Each year, the Pat Gustke Sustainer of the Year award is awarded to League Sustainers whose strength and character embody the League’s slogan, “Women building better communities.” Winners display a sustained commitment to their volunteer work and serve as inspirational role models for all members of the Junior League and our community.
The 2023 Pat Gustke Sustainer of the Year Award Winners
Kristie Driscoll joined the Junior League of San Jose in 1992 and served until her sudden passing in August of 2022. For those of us who knew Kristie, her JLSJ years, whether as an Active or Sustainer, were always filled with passion, energy, and a creative spirit. She was a daughter, a wife, aunt, grandmother, friend, and a mother to her pride and joys- her three daughters.Kristie was a champion at supporting Junior League during her time as an Active Member and as a Sustainer, working tirelessly for the many committees and roles where she was placed. She served JLSJ in numerous capacities and leadership roles which included support of The Georgia Travis Center, the JLSJ 50th Anniversary event, chair of several Sustainer holiday events, and passionate volunteer for the inaugural Derby Event in 2018. Kristie also served in senior leadership roles with placements on the JLSJ BOD from 1999-2001 and continued as a Sustaining Advisor to the BOD in 2004 – 2005. However, she was best known for her involvement in modeling, whether it was through the Junior League of San Jose or other organizations and schools including Bellarmine College Prep, Sacred Heart, SaintAndrews, Saint Mary’s School, or the Harker School. She loved to model and help guide others who were involved with the preparations needed for the countless fashion shows she was involved with. This led to several leadership roles within the world of modeling which included co-chair of the 2002 Junior League Fashion Show and in 2016, she co-chaired women’s modeling and assisted in the production for the League’s final fashion show. Like many Junior League Members, Kristie utilized skills obtained through a variety of roles and development opportunities including attendance at the Organizational Development Institute conference (ODI). The training, confidence, and tools she gained through the Junior League propelled Kristie within the League and outside of the League. She was a volunteer with the O’Connor Hospital Guild when her daughters were born, then quickly turned her attention to the San Jose Ballet and the Los Gatos Ballet Guild, where she volunteered for almost 30 years. Kristie’s daughters were the light of her life and she worked tirelessly and passionately at fundraising events for their schools, St. Mary’s School in Los Gatos, and St. Francis High School in Mountain View. Outside of school, Kristie’s daughters participated in the National Charity League (NCL), an organization that brings mothers and daughters together for community service, leadership development, cultural experiences, and to help mentor young women. Kristie chaired many NCL Heritage Oaks events without hesitation, making her mark in leadership roles or through hosting community outreach efforts.In 2019, Kristie accepted the invitation to become a member of Summit League. Summit League is a women’s organization committed to fostering member education, enrichment, and as a group, financially supporting community needs in the areas of education, health, welfare and the arts in Santa Clara Valley. With the same enthusiasm and dedication Kristie had demonstrated in the Junior League and in other parts of the community, Kristie directed that energy in support of Summit League. Despite only being a member for four years, Kristie twice served on the Summit League Board of Directors as Recording Secretary and Corresponding Secretary. Kristie’s energy at meetings was infectious. Her sincerity and graciousness quickly made her a cherished member. Whatever Kristie undertook in Summit League, she did with creativity, and with the leadership skills she had learned in the Junior League. Kristie’s passion for life was infectious for all those that knew her. She brought people together through her leadership and mentorship to others. She exuded compassion, kindness, and always gave 100%. As a role model within the community, she had vivacious energy and brought life to any event she touched. Kristie will be missed but the impact of her work at JLSJ and in the community leaves behind a legacy, one that will last forever.
Maureen Deal is truly a Sustainer who embodies the League’s slogan Women Building Better Communities. One of the highlights of her Active League life was co-chairing the project Next Door for two years when the work of the committee was recognized with an award from AJLI. She served in a number of capacities as a Sustainer all the while working full-time. Shortly after retiring, she and her husband moved to Lincoln, California, where she continues to make a difference.
Maureen’s background is in special education which as noted by Joanne Johnson Felt, “has made her acutely aware and empathetic with youth who may not fit the cookie cutter mold and often feel left out or excluded in the traditional classroom.” When Maureen arrived in her new town over ten years ago, she approached the principal at Phoenix High School, the local continuation school to inquire if volunteer opportunities were available. She began as a math tutor, but as a trained Junior League volunteer, she soon began a tutoring program, recruiting new volunteers and organizing their schedules to ensure maximum support for the students. She reached out to the local community and began to mentor other retirees so the Phoenix teachers in a variety of subjects would have specialized tutoring available. The teachers and counselors have seen the difference one person can make when they spend time each week with one student and many of these students have specifically noted their sense of accomplishment from their time with a tutor.
Maureen noticed something else as she worked with students and fellow tutors at Phoenix.
Many students come from disadvantaged living situations which often impact their ability to learn. Displaying her enthusiastic spirit she became one of the founders of The Phoenix Angels which raises funds for supplies at the school. Through their efforts, the school was able to expand its arts program which is a source of inspiration and motivation for the students. Maureen has now helped build the program to provide gift cards for needed groceries, gas, general living expenses, and clothing. During the Christmas Holidays, she leads a team that purchases and wraps gifts for families who have been identified by the school as needing a little extra help. In addition, she implemented a scholarship from The Angels for graduating students.
A high school senior, who faced many challenges throughout his life with two parents addicted to drugs, wrote a note to The Phoenix Angels expressing his gratitude for the school, staff, students, and especially The Phoenix Angels. They were “the biggest uplift for me” and they “have helped me and shown me that there are actually good people in the world.” The Principal recognizes Maureen and writes her “dedication, compassion, and leadership have been an inspiration to everyone at Phoenix High School.”
In addition, Maureen volunteers weekly at Petal Connection in Roseville, California, where she creates colorful bedside bouquets for hospice patients and seniors in the community. These bouquets let seniors know they are not forgotten and they matter.
Thank you to the Members of the 2023 Pat Gustke Sustainer of the Year Committee: Ann-Marie Meacham (Chair), Brenda Chastaine, Robyn Klitgaard, Rachel Lehto, and Julie Paulsen