at $1200.00 each. In addition, an endowed scholarship at IRSC currently awards approximately $500 annually.
Vero Beach AAUW has funded two endowments at the national level. The Lenore Feibel Fund has generated $90,000 for research. The Jannetta MacPhail/Harriet Strong National Endowment will provide $75,000 for graduate scholarships.
As demonstrated by all of the above mentioned accomplishments, Vero AAUW has a lot of history to celebrate.