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E dith Edde is an associate member of GALs, having been a part of the group since the beginning. She relocated to Gilroy in 1957 from Southern California, where she was an associate member of an Assistance League chapter. At that time, she joined a group known of as the Children’s Home Society that was comprised of 15 women who helped mothers who were in need of support as they went through pregnancies, natal care and adoption procedures. But the need for their efforts changed over time and their direction broadened to supporting groups with youth-oriented causes. Edde held various offices in the organization over the years, including president. She has remained an associate member for the past 25 years. Now “retired” from GALs, she said, “I still attend the same things that they do. It’s still a good group of women.” GALs depicts a balance of dedication and comradery. “Everyone is very active,” Edde said. “It’s a fun group but it does take time. And in the 50 years I worked on it, I saw lots of people with lots of talent who were willing to give of their talents to help children in this area.” Donna Pray, who refers to herself as “the most senior active member,” echoes the sentiment of hard work and kinship she has found at GALs. Pray grew up in Menlo Park when it had a small town feel, similar to Gilroy. She wanted her children to have that same experience—to be able to ride their bikes in the street like she did. So she and her husband moved to Gilroy in 1977 where they raised their four children. After moving, she got into volunteerism because she didn’t know anyone. “I went to my children’s school. Before I knew it, I was the PTA president. I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home- mom during my children’s school years.” Pray became involved in the Gilroy Foundation, a nonprofit that awards scholarships and provides grants to other nonprofits, in 1988 when she founded the Day in the Country fundraiser for the Foundation with Patty Filice. Then in 1992, Pray was nominated by another member to join GAL. “I was very excited because I am a champion of youth-oriented needs and that is just what this group works for!” GAL grants do not necessarily need to go to non-profits, according to Pray. “In the 1990s, a group of moms who lived in an apartment house asked for money to plant a garden and grow vegetables and fruit—they asked for $350 for seedlings. It can be a small group that’s just doing something good with their kids.” However, GALs members have different priorities and ideas when voting on grants. “When I vote,” Pray said, “I try to reach as many people as I can. I try to give to a group that’s going to make an impact to 50 kids. Sometimes they are larger organizations.” A grant committee, led by grant chair Gina Anderson, reads all the applications; then all 35 members go online, read the applications and vote through a rating system. The top six or seven ranked applicants typically receive grant funds. “We vote privately,” Pray explained. “But if you have your heart set on some- thing, you lobby for things and talk it up: ‘I’ll vote for your thing, but I want you to vote for this.’ So, that’s lots of fun.” “The recipients are varied,” Pray said. “They include art programs or anything a kid would be interested in.” The City of Gilroy reading program, Community Solutions, and St. Joseph’s Family Center have been consistent recipients of GALs grants over the years. Other grant GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2017 recipients include the City of Gilroy Adaptive Recreation Program (formerly Special Olympics) and Gilroy Future Farmers of America. Another special recipient is Unspoken Works—one mother’s vision, originated to demonstrate to her own children how well-off they are compared to other kids. This volunteer group stuffs backpacks annually with school supplies, deodorant, and feminine needs. GAL has donated $2000 for the past two years. “It’s nice to do extra things for kids,” Pray said. “But when you don’t have the basics, it makes us feel extra good to satisfy the basics.” Unfortunately, GALs can’t meet the needs of all the grant applicants. According to Pray, “Last year, requests were just over $72,000, and we were only able to award $21,000.” But over the last 10 years, GAL has awarded some $144,589 in grants. Every year at Christmas, GALs adopts and buys gifts for a few families in Gilroy. With only 35 members at a time, GALs works hard to raise funds to support the grants they fund. The Home and Garden Tour has been the major fundraiser since 2006. “Committees meet all year-round to put it on,” Pray said. “First, we have to procure a home, not necessarily a castle or a palace-type home. But people love big homes in the forests, too.” Pray explained, “We get a referral for a home, then we look at a home, occasionally stage it, work with florists who do this for exposure and leave the arrangements with the homeowner at the end.” She added, “Owners use this as an excuse to finish long-put off projects, wallpaper or renovation. We leave the home—including the first day—to look like we were never there. And we are very careful with that. I think showing respect gmhtoday.com 53