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About Us


Altrusa International of Santa Maria, Inc. was organized August 1959 and received its charter from Altrusa International on October 25, 1960.  Since its inception the local club has been involved in many City of Santa Maria projects:

1961 Project Senior Citizen, in cooperation with the Santa Maria Recreation Department, the Senior Center (Elwin Mussell Center) was formed.

1962 American Association of Retired Persons was formed in Santa Maria with 42 members.

1963-64 Coordinating Council of Santa Maria Valley was formed with 34 local clubs participating.

1975 Altrusa of Santa Maria donated $6,500 for the purchase of a bus for SMOOTH Transportation, this encouraged the development of the present City bus system, and in 1976 funded the maintenance and operation of the bus.

1979 the final payment was made to the Y.M.C.A.  This was done over a three year period.

1981 Equipped the SMOOTH bus for the handicapped.

1985 purchased three Lifeline Units for Marian Medical Center, and members volunteered to work on the Lifelines.

2006 a major commitment was the donation of $72,500 for the Children’s Theatre in the newly built Santa Maria Library.  As a finish touch a design and execution of the children’s mural at the Library incorporated likenesses of Altrusa children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  To-date over $80,000 has been raised for the Library.

2011/12 Santa Maria Valley Humane Society received $25,000 for the Adoption Office in their new facility.  To-date over $40,000 has been raised for SMVHS.  This July the 4th Annual Hoe Down With the Hounds was held by the Club to benefit SMVHS.

Other involvement in Santa Maria:

Worked with the Salvation Army on many projects, including Christmas Bell ringing and donating over $3,700.

Provided funding for the down payment for three SMILE (Santa Maria Independent Living Environment) homes in Santa Maria.

Stand Down Santa Maria – since it’s inception donated personal hygiene items, socks, hats, gloves, scarves, books, clothing and towels.  Members have worked the event every year.

The club recently celebrated their 27th year of honoring Junior High School students in the Santa Maria Valley with an achievements awards dinner, based on their volunteerism at school, church or in the community.

Many organizations in Santa Maria have benefited with money and time from the Club:

Good Sam Homeless Shelter, Special Olympics, the TC House, Central Coast Spelling Bee, Kiwanis Trivial Pursuit, Visiting Nurses Program, Boy’s and Girl’s Club.

Several members serve on Boards of many Santa Maria organizations, including SMOOTH, Leadership Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Maria Public Library Foundation.

The major emphasis of Altrusa of Santa Maria is literacy, each month members of the Literacy Committee deliver magazines and books to the Vets Clinic, retirement homes, libraries and health care facilities, in addition to snacks at the Vets Clinic. The Club is also involved with the Family Literacy Program in various elementary schools.

Major Donations:  Through its fundraising event, Holiday Extravaganza held in November each year at the Elks Lodge, money was funded through the Altrusa International Santa Maria, Inc. Foundation in the amount of over $670,000.  Since the formation of the Foundation in 1992 the following organizations have received substantial funding:

Boys & Girls Club, CASA, Community Partners in Caring, Friends of the Guadalupe Library, Friends of the Santa Maria Library, Luis OASIS, Natural History Museum, North County Rape Crisis, OCAF, OUSD Children’s Before and After Day Care, Royal Family Kids, Santa Maria Bonita School District, Santa Maria Elks Mini Rodeo, Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, SMILE, SMOOTH, Special Needs Network, Teachers Network of Santa Barbara County Education, YMCA, Guadalupe School District’s Kids Come First Foundation and a recent commitment to the new OASIS facility.

Honorary members of our club are Jenna Yeager (Aviator) and Joni Gray (former Supervisor).  The SMOOTH bus was named for Joni’s mother Norma Gray.

The club has also been involved in combating the sex trafficking of children in Thailand.  Bridges to the Nations is run by Randy and Edie Nelson.  Randy is originally from Santa Maria and now has lived and worked in Thailand for the past 17 years.

June 2015 Altrusa International of Santa Maria, Inc., was a recipient of the inaugural “Spirit of Santa Maria” award from the City of Santa Maria’s All America Committee.


Diane Alleman-Stevens, Altrusa International Foundation Santa Maria, Inc. Treasurer presented Santa Maria Public Library Dawn Jackson, Librarian II a check for $1,500 for the Bookmobile Project.

Altrusa International Foundation Santa Maria, Inc. announces $13,300 awarded Spring Grants to Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum Makerspace Puppet Project; Angel Tree Camp; Santa Maria Public Library Foundation Bookmobile Project; Santa Barbara County Education Teacher Grants; CASA Birthday Gift Cards; Day for Girls International, Santa Barbara Team for a precision fabric die cut system; LoyalTeach tutoring program; Santa Maria Police Explorers for jackets; Santa Barbara Public Defenders Office/Coast Valley SATC; Elks Rodeo Camp Buckaroo. A  special donation of $10,000 was given to OASIS, as part of $25,000 donation for the new Orcutt Area Seniors in Service building, $15,000 was donated in 2018.  The main classroom of the new building will be named for Altrusa International Santa Maria, Inc.

Since its inception in 1992, the Foundation has awarded over $668,359 to literacy, children’s projects, programs for people with disabilities, seniors and other worthy causes.

Pictured left to right: Diane Alleman-Stevens, and Dawn Jackson. 

We believe all women can embrace who they are,
can define their future, and can change the world.

Our Mission

The purpose of Altrusa is to promote better communities through service by an international network of people with diverse backgrounds and experience.

Our Mission

Our History

Altrusa is an international non-profit organization that strives to make our local communities better through leadership, partnership and service.

Altrusa is an international non-profit organization that strives to make our local communities better through leadership, partnership and service.

Altrusa International was founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1917, originally as Altrusa Institute. During that time, a record number of women were going to work during World War I, and there was a need for women’s civic organizations. Dr. Alfred Durham, a member of Kiwanis, began organizing clubs throughout Nashville, TN, Louisville, KY, and Dayton, OH, before he moved on to Indianapolis, IN, where he met Mamie L. Bass. 

Mamie L. Bass had served as the Superintendent of the Women’s Division of the United States Employment Services, and was a partner in her brother’s architecture firm. She also assisted him in organizing a Rotary chapter in Indianapolis. While she admired Dr. Durham’s Institute, Bass felt that Altrusa could serve a higher purpose. In June 1918, when Altrusa held its first convention in Indianapolis, Mamie L. Bass’s vision became reality. The Altrusa Institute became a classified service organization for women. 

Later, the Altrusa Institute was renamed as the National Association of Altrusa Clubs and adopted By-Laws that laid the groundwork for today’s Altrusans. Soon after, Mamie L. Bass created the Principles of Altrusa which defined Altrusa as "a builder of women" and an organization based on merit and accomplishment. The Principles were officially adopted in 1921 along with a major club building effort. By 1922, Altrusa had 20 clubs. 

In 1935, Altrusa became international when the first club in Mexico was organized. Since that first step over US borders in 1935, Altrusa moved into Puerto Rico, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, India, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Ireland, Great Britain, Bermuda, Canada, and New Zealand. In 1946, Altrusa sent its first representative to the United Nations. 

In 1962, Altrusa International established the Altrusa International Foundation, which is dedicated to improving economic well-being and quality of life through a commitment to community services and literacy. In 1966, the organization began to look to America’s youth as the future of Altrusa and established ASTRA service clubs. ASTRA encourages young people, ages 13 to 21, to participate in community service. Expanding on its commitment to youth, Altrusa adopted literacy as on-going area of service in 1977. 

The eighties and nineties brought many exciting changes to Altrusa. With the end of Communism, the former Soviet Union saw its first Altrusa clubs. Increasing its global outlook, Altrusa expanded projects beyond literacy and education by adopting a resolution to promote environmental concerns in 1989. 

The new millennium continues to bring new ideas and opportunities for Altrusa. In 2011, the association launched a new branding and marketing campaign with the purpose of increasing Altrusa’s image in the communities, and reaching out to an evolving membership.

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