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May 2020 BPWNC Newsletter

Our meetings are on hold until further notice due to the current COVID-19 health stay-at-home advise

What an oxymoron this collective isolation! For those of us who are civic minded and like to support and participate in various community groups this has been a real challenge. I have been on the phone more than I have in years. Emails and texts are filling my time too. I am forever grateful for the letters and cards I have received lately and would encourage those of you who have not yet engaged in snail mail to reconsider. There truly is nothing more than handwritten words (or photos)! In addition to reading (a bit hard to concentrate with books) I have cracked open my scrapbooks. Great memories!

I would like to say I have participated in a bunch of Zoom meetings but to date I have only had a few. They are too much of a drain on my internet data. Face timing on my cell phone is not readily available for me either or I believe others of us who live in more rural areas of the County.

Have any of you gotten out a jigsaw puzzle? I have a few that I will attempt. NextDoor apparently has a jigsaw puzzle exchange. Check it out if that is you pastime.

As suggested in our previous newsletter we do need to continue our support of local businesses. I have done a few drive by/take out meals. The process is easy and the food is delicious. I hope there are enough of us who can support our local restaurants that they will be there for us when this Covid quarantine levels out. When I have gone to town I am surprised by all the vehicles on the road. Is getting your car washed an essential task? Surely most of our homes are organized and clean by now. Certainly the parking lots at Hills Flat and B&C are full so people must be buying! I am proud to be a member of this wonderful community.

Until we meet again, Be well!!
Mary Sivila, President

Pioneering Women

Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull, was born to an illiterate mother and a petty criminal father. One of 10 children, Woodhull did not start elementary school until she turned 8. She then attended off and on for only three years before dropping out. She began her political career by creating Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, a radical publication, in which she expressed her ideas on a variety of activist topics.
An activist for women's rights and labor reforms, Woodhull was also an advocate of "free love", by which she meant the freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without social restriction or government interference.
Woodhull was the first women to attempt to run for President of the United States, she started a bid for the presidency in 1872, writing to the New York Herald, "I...claim the right to speak for the unenfranchised women of the country."

It would be another nearly 50 years until women gained the right to vote, and, at 31, Woodhull was technically too young to even be president. And yet, championing policies such as wage fairness and advocacy of civil rights, the Equal Rights Party chose her as their presidential candidate—and though she didn't end up appearing on the ballot, her historical impact can still be felt today.

Interesting fact;
Of the 50 largest cities in the United States only 13 of the mayors are female (26%), 11 are Democrats (22%), 1 Independent and 2 republicans. As of 2018 50.8% of the population is female. Click here for link to article.

My great, great, aunt, Ardelia Fallon Bownes was born in 1851 and married her second husband, Parker John Ashford, in 1889. Parker John, Delia and their daughter, Vivian, all lived on Alcatraz Island during the time when it was under military management. Parker John was the Assistant Lighthouse Keeper in 1918.

During the same time, my grandfather, Frank Hansen, was staying with my grandmother, Grace, and my mother, Roberta, at a hotel in San Francisco where he was attending a Shriner Convention. (Frank was a lifelong devoted Mason and rose to the rank of 32nd degree, becoming one of the founders and an ardent supporter of the Shriner Hospital for Children in San Francisco.) My mother was three years old at the time and my grandmother was terrified she would catch the flu. Parker John took a boat to the mainland, picked up three-year-old Roberta and took her back to Alcatraz with him in order to safely quarantine her with the soldiers and his family. My mother stayed with them on Alcatraz until the danger of catching the flu was over, almost a month.

For the rest of our lives, it was the family “joke” that my mother, Roberta, had lived on Alcatraz. It always got a laugh. And, during challenging times, don’t we all need a laugh!

by Lynn Wenzel
My great-grandmother died in the 1918 flu epidemic, in Colorado, with a huge impact on my grandmother and great-uncle's lives and futures. Their father remarried. Their step-mother favored her own children and when her second husband predeceased her, she left the family farm to her own children.
Apparently the stepmother mistreated my grandmother and her brother to the extent that my grandmother married my grandfather at age 13 to get away from the inhospitable circumstances, taking her brother with her. My beloved grandfather, a coal miner about 10 years her senior, himself an orphan, raised my uncle along with my father. 
I revere my memories of my paternal grandparents. They moved to California with my dad's help, when I was a young child, eventually moving into the flat below our family's on 25th and Church streets, in the Mission District. Together, they cared for their severely disabled son Melvin until he died at age 12, helped raise my sister, brother and me, and then my own two boys.
Grandma Patty and Grandpa Garfield. Two of the most decent, hardworking and loving people I've ever known., enduring more hardships than most of us ever face, with grace and indomitable spirit.
Just two people profoundly affected by the 1918 flu outbreak.

by Elaine Sierra
During World War II, Nella Last, a middle aged woman living in a small coastal village in north western England, volunteered to keep a diary as part of the Mass Observation Archive. Nella began writing in 1939, the year I was born, and continued for the next twenty years, describing her life during the War and in Post WWII England. I’ve been thinking of Nella a lot during the past six weeks while I, and everyone I know, is “staying home.”  She has become a sort of spirit guide, and I turn to her simple observations when I feel depressed, lonely, frustrated, sad or angry or just scared.

Nella Last kept a garden. She also volunteered at the Red Cross Centre, over the objections of her possessive husband. She cared for babies, she knitted and sewed for the war effort. She cleaned up glass and wood splinters when her house was bombed and she and her husband were forced to sleep under the kitchen table. She comforted her neighbors. She wrote to her two sons and welcomed their friends. She had an open heart and an open home.

Here is what Nella Last didn’t have: She didn’t have email or Amazon or on-line grocery ordering. She didn’t have cable TV or video games or Zoom. She didn’t have sugar or coffee or butter or flour or eggs except for the smallest of rations. Nella didn’t have the knowledge that the next bombing would miss her home or her husband’s work place. She didn’t have a way to keep in close touch with her two sons, one of whom was in the military and the other a tax preparer whom the government exempted from military service. She didn’t have a husband who encouraged and supported her growing independence. Nella Last was an “ordinary, middle-class housewife” whose writing reveals how extraordinary she actually was. She was strong and resilient and even cheerful most of the time. She found needs and filled them. She kept her head down and moved forward, one day at a time. As a woman formerly dominated by men, she grew in awareness of her own strength. And she prevailed.

I am weathering our war on the powerful, sneaky, novel Covid-19 virus that has affected all our lives in what ways I can. It is heartbreaking that I can’t be with a single member of my family except for short, outdoor visits where we wear masks and maintain an 8 foot distance. I can’t hug anyone and it hurts. My cat is very old and fragile and might not live much longer, so he finds me and my lap whenever I am sitting down. We are an odd pair – he with his bony little body all curled up and me with my cup of tea and my phone. I spend time on Zoom, in meetings and gatherings, and I love that I can see and speak with my children and grandchildren. Sometimes my seven-year-old grandson reads a Mo Willems story to me on FaceTime. I make runs to the Post Office and to pick up groceries. And I sometimes walk around the high school track. I read and I draw and paint outside on my deck when the sun is out. This is National Letter Writing Month and I am sending letters and postcards to friends and acquaintances to remind them that we really do need to support the USPS. I make posters to remind Facebook and Instagram readers that immigrant children can’t wash their hands, or wear masks, or stay apart because they are still imprisoned and separated from their families who are waiting for them after two long years. I rail against the government and the President and the Attorney General and a host of other political figures during phone calls with my friends, and I rant on Facebook, knowing that I am just spitting into the wind. I am terrified of this virus because I don’t know if could survive it. I am 80. In the “vulnerable” group …i.e. “old.” And I am furious with those people who want everything open and back to normal, because I know full well that we will never see the old “normal” again. And if we try too fast to revert back, more people will die from this virus.

We have an opportunity to start fresh, taking better care of our environment, making do with fewer “things,” appreciating even the smallest of kindnesses, watching the Earth replenish itself as factories have lessened or stopped their production, use of fossil fuels has decreased, animals are reclaiming their habitats, and life has become simplified. Nella Last’s diary opened my eyes to how much we can grow and gain by using ingenuity and resolve and optimism. I am tucking the memory of her words in my pocket like a fresh handkerchief, carrying them around with me each day of this latest human experience. I hope you are also looking beneath the surface of inconvenience and fear and finding that even the smallest gestures do count and good people are everywhere.

by Judy McCarrick


The coronavirus stay-at-home restrictions have affected how we carry on our daily lives, how we conduct business, how we recreate, how BPWNC operates, and the universe of legislative and policy advocacy.

As your advocacy chair, I have had to adapt.  First, our legislative program of supporting selected women-focused bills introduced in the California legislature has halted.  The legislature recessed in March because of the virus, and will not meet again until May 4.  And, even then, the number of bills that may move forward is being scaled way back, because of the new priority, addressing the epidemic. For example, Dr. Pan, the author of legislation to address the STD epidemic, has announced that action on his bill will be postponed to next year.  Other bills are being withdrawn.  Furthermore, the state’s budget surplus has morphed into the prospect of a deficit in the face of massive expenditures to address related public welfare needs.  Therefore, no action is expected on bills that require funding of any kind, and a totally new schedule of hearings on the remaining viable bills must be devised, with the priority being the budget.  I plan to monitor the situation in the legislature, and present a revised advocacy plan to our board, which must vote to approve all BPWNC positions on bills.

At the same time, BPWNC has had the opportunity take other advocacy actions.

First, we joined in a letter to the Governor and legislative leaders asking that urgent action be taken to protect workers in our state by enhancing paid family leave, unemployment insurance and sick leave during the Covid-19 crisis.  Although the state has taken some initiative to protect the health, safety, and economic well-being of California’s workers, we believe that more is needed to expand these workplace protections and to provide economic relief. 

Separately, we joined an amicus brief in a case (California v. Becker, Kings County) involving bail, arguing for the lifting of bail for a woman charged with murder for the stillbirth of her child while she was addicted to drugs.  We opposed the notion of criminalizing addiction and the pregnancy outcome, as well as the unaffordable amount of bail, $2 million, and the continued detention of this woman in a high risk incarceration setting during the current COVID-19 epidemic.

As we stay safer in our homes and restrict our social interactions, we’ll do what we can to advance the health, wellbeing and rights of Californian working women and our most vulnerable fellow citizens. Thank you all for your support of BPWNC and our women-focused mission and advocacy.  

Elaine Sierra
Advocacy Chair


Club Business
Have you sent thank you cards to our valued vendors? If you did great!! If not please do so in appreciation of being available during this crazy time.
Please submit names and emails of friends
and family to become a friend of BPW submit
to Phyllis at by the 24th of
every month.

Let share ideas, thoughts and recommendations (like a book or netflix)you have with our fellow members! Send to Phyllis at by the 24th of every month.
A book I have been enjoying that is light and entertaining,"The Giver of Stars".
Something I always thought about doing was writing a family memoir, interviewing family and going through family photos to juggle the memory to give to my kids. Getting notes together now and possibly taking a class in writing a memoir through Sierra College, Ollie.program taught by Jude Rae...
~ Membership, Deb Armanino 415-786-1160
*** Please add Phyllis Orzalli e-mail ( to your address book to ensure it does not go to junk!
Mission Statement
The mission of the Business and Professional Women of Nevada County is to support and promote equity for women in all aspects of their lives.
~To promote personal and professional development for working women.
~To advocate on National, State, and Local legislative issues of importance
to working women.
~To support the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
~To promote the education of our members and the community in matters of women's equality as it relates to economics, employment, health, education, housing, civil rights, and other issues of equal opportunity.
Interested in joining our dynamic group of women?
Want to take on a lead role in our organization?

We need active members who have time and interest
in being a board member: president, vice president, secretary,
treasurer or program committee.

For only a few hours a month you can guide future endeavors of our great group. Please contact Mary Sivila at 530-346-7192 or email her at to discuss the great possibilities!
Our meetings are on hold until further notice.
Mary Sivila - 530.346.7192
Vice President
Becky Goodwin
Shirley Hall - 916.826.8944
Shannon Cotter - 530.798.1192
Deb Armanino - 415.786.1160
Our members - Submit an idea to the board.
Lynn Wenzel - 530.477.0746
Judy McCarrick - 530.478.0677
Elaine Sierra - 530.274.0738
Phyllis Orzalli - 530.913.8473
Phyllis Orzalli - 530.913.8473
Patricia Wolf - 530.273.0605
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Business & Professional Women of Nevada County · P.O. Box 2642 · Grass Valley, CA 95945 · USA

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