Turnstyle chairman Pat Reed, right, honored volunteer Laura Sale, center, and Assistance League President Gladys Baggetta, right, work in the Turnstyle Thrift Shop.
With 50 years under her belt as a volunteer in San Mateo County’s Assistance League, Laura Sale is being honored with a scholarship under her name.
Sale, 87, began working with the group in her mid-30s and the scholarship in her name will go to young women returning to education after time off. For the past 10 years, it’s been her pet project to help women complete their community college degrees.
“It’s so rewarding to see how happy they are,” said Sale, who lives in Burlingame Hills. “I was surprised and overwhelmed with the award.”
The local Assistance League sends two women to each of the three community colleges in the area with its scholarship. Sale said she never thought her membership would extend for so many years.
“I don’t think anyone ever looks ahead 50 years,” said Sale, who is married with two sons, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “My whole family got involved and it was a beautiful organization. We could do what we really felt was important in the community.”
For her work, she was honored by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, and received 50 roses to mark her years as a volunteer.
One such important thing was establishing Operation School Bell, the organization’s largest initiative, during her presidency in 1970. This program, funded mostly from proceeds from the Turnstyle Thrift Shop in downtown San Mateo, provides free and new clothing to needy students in grades K-7 in a total of 21 schools from Daly City to East Palo Alto.
“There were two outstanding things that happened during my time here,” she said. “One was signing the first contract for Operation School Bell [with local schools]. The other was securing a chapter house. At the time, the area was filled with women’s volunteer organizations that did nothing but raise money.”
The difference for Assistance League, and what explains its longevity, is the fact the volunteers get to be hands-on with where the money goes, Sale said.
“It’s a good thing to have volunteers,” she said. “They’re worth more than their weight in gold.”
Still, the Assistance League has evolved over the years, Sale said.
“It has changed because the world has changed,” said Sale, who worked as a publisher for a time, but was a housewife for most of her life. “Most members have had careers outside of the home.”
The group is still doing well and membership is up, said Sale, who went to College of William & Mary in Virginia before transferring to University of California at Los Angeles.
“It’s rewarding to see we’re taking up more members,” she said.
For more information on the Assistance League visit sanmateocounty.assistanceleague.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105