Year in Review

Luncheon Programs

Betty Packard Voris, Vice President

Mayor London Breed brought her warmth and charm as guest speaker to the San Francisco Garden Club on October 15, 2019. A cheerleader for San Francisco and its citizens, members and guests were treated to a spirited and lively discussion from a native-born San Franciscan. Mayor Breed was raised by her grandmother in the Western Addition projects, graduated with honors from Galileo High School, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science/Public Service from  the University of California, Davis and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. Mayor Breed gave a spirited message regarding her plans for the city. She discussed some of its problems while informing her audience of happenings and hopes. After taking questions, she visited with members and listened to personal concerns as well as appreciations.

In the history of San Francisco, only two women have become Mayor. Ironically, both followed the death of the sitting Mayor. Dianne Feinstein became Mayor when Harvey Milk was murdered and London Breed, then President of the Board of Supervisors, was selected by her colleagues as Mayor upon the sudden death of Ed Lee on December 12, 2017. London Breed was running for a full term of office when she spoke to the club in October. In November she was elected to a full-term.


SNEAK PREVIEW: BE AMONG THE FIRST TO KNOW THE GRAND YEAR-LONG CELEBRATION OF GOLDEN GATE PARK: The year 2020 marks the 150 year anniversary of Golden Gate Park. For years a project team from SF Parks and Recreation has been planning the celebration of everybody’s park ! San Franciscans will be invited to participate in a myriad of exciting and fascinating festivities during this year-long celebration and the Garden Club has the first look – a sneak peek!

Our November 19 meeting featured Lillian Archer of San Francisco Parks Alliance and Joel Riddel of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department who previewed details of this historic Anniversary. The year-long celebration kicks off April 4, 2020, with a fun-filled community day. Lillian and Joel also shared other event updates as well as historic moments that you probably have never heard. Lillian Archer is Project Manager, Golden Gate Park 150, and Joel Riddel is Assistant Manager. Their video and slide presentation created genuine interest in the myriad of events available throughout the year. Unfortunately for everyone, the opening day and many of its subsequent events were canceled due to the Coronavirus Shelter-In-Place. 

December and the holidays brought back the exotic florals and designs of CCSF’s botany and horticultural students, with our guest member Steven Brown as moderator. This December 17 luncheon also allowed members to bid on and take home magnificent décor for their holiday festivities. Anyone who has been a part of Steven’s luncheon programs can attest that this is one not to be missed and members came out in anticipation of seeing and taking home some beautiful arrangements.

Each year the SFGC highlights the service of past presidents at its festive February meeting. Because Ikebana presentations have been described as spiritual, stylistic and eerily beautiful, this program was a perfect complement. Thanh Nguyen, an international master of Ikebana, combines her passion of Ikebana with education. Thus, Thanh was especially honored to be asked to present at our February 18 luncheon, which continues the club’s annual commitment to its Alice Eastwood Scholarship Program.

Thanh produced 10 exquisite presentations in one hour, all while demonstrating nuances and ideas that made each magnificent centerpiece special. She amazed her audience with her considerable talent and creativity as she deftly wound wood and flowers and greens together. Thanh then donated them for auction and expressly designated the monies for the Alice Eastwood Scholarship Program.

Thanh, serving a second term as president of Ikebana International San Francisco Chapter, is known not only throughout the Bay Area but internationally as well. In recent years she has exhibited in Paris, Vietnam, Manila and Japan, as well as throughout the United States. Her designs have been exhibited worldwide in museums and major flower shows.

Born in Vietnam to a family of artists, Thanh was introduced to Ikebana at an early age but did not begin formal studies in the United States until 30 years ago. She holds the Gakkukan Degree in “Wafu School of Ikebana and Somu Degree in Sogetsu School of Ikebana.” After receiving teaching diplomas and advanced degrees from both schools, she has continued exploring both styles of Ikebana. In 2014 Thanh spent the summer in Tokyo studying at the prestigious Mami Flower Design School. 

March 17 was scheduled to give a behind-the-scenes look at McCalls Catering with its retired manager, Mercedes Pilgrim. Imagine what it must be like to have a job where every day you must do that for sometimes hundreds- even thousands – of people attending your event. Hoping to bring a new perspective to our own luncheon affairs, Meredith was going to give ideas on how to present a themed luncheon or dinner with food, decor, flowers, etc. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus necessitated its postponement as well as the rest of the year’s meetings, programs and events.


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