A small group of intelligent, educated women with common interests held an organizational meeting Feb. 12, 1972, to establish the Stuart Area Branch of AAUW. The group received recognition by the state in April and was granted a national charter June 27, 1972. The first meeting of the new group was conducted Sept. 23 of that year.
Throughout the decade of the 70’s the branch initiated action on its commitment to make a difference in the community for women and girls. Members compiled and distributed a Directory of Community Services. The branch participated in a FL AAUW project to help mature citizens Find employment and co-sponsored a women’s resource center.
As a 1975 Bicentennial project, the branch created “Martin County Women, Past, Present and Future,” a series of biographies of women who helped develop the county. The series was published in the Stuart News and followed by the publication of the book Profiles which was supported by a grant from the AAUW Educational Foundation.
In 1978 the branch produced BLIS, a Bi-Lingual Interpreter Services booklet distributed throughout the county for most of the next 20 years.
The Stuart Area Branch expanded its on-going programs by helping introduce the noted Laubach course to help fight illiteracy. In 1989, the 75th birthday of the city of Stuart, the branch presented “A Self-Directed Historic Tour of Stuart.”
The 90’s marked a period of significant growth. The branch’s membership surpassed 200. In ’95-’96 the branch sponsored a public forum “A Community Looks at Juvenile Crime.” Relevant social issues were aired among community leaders in Woman-to-Woman Forums.
In 1999 a highly successful Sister-to-Sister Summit for middle school girls was held in conjunction with a number of other organizations and received extensive press coverage in local newspapers and FL AAUW publications. That same year branch members began teaching the state’s Financial Independence for Girls (FIG) course at the PACE Center for Girls, an alternative educational program, and providing holiday gifts for the girls.
The successful FIG course was repeated for the next several years at the Pace Center, and in ’01-’03 was taught for the women of an organization providing transitional housing and education to homeless women.
The branch partnered with the Port St. Lucie Branch to hold a Woman-to-Woman Forum in the spring of ’02; both branches received a mini-grant from FL AAUW to help underwrite the project.
Branch members have continued the annual collection and distribution of items for SafeSpace with increased generosity.
In conjunction with the League of Women Voters, the branch has held candidate forums prior to all local elections.
The branch website <stuartaauw.org> provides current information on all branch projects, meetings, historical data, and links to FL AAUW and the AAUW websites.
Stuart AAUW again lent its name to literacy by supporting the United Way’s Success by Six program in book drives and by members reading in local elementary schools. A Jeopardy game highlighting women’s accomplishments was presented to 5th graders at Port Salerno Elementary.
To demonstrate the significance of Title IX and athletics in girls’ lives, AAUW partnered with the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals to hold golf tournaments to benefit Martin County girls’ athletics.
During ’07-’08, aided by a grant from FL AAUW, the branch’s Contemporary Women interest group conducted an early learning/ reading project with a pre-kindergarten class at the Port Salerno Learning Center. Going forward this group continues to be the community outreach arm of the Stuart Branch. Since 1975 the branch has awarded more than 125 scholarships totaling more than $165,000 to deserving high school graduates and to women graduating from local colleges. From 2001 until 2007 the branch partnered with The Iris Arnowitt Foundation to award graduates of Indian River Community College scholarships. During the summer 2010, the branch sponsored three high school girls in Indian River State College’s Quest program,aimed at introducing young people to career opportunities in areas such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This summer our branch sponsored 15 young ladies!!
.The branch’s newsletter Sailfish Lines has received many awards from FL AAUW. The branch has received recognition from FL AAUW as well as the AAUW for its many accomplishments, and throughout the years many of the branch’s members have served on the FL AAUW board.
The Stuart Area Branch has attracted some of the most influential, talented, and energetic women of the community into its membership ranks. Branch members have excelled in their commitment to serve and support the women and girls of Martin County. Their accomplishments are legion and well recognized. The Stuart Area Branch’s members continue to go forward to actualize the AAUW mission.
Celebrating Our 45th Anniversary!!