Branch News, Fall 2020

Diamond State Members Stay Active

Although many regular routines were disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions, Diamond State Branch, Delaware, members have remained active and productive during this pandemic.

Art member Anna Bellenger received the first Women in the Arts Award from the Chester County Chapter of NSDAR (National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution). Her accomplishments in creating new techniques and unique works of art are so strong and the recommendations so glowing that the approval process was very rapid.

This award does not require NSDAR membership, but it does require that the nominee be recognized for her accomplishments in her field as well as innovative in her techniques. Bellenger has demonstrated both. Sometime this autumn, the American Heritage Committee will present her with the award certificate and pin.

Art and letters member Maria Keane presented at the Fourth Annual Delaware Art Museum Writers’ Conference  in July. The conference topic was “Untold Stories” and Keane’s presentation was titled “Mary Magdalene: Saint/Sinner, Let’s Get It Right, Searching the History of Her Spirituality.”

The workshop suggested methods to research the valuable lives of women whose worth may have been overlooked or misconstrued in the annals of history. The conference was a virtual experience via Zoom.

Letters member Billie Tavalini hosted Lewes Creative Writers’ Conference — an event she founded — virtually, via Zoom, in August. The 13th annual conference began with readings on a Friday evening, followed on Saturday by two open sessions and two small critique workshops for poets. For prose writers, there were two open sessions and a small critique workshop in fiction and one in nonfiction.

The Diamond State Branch helps sponsor this event each year as part of its outreach program.

Greenwich Changes Guard While Social-Distancing

Sarah Littman, retiring president of the Greenwich  Pen Women, presents the president’s gavel to incoming  President Lee Paine
Sarah Littman, retiring president of the Greenwich
Pen Women, presents the president’s gavel to incoming President Lee Paine.
Photography by Josh Littman



Greenwich Pen Women made a smooth transition from retiring President Sarah Darer Littman to incoming President Lee Paine, the first local member to be admitted to the group in all three categories of art, letters, and music. The branch has been active in Greenwich since 1955.



Santa Clara County Introduces Two New Members

By Patricia Dennis

The Santa Clara County Pen Women recently welcomed new members Lori Howell Thompson and Gail Lockhart.

A multitalented, exuberant lady that is always on the go, Lori Howell Thompson started writing at a very tender age.

As a youngster, she could be found with pen and paper in hand, writing poems and stories while the other kids were playing. She carried her love of writing throughout the years and had articles published in the Carmel Pine and Monterey News and Views. Thompson was also the co-founder and publicist for the Monterey Poetry Review magazine, which had a circulation of 4,500 in three counties.

Lori Howell Thompson

To date, Thompson has written two children’s books, “An Adventure with Joshua and Hoppy Frog” and “Joshua and Rocky the Otter.” In addition, her mystery novel, “Reflections,” won awards as a converted screenplay.

Her personal quote is, “I live to write and write to live.” Thompson believes that life is a continuing story and her mind is always whirling around ideas how best to express that. She is already working on her next book.

Thompson is also an artist.

“I only took up painting two years ago when a dear friend saw my doodling and encouraged me to carry it further,” she says.

Since then, she has expanded from pencil to acrylic and oil. Two of her latest paintings are in the process of being juried in to an art show at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco.

Thompson said that when researching NLAPW, she was highly impressed that the organization was founded in 1897 and that it promotes, encourages, mentors, and supports fine art, writing, music, and much more.

“It is so encouraging to be able to be supported by like-minded women,” she says. “I want to be part of that and in turn help others by giving them the confidence to embrace and share their own talents. When a woman has confidence, she can step out and do almost anything.”

Also multitalented, Gail Lockhart joined under letters but will soon add art to her membership as well.

As a financial adviser for more than 15 years, Lockhart thought it important that children were also given the opportunity to learn about money.

Gail Lockhart

“Why not write a book for children,” she says. “They spend money; they work for it — let them know more about it, for they are the future of our buying and investing society.”

Her book, “Timmy and the Money Tree,” received a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award from the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs. In this children’s story, a little boy named Timmy and his family make a special trip to learn how paper money is made and distributed. Her second book, “Timmy and the Ice Cream Man,” teaches children the importance of correctly counting change. She is now working on her third, “Timmy and Allowances.”

Lockhart has further unleashed her creative side by becoming a stained-glass artist and a painter.

“For years, I have tried working with other mediums, beadwork, and drawing, but my heart was telling me they were not for me, until I discovered stained glass. Designing and creating my stained-glass pieces brings out a creative side in me that I did not know how to access,” she says. “Stained glass just makes my heart sing. I see a beautiful piece of colored glass and I ask myself, what design can I make with this?”

She says she joined NLAPW because she wanted to be part of an organization that gives back to the community — and that’s exactly what the branch’s annual scholarships do.

“I am inspired by the talent of the club and appreciate the camaraderie and support that is offered,” she says.

Boca Raton Supports Organizations in Need

The Boca Raton Branch has made donations to two Palm Beach County organizations, Milagro Center and Helping Hands, that provide food for families in need.

Milagro Center is an after-school outreach program for children of all ages. Because the branch won’t be able to hold its annual holiday party for the center this year, the Pen Women will connect with the teens via Zoom.

Helping Hands is a food pantry and has four locations throughout Palm Beach County. The organization distributes thousands of bags of food each month.

The Boca Raton Pen Women have scheduled a September Zoom meeting to introduce the branch’s board of directors. Several new members who recently joined also will have a chance to introduce themselves.

Honolulu Selects Winners in Annual Competition

Honolulu Branch is excited to announce the winners of the 2020 Lorin Tarr Gill Writing Competition. This contest is funded by members of the Gill family — a major, much appreciated commitment.

Anita ’Ilima Stern won second place in the poetry competition. A Honolulu Branch friend, Stern has attended every meeting prior to the pandemic and starts each meeting with a Hawaiian greeting.

The branch also acknowledges the honored judges, who included Tess Black, Dr. Craig Howes, Christy Passion, Dr. Craig Santos Perez, Leigh Saffold, and Frank Stewart. Each is a published author or editor who devoted time and effort to support NLAPW’s Honolulu Branch.

The competition operated entirely online, with a Zoom celebration of the winners being planned. The awardees are:

  • Fiction: Jeffery Ryan Long, first prize for “Notion of Forever”; Susan Soong, second place; Deborah Ross, third; and Tom Gammarino, honorable mention.
  • Poetry: Leslie A. Hayashi (member), first place for “Goodnight Mom, Goodnight Dad”; Anita ’Ilima Stern (friend of the branch), second; Eric Paul Shaffer, third; and John Simonds, honorable mention.
  • Nonfiction: Eric Paul Shaffer, first place for “Gnats in the Kula Sunset in March”; Kristin M. McAndrews, second; Tabby Viso-Naffah, third; and Sabra Rae Feldstein (member), honorable mention.

Diablo-Alameda, Santa Clara County Join in Meeting

By Winifred Thompson, Diablo-Alameda Branch President

The Diablo-Alameda and Santa Clara County branches had their first joint Zoom meeting in August to discuss the effects of racism and prejudice on members of color and those who are immigrants. National President Evelyn Wofford participated from Washington, D.C.

Julie Cohn, Diablo-Alameda Branch vice president, was Zoom host and moderator. Keynote speakers were NorCal President Dorothy Atkins and Diablo-Alameda Branch Treasurer Usha Shukla.

“You have to be uncomfortable before you are comfortable to approach the subject of racism,” Atkins said.

During the joint meeting, Pen Women from both branches shared comments about how racism is based on color and how racism is learned, taught, and perpetuated.

“It’s easy, but unfair, to stereotype immigrants,” Shukla said. “We must strive to treat all people as we would want to be treated — regardless of their country of origin.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, members agreed that they must change the narrative and speak out against hate. Being callous to a person can destroy their self-respect. We must work together to educate and enlighten.

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