About the Tulare County League of Mexican American Women
The Tulare County League of Mexican-American Women was founded in September 1979 when seven like-minded ladies met for the first time. The seven ladies were Gloria Aguilar, Elia Densmore, Linda Jasso, Olivia Medina, Rosemary Mendoza, Mona Menjares, and Susan Wright. Three ladies from the Fresno League of Mexican American Women, Dolly Arredondo, Josie Mena, and Betty Rodriguez, came to Visalia to talk to them and shared how they got started in Fresno. In October 1979, the Visalia ladies held a luncheon at the North Visalia Community Center and about 60 women signed up as members of “the League”. One of those who attended and joined in 1979 is Norma Cano who is the League’s President for 2018.
At the beginning, we were affiliated with Comision Femenil Mexicana Nacional, based in L.A. and Carmen Cantu was President of the Comision from 1986-1988. We participated in state-wide issues and conferences. Throughout the 80s, the League did fundraising by setting up a booth at community events and selling chile verde plates and fruit cups. For Christmas, we would get together and make, and then sell tamales. The money raised allowed the League to give scholarships, have women’s conferences, participate in cultural events, and sponsor a book fund at the College of the Sequoias.
One of the most important fundraisers, and a very successful cultural event, was our Noche de Cultura shows. At these shows we would showcase historical time periods with an individual’s story and clothing that they wore at that time. Lots of hours were spent on making outfits, on the research, and the planning of the presentation. The titles were: 1984 – Costumes of Mexico, 1985-Aztec Splendor, 1986-Tesoros del Pasado, 1987-Encuentro Tropical, 1988-El Rebozo y La Revolucion, 1989-Recuerdos y Celebracion, 1990-El Camino Real, 1991-Fiesta Ranchera, 1992-Un Viaje Sentimental, 1993-Mayan Mystique, 1994-Feria de las Flores, 1995-Cielito Lindo, and 1996-Celebrando Nuestra Herencia. The Visalia Convention Center was filled with attendees.
Beginning in 1987, the League members produced six plays that filled local theaters. Three of them were “The House of Bernarda Alba”, Fractured Fairytales”, and “Women Without Men”. Ted Varela was the director.
Also, from 1995-2000, the League sponsored the “Junior League” out of Redwood High School in Visalia. It was a popular school club that hosted many activities.
Whenever possible, we host an art show as part of our other events. Some of the artists we have hosted are Esperanza Martinez, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, and Richard Arenas. We love how inspiring artists are. They energize us. We also sponsor book club activities, cultural workshops, and films that promote exposure to diversity.
The mission of the TCLMAW is to promote the advancement of Mexican American women through educational attainment, leadership development, cultural enrichment, and civic action throughout Tulare County. We host quarterly luncheon meetings where we have featured speakers. In March, we celebrate Women's History Month, in June we honor our scholarship winners and their families, in September we focus on education, health, or current event issues, and in December we host a Christmas boutique where we host local businesswomen who sell their own products and we conclude a community service project.
The League is an all-volunteer organization. Results are achieved through the partnership and support of the community. We are proud that we have developed and maintain a well-organized scholarship program. Long term, we anticipate that our annual scholarship winners will acquire a college education and degree, which will then improve the quality of the lives of 10 families in Tulare County. Ultimately, the impact will include hundreds of others in the community who are touched in some way, including economically, by the members of these 10 families.
We welcome anyone who is interested to join our organization. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tclmaw, or on the internet at www.tclmaw.org.