Formation & Guild 1927 to 1937

In 1927 a group of twelve women who were members of the Woman’s Club of Santa Monica started meeting to sew and review books.  In 1930 they decided to call themselves “The Assistance Guild of Santa Monica.” The membership of 25 made layettes that were distributed to families in need. Money was raised from a series of garden parties, teas, raffles and dances. For several years, one of the most profitable ventures was to present a play with members taking part.

This group was so vital and energetic that a founding member became intrigued with becoming part of National Assistance League, a charitable organization in Hollywood begun in 1919. In October 1936, after many meetings with Mrs. Hancock Banning, Founder and President, the Assistance Guild filed its petition for membership.

During its probationary period, an old house in Santa Monica was rented. A Girls Club project was adopted, with guild members providing afternoon and Saturday care for daughters of working mothers. They opened a gift shop to help finance the project. The Assistance Guild successfully completed its probationary period in August 1937.

Chartering and early expansion 1937-1939

The Guild became Assistance League of Santa Monica and a chapter of National Assistance League in October 1937. A formal installation ceremony was attended by Mrs. Banning and Mrs. Ada Laughlin, Founders of Assistance League. Santa Monica was the fourth chapter of the national organization, preceded by Southern California (Founder Chapter) in 1919, San Pedro in May 1936 and Santa Ana in June 1937.

To reinforce membership and expand philanthropic activities, the chapter invited another local group, Las Amigas, to join them in 1939. Both groups were organized initially as young matrons’ auxiliaries to the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club and had similar social and philanthropic interests.

Santa Monica Day Nursery 1939 to 1999

In June 1939, the chapter was given the opportunity to establish a large philanthropy of its own when the Board of the Santa Monica Parent Teacher Council turned over the operation of its Day Nursery School for a 3-year probationary period. At the end of that time, a deed to the lot and building was given to the chapter with the provision that it remain a nursery school for 25 years. About the same time, the gift shop was closed and an annual bazaar became the chief fundraiser, with members making many of the items for sale. Money was also raised at parties, teas, raffles, fashion shows and balls.

The thriving day nursery was the chapter’s only philanthropic program for many years.  The day nursery was renovated and enlarged in 1947. In 1948 the chapter bought the cottage next door at 1439 15th Street. The house on this property was called “The Cottage” and used for chapter meetings. Members also met for philanthropy meetings to make layettes for families in need and cot sheets and curtains for the school. The house on the back of the lot was rented. In 1953, the adjoining lot was purchased, increasing the playground area. A new classroom wing to the brick school was completed in 1957. A chapter house was built in 1964 to replace “The Cottage.”

On February 26, 1992, the Santa Monica Day Nursery name was changed to Assistance League of Santa Monica Preschool/Kindergarten. As a result of the 1994 earthquake and subsequent building code changes by the City of Santa Monica, the brick building needed to be demolished. In 1999, the sad decision was made to close the preschool.  The chapter investigated and began adding other programs to support the community where needed. Visit Programs on this website for information about our programs.

Bargain Bazaar – Thrift Shop – Chapter House 1958 to today

The first thrift shop – The Bargain Bazaar – was opened in the spring of 1958 in rented property on Montana Avenue.  The shop was moved to rental property on Pico 1964/65 (black and white photo).  In 1965 the chapter purchased property at 1411 Seventeenth Street. On December 28, 1990 that property was sold, and the proceeds used to build a two-story structure with underground parking on our property south of the nursery school on Fifteenth Street. The grand opening of the new Bargain Bazaar was celebrated on April 26, 1992. The chapter completed the second floor of the building and in June of 2006 it was opened as the chapter house with ample space for meetings, office, conference room, kitchen and storage.

Today, the Thrift Shop is the primary fundraising activity of the chapter that supports our philanthropic programs. Assistance League of Santa Monica is proud to continue its long tradition of service to the children and families of the Santa Monica Bay area. We are one of 120 chapters in the national organization helping people in need in their local community.


National Assistance League Founder Anne Banning felt that women work best in like-minded groups and began having auxiliaries in some Assistance League chapters starting in the 1930s. Today our only auxiliary is Night Lights Auxiliary. Click on About Us to see their page. The following are our dissolved auxiliaries who contributed so much to the chapter.

  • Half-Timer Auxiliary was organized in 1959 by a group of formerly active members including 9 charter members of the chapter. Membership was limited to 40, with 10 years or more of active service a requirement. They helped staff the Thrift Shop, presented an annual gift to the Day Nursery and established the Half-Timer’s Emergency Fund to be used towards a nursery scholarship or for medical emergencies. Half-Timers held three annual social events. In recent years, members continued to participate in chapter activities. The Auxiliary dissolved in 2014 and the two remaining members became nonvoting members of the chapter.
  • Las Fortunas Auxiliary began in 1966. For many years their members’ artistic and creative talents were showcased at a holiday boutique that raised funds for our philanthropic programs. The Auxiliary was dissolved in 2011.
  • Assisteens® were daughters of chapter members or friends. The Auxiliary was dissolved in 1981.
  • Questers Auxiliary was formed in 1963 for the purpose of promoting cultural activities in the community. The Questers continued until February 1972.

Founding Members in 1937

  • Betty Ashly
  • Dorothy (Bates) Furnari
  • Peggy Bergmann
  • Margaret Bivens
  • Virginia Bro
  • Mary Cassidy
  • Hortense Clark
  • Catherine Cleveland
  • Ethelyn Dickinson
  • Thelma French
  • Jane Ross Fugle
  • Peggy (Fugle) Heffernan
  • Margaret Gates
  • Marjorie Gibbens
  • Peggy Hay
  • Eleanor Higgins
  • Katherine Highsmith
  • Agnes Hutton
  • Florence Loud
  • Carmen Madsen
  • Nano Mann
  • Eleanor (McNabb) Fuller
  • Dorothy Michel
  • Gladys Miesse
  • Inez Millard
  • Ruth Millard
  • Jean Mills
  • Hazel O’Brien
  • Dorcas Sigworth Pagh
  • Nadia Pratt
  • Louise (Reimers) Muhl
  • Ruth Sands
  • Ruth Ann Spaulding
  • Martha Spellman
  • Mable Stolee
  • Helen Storrs
  • Olive Sutherland
  • Pat Turner
  • Marjorie Van Blaricom
  • Helen Vaughn
  • Dorothy Wesson
  • Sue Zwicker

Hatsie Dahlem, President 1956 and 1960

Past Presidents

  • 1936-37 — Marjorie Gibbens *
  • 1938-39 — Eleanor Higgins (Mrs. E. C.) *
  • 1940 — Mary Cassidy (Mrs. Hiram E.) *
  • 1941-42 — Margaret (Stevens) Fargo
  • 1943 — Frances Bailey (Mrs. F. Lonsdale) *
  • 1944 — Peggy Redwine (Mrs. Gwyn) *
  • 1945 — Peggy Hay (Mrs. Daniel C.) *
  • 1946 — Thelma French (Captain Lawrence H.) *
  • 1947 — Catherine Edgerton (Howard) *
  • 1948 — Betty Young (Mrs. John W.)
  • 1949 — Hazel O’Brien (Parry) *
  • 1950 — Erma White (Dr. Albert J.) *
  • 1951 — Beulah Generaux (Carnie) *
  • 1952 — Louise Fitzgerald (Mrs. Elbert) *
  • 1953 — Virginia Card (Mrs. Benjamin F.) *
  • 1954 — Myra Adams (Dalton) *
  • 1955-56 — Mary Malcolm (Ralph) *
  • 1956 — Hatsie Dahlem (Mrs. Maurice J.) *
  • 1957 — Jean Mills (Mrs. Wellman B.) *
  • 1958 — Mary Wendell (Everett)
  • 1959 — Betty Magnus (Charles)
  • 1960 — Hatsie Dahlem (Mrs. Maurice J.) *
  • 1961 — Barbara Davis (George W.) *
  • 1962 — Betsy Blanke (Mrs. Oliver B.) *
  • 1963 — Dorothy Sorensen (Mrs. Royal M.) *
  • 1964 — Virginia Brown (Mrs. C. Edward)
  • 1965 — Mary Petty (Dr. Walter E.) *
  • 1966 — Roberta Smithson (Dr. Robert A.) *
  • 1967 — Judy Hart (Albert M.) *
  • 1968 — Felice Crane (Richard) *
  • 1969 — Judy Hart (Albert M.) *
  • 1970-71 — Lois Reed (Mrs. Warren D.) *
  • 1972 — Helen Wise (Mrs. Lewis)
  • 1973 — Floy Ware (Willis H.) *
  • 1974 — Shirley Svenson (Mrs. Eric)
  • 1975-76 — Mary Alice Reynolds *
  • 1977-78 — Harriet Dooley (James)*
  • 1979-80 — Phyllis Grant (Ian) *
  • 1981-82 — Ruth Zimmerman (Thomas)*
  • 1983-84 — Altheah Adkins (Mrs. John) *
  • 1985 — Alice Jones (Mrs. William) *
  • 1986-87 — Mary Burnett (Merrill) *
  • 1988-89 — Marianne Leinbach (Charles)
  • 1990-91 — Doris Farrar (Mrs. Elmon H.) *
  • 1992 — Pat Armstrong (Jack) *
  • 1993 — Jeri McKee (Mrs. Ralph)*
  • 1994 — Roberta Dundore (Charles)*
  • 1995-96 — Jeannine Richards (Victor)
  • 1997 — Barbara Parker (Richard)
  • 1998 — Carleen Bentley *
  • 1999-2001 — Marti Desmond
  • 2002-3 — Sylvia Canady (Charles)
  • 2004-5 — Lorraine Colich (Milan)
  • 2006-7 — Jane Moriarty (Robert) *
  • 2007-8 — Marti Desmond
  • 2009-10 — Barbara Parker
  • 2010-2012 — Barbara Feick
  • 2012-2014 — Sue Ferrell
  • 2014-2016 — Joyce Landsverk
  • 2016-2017 — Anne Salenger
  • 2017-2019 — Barbara Parker

* Deceased