“We like to make it thematic,” explains Marsha Mather-Thrift, Executive Director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust. For the annual benefit dinner this past Saturday, Mather-Thrift helped organize an evening that looked and felt like the party in the Richmond of WWII, from patriotic live music, to a venue decorated to fit the era.
“This dinner helps show off our history and how we’re bringing it forward. It also gets everyone in the mood of the supper clubs people went to after a day working in the shipyards,” the Executive Director says.
The event serves as one of the biggest fundraising opportunities for the trust, which runs the Rosie the Riveter WWII / Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond. Since the park itself is free (although donations are always welcome), the funds from these annual dinners help bolster the trust’s efforts.
The benefit dinner also served as an opportunity to educate the next generation of Rosies. Rosalyn Sternberg, Development Associate at the trust, explains: “With the theme of this year’s dinner, ‘You’ve Come a Long Way, Rosie!’, we are really trying to bring history forward and make it alive for everybody. We want to talk about how far we’ve come with equality and how far we still have to go.
A group of eight original Rosies helped foster this discussion. The Rosies — all of whom are in their 80’s and 90’s — talked about how their time in the shipyards broke barriers for women in the workplace. They also met with prospective applicants for Rosie’s Girls, a summer camp for teen girls to learn hands-on skills and independence.
Over 200 Rosie supporters came out to the historical Italian-American Galileo Club for the dinner. The setting of the Galileo Club, a social club which has been open since 1938, helped amplify the historical ambiance of the evening. As the Rosie the Riveter Trust gets ready to celebrate its 15th anniversary, celebratory dinners like this help keep the history of the shipyards fresh for future generations.
To learn more about the Rosie the Riveter Trust and the Visitor Center, click here.
Photo courtesy Ellen Gailing