Elderly, Fixed-Income Rosie the Riveters Fundraise After Vice President Invite

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014  |  Updated 11:24 AM PDT
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"Rosie the Riveters", from left, Louise Mohr of Silver Spring, Md. Maude Hall, Marian Sousa, both of Richmond, Calif., and Phyllis Gould of Fairfax, Calif., flex the famous "Rosie" pose following a Veterans Day ceremony at the former Ford Assembly Building in Richmond, Calif., Tuesday Nov. 11, 2003. A number of former "Rosies" were honored by Ford on the site of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. During World War II the plant produced some 49,000 jeeps and was a tank depot. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

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Five Rosie the Riveters from the Bay Area are determined to get to the White House. And they’re doing their darndest to get there.

As of this week, sisters Phyllis Gould, 92, of Fairfax, Calif., and Marian Sousa, 87, of El Sobrante, Calif., and three other “Rosies” began in earnest to blitz the public with a plea: The elderly and fixed-income wartime women need money if they are to visit the nation’s capital at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden. The trip is so important, that Gould – who doesn’t own a computer or cell phone – finally broke down and bought an answering machine.

“I’m scared to death of that thing,” she told NBC Bay Area. “But I don’t want to miss any calls.”

MORE: VP Joe Biden Invites Calif. Rosie the Riveter to White House

They’re hoping donors will help send them, a trio of pals, and five escorts to Washington, D.C., for the first week of April. They estimate they'll need at least $20,000; Gould said a plumber's union has already promised them $5,000.

The women - all in their 80s and 90s -  already have a date set with the office of Biden, who first called Gould on Oct. 22 to acknowledge her place in history as one of the first women welders during WWII stationed at the Kaiser shipyard in 1942. He told her she came from a "remarkable, remarkable generation of women." And in classic Biden fashion, the vice president told Gould: "That's pretty impressive, kid."

Then, he invited her to visit him.

Gould and her friends just don’t have the money to pay for the trip, which includes airfare, hotel stays and a bit of spending money for getting around the Capitol. They decided to fundraise through the trust that supports the Rosie the Riveter/ WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif., where most of them still work every week.

"The Rosies are the core of the history for our park," Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director for the
Rosie the Riveter Trust told NBC Bay Area. "The idea is that we'd love to have them meet Joe Biden."

Aside from the sisters, the other three Rosie the Riveters invited on the trip Marian Wynn, 87, and Kay Morrison, 90, both of Fairfield, Calif.; and Priscilla Elder, 93, of Pinole, Calif. Each would like to bring one guest, as they are getting on in their years and would appreciate some help.

Gould said she talks to Biden’s office about once a week regarding the trip and she’s crossing her fingers that the donations will start pouring in before spring.

TO DONATE:  Checks should be made out to the Rosie the Riveter Trust and marked as "Rosie's Fund."  Mail them to Rosie the Riveter Trust at PO Box 71126, Richmond, CA 94807-1126. 
Or donors can go online and mark "Rosie's Fund" in the "In Honor Of" field. Any donations that exceed the amount the Rosies need, will be used  to support the trust's public education programs that amplify the park's history and tell stories of workers who broke barriers in order to inspire others.
 

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