Monday, July 25, 2005 | I was absolutely thrilled with the positive feedback that I received from my first article on “Volunteerism in San Diego.” This column appeared in the June 14 edition of Voice of San Diego, and the comments that were made were heart-warming. I heard from old friends and new friends. Because I was a first time columnist – and because I was also out of town without my computer – I didn’t know how to handle this overwhelming response. I have since devised a system. I appreciate your interest and your willingness to share experiences.
I will answer all e-mails. I will submit some of the e-mails to the editor for possible inclusion as letters to the editor, and I will make note of all the suggestions for future column subjects. I will also explore related ideas.
Some of the ideas that have been suggested for content are as follows:
– How to introduce yourself to an organization for which you’re interested in volunteering.
I would very much like to hear from you, Voice of San Diego readers, about your interests.
One theme came through loud and clear. Many people enjoy hearing and sharing fun volunteer stories. Not only do the stories provide pleasant memories of volunteer jobs, but they highlight some of the experiences we have all had. So each month I will share a special memory.
Because it is July and one of the premier social events of San Diego – the Jewel Ball- will occur Aug. 6, I will tell a Jewel Ball remembrance. The Jewel Ball is a gala dinner-dance created and executed by Las Patronas. Las Patronas was founded in the late ’40s by four La Jolla matrons. They invited 46 of their friends and decided to have a fundraising spectacular evening.
In those days, many wealthy Texans spent August in La Jolla, and the early Las Patronas ladies decided to take advantage of this to raise funds for local causes. They worked terribly hard. They created a memorable evening at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, they sold ads to local merchants for a program, which sometimes took the form of a calendar, and they also gathered prizes for what was then called a raffle. These prizes included trips, classic cars and lavish jewelry.
These ladies not only worked full-time on the Jewel Ball but enlisted the aid of their families and friends. My mother was president of Las Patronas in 1950, and I remember as a little girl spending many summer days hauling pots of flowers to decorate the perimeter of the dance floor.
The 1950 Jewel Ball Committee was absolutely thrilled when they received a donation for their raffle of a grand prize that exceeded their dreams – a piece of diamond jewelry. I have tried and tried, but I cannot remember if it was a necklace or a bracelet but it still shines vividly in my memory. They sold a record number of raffle tickets prior to the evening and then as the evening and the liquor flowed, they sold more and more. The prize was displayed on the piano on which the band pianist played. The evening was spectacular and very successful.
As the party wound down, the caterers were anxious to do a final clean-up so they had the drawing for the diamonds. The winner was present and went to the piano to claim the prize. Everyone was horrified to find that the jewels were missing.
It never even entered anyone’s mind that they could be anywhere but in the trash, and so my mother, as president, and my father and the Jewel Ball Chair and her husband started going through the cans of trash and garbage. At about 5 a.m., they found it.
These couples remained fast friends until their deaths and often laughed at the memory of evening gowns and tuxedos covered with lettuce and napkins as they sorted garbage throughout the night.
One of the recurring comments from readers has been that the friendships made during volunteer service are one of the greatest rewards of that commitment. I know that I will dedicate these columns to the volunteers who have shared the dreams, the passion and the commitment with me.
Jane Trevor Fetter has been a volunteer in the San Diego community for over 45 years. She is currently chairing the San Diego Foundation’s 30th anniversary celebration on Oct. 15, 2005 at the San Diego Convention Center. You can e-mail her at