A young mother’s child was ill and was being treated at a San Diego hospital. The young mother had to make daily trips to San Diego to be with her child, but the cost of gas made it a struggle she might not be able to overcome.
The DOVES were there.
Another woman needed support in having a ramp built to ease her access into her home.
The DOVES were there, too.
A young man was returning to school but needed a backpack and some appropriate clothing. The young man’s principal sought help.
The DOVES were also there, just as they have been a support annually for 25 years to the Imperial Valley, donating up to $45,000 each year to local organizations and agencies that serve the needs of women and children Valleywide. The group also helps individuals with emergency needs.
Who are the DOVES?
You already know them. They are 30 women from throughout the Imperial Valley — your co-workers, your friends, your neighbors — who have quietly and without much fanfare devoted their time to a philanthropic effort focused on raising funds for the betterment of women and children.
As the DOVES celebrate their silver anniversary, they do so knowing that since the group’s inception in 1985, they have raised close to $700,000 to help the Valley, most of that raised each year through the organization’s one grand annual event — Monte Carlo night.
“If it focuses on women and children, that’s where we are,” says DOVES member Cherié Watte Angulo of El Centro.
The DOVES’ Tale
DOVES is an acronym. It stands for Donors of Valley Endeavors, but the name DOVES is how the group is most widely recognized. Prior to the founding of DOVES, there was a group of women in the Valley who served in another organization — the Imperial Valley chapter of Children’s Home Society, which also raised funds for women and children.
That group operated under the umbrella of a San Diego chapter.
In 1985 the decision was made to disband the local chapter and form a new group, one that would have more flexibility and be able to ensure all funds raised locally went to serve the needs of the Valley’s women and children.
Those original 30 members formed DOVES. Today, DOVES continues to operate with 30 women who represent all corners of the Imperial Valley and all walks of life, from professionals to homemakers. They are women aged 40 and older whose lives may be very different, but they all share something in common.
“Every member of DOVES has a resume of community service,” says Brawley resident Patricia “Patty” Russell. “Everyone has been active in their community.”
Brawley resident Debbie Cameron, while not a founder, is one of the group’s longest standing members, and she says the importance of the cause keeps her involved each year.
“It’s a really good cause to raise money for women and children in the Valley, and I hope we inspire other women to volunteer and give back to their community,” Cameron says.
To interview members of DOVES is to experience first hand a group that runs on high energy and a group that has come to depend and trust each other’s talents and abilities so that their annual objective can be accomplished.
“Everyone has a different talent, a different passion,” explains Russell, who is a generational member of DOVES in that her daughter, Lori Young of Brawley, is also a member. In fact, it was Young, another of the longest standing members, who got Russell involved. “You get 30 women together with passion and you can accomplish anything.”
The Goal — Monte Carlo
Each year, the DOVES have a singular focus — to raise as much money as possible (in recent years about $45,000 annually to help charitable and civic organizations that serve women and children.)
Groups wishing to receive funding from DOVES apply through a carefully organized application and screening process. The DOVES then select groups to receive funding support based on their programs and needs. This year some 15 organizations will receive donations. Among those 15 are groups like Boys and Girls Club of Imperial Valley, Center For Family Solutions, Girl Scouts of Imperial Valley, Charlee Family Care, Inc., and the Cancer Resource Center of the Desert.
How do the DOVES raise the funding for such groups?
They do so largely through their annual fundraising event — the Monte Carlo night. It is an event where those who attend are treated to an evening of entertainment, food and games all in the name of the causes DOVES will be donating to for the year.
Members say the Monte Carlo fundraising event, to be held March 19 from 7-11 p.m. at the Stockmen’s Club in Brawley, is no simple affair.
It takes a great deal of time, planning and organization — it takes the efforts of all 30 women combining their different skills to make the annual event the success it has become.
Brawley resident and DOVES member Mary Emanuelli is co-chairwoman of this year’s Monte Carlo event along with Debbie Cameron. She says the Monte Carlo fundraising event would not be possible without the support of the community.
“We are so appreciative of what the community allows us to do,” she admits.
Not only does the Imperial Valley community come out in large numbers each year for the event, but local residents, businesses and organizations help sponsor the event and help provide up to the more than 100 door prizes and grand prizes.
In addition, community members each year have given to the organization, becoming angels, patronesses and patrons — titles they earn based on their level of donations.
“Without all the support, DOVES would be nothing,” Emanuelli says. “This is the most generous community I have ever seen.”
While the DOVES are known for their Monte Carlo night, they are also known for their cooking talents — which are shown off during the fundraising event.
“We start planning the food a month in advance,” says Young, who is co-chairwoman of the DOVES cooking committee. “It is the best party put on in the Valley with the best food.” Pam Mansfield, of Imperial, is the other food chairwoman.
She adds one reason the food is such a standout is that every member gets involved in the preparation in whatever way they can.
In the time leading up to the event, the group holds cooking parties as they map out and prepare the food.
“What makes the group so strong is that everyone is dependable,” Young says. “This group can’t work unless all 30 women are engaged.”
She adds some 50 food items will be on the menu during the Monte Carlo night, from seafood to a desert table, and all of it will have been prepared by the DOVES, who are so well known for their cooking talents that they have prepared two cookbooks filled with local recipes, the most recent of which can be purchased with proceeds again being used as donations to the causes the DOVES support. Proceeds also support an emergency fund the group keeps to help individuals in need.
With this year marking the group’s 25th anniversary, they look forward to the continued success of their Monte Carlo night not only this year but in the years to come as they say their cause is worthwhile and must continue.
And they have no doubt it will continue.
“There are so many women prepared to be DOVES,” Young says. “We won’t ever have a problem finding women to be DOVES.”
Cameron says she hopes the next generation in the Valley learns from the work done by the DOVES.
“We need to inspire our kids and other kids in the Imperial Valley area to become involved in their communities,” she says. “We have to give back to our community to make it a better place, and DOVES is a great organization that does that.”
To purchase tickets for the DOVES’ Monte Carlo night and to order a DOVES’ cookbook, email the group at email@example.com or call Mary Emanuelli at 760-455-7215.
The DOVES also have a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=188288931196881