The Pan American Round Table of Los Gatos-Saratoga was founded in 1958 by four local ladies who were led by Frances Beilharz. They were inspired by friends of the existing San Jose PART and through them, they learned about the work of other Tables in the Americas.
Frances lived in Los Gatos with her husband, a historian and Santa Clara University professor.
It was founded by Frances Beilharz, Mary Eastman, Cay de Amicis, Margarita Hyde and Ruby Thomas, and supported by many other dedicated members.
In 1960, during the eighth international Convention held in Guatemala, our Table was chartered by the Alliance of Pan American Round Tables, the executive body which coordinates activities of all Tables in the American Continent. Since then, we have been a very active group of women within the Alliance family, participating in many Alliance Conventions.
During the sixties and seventies, our members were very much involved in educational and community multicultural activities. Some of our members visited public schools and presented conferences about culture, traditions, and history of other countries in the western hemisphere. We sponsored contests and gave prizes to students who wrote best essays related to Pan American topics.
As time went by, we concentrated on raising monies for a scholarship fund and started offering scholarships to high school graduates who intended to pursue a College education. We also provided students with dictionaries, to facilitate learning of the Spanish language and encourage understanding of the people in our neighboring countries.
Within the last 15 years, we have been offering scholarships to young women who are finishing their studies at Evergreen and West Valley 2-year Colleges and need financial help to transfer to 4-year Universities, in order to obtain their degrees. Most of our scholarship recipients transfer to San Jose State University. Since 1999, we have awarded the amount of $58,000 in scholarships, thanks to our joint volunteer efforts in organizing fundraisers and receiving contributions from kind donors.
We have come a long way in 55 years and we are hoping to continue growing and giving what we can to young people in our community. Resources from Silicon Valley surround us but it is amazing to realize that not all youngsters can enjoy the fruits of technology.