Kiwanis honors women for history month


It was an opportunity to honor the women of Long Beach who have volunteered their time and effort to make the city a happier, healthier and more equitable place.

About 100 people turned out for a Sunday morning brunch at the 777 restaurant on West Beech Street to pay tribute to Helen Alessi of the Latino Civic Association, Abbi Golding of the Long Beach Arts Council and Johanna Sofield of the Long Beach Christmas Angels Foundation. The Long Beach Kiwanis Club sponsored the event.

The three, pleased to be recognized for their work over the years and proud of the accomplishments women have made over the decades, nonetheless said much work still needed to be done to gain wage and other parity with men in the workforce.

Golding, who has produced plays for the Long Beach Carolers to benefit the Long Beach Soup Kitchen, said the pay parity is still a prime issue for women in America.

“We have to do twice as much work to get equal footing,” Golding said. She was a businesswoman, owning a card store in Woodmere for years, before selling it.

“I was young and a woman and it was hard work,” she said.

Sofield, noted that the Angles work year-round on a variety of social issues, including assisting families in financial crises in the Long Beach school district.

As far as the strides women have made, Sofield said, “There’s still issues tied to the labor force.” She said the women she admired included Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State and Madeleine Albright, also a U.S, Secretary of State who served under President Bill Clinton.

“They proved a woman can do anything she wants,” Sofield said.

“We have achieved great things,” Sofield said. “But we need to bring young girls into the picture t show them they can achieve anything they want.”

Alessi, president of the Latino Civic Association, recently persuaded the Long Beach City Council to provide copies of the council’s agenda in Spanish. She worked for private and corporate foundations before, helping decide where they should provide funding for needy organizations.

On average, Alessi said, women make about 82 cents on the dollar. “We have made progress, but we have not caught up,” she said.

The women’s movement, which began to gather steam in the early 1970s, caught on over the decades and was picked up by corporations and political leaders. There are now many women CEOs, members of congress, state legislators, and even military test pilots and members of combat units.