Inna Beardsley: Leading the Atherton Dames, planning the annual holiday children’s tea

by Linda Hubbard on November 9, 2011

When we met Inna Beardsley, current president of the Atherton Dames, at Holbrook Palmer Park, we quickly learned that it’s “dames”, as in rhymes with names, and you don’t have to reside in Atherton to become one.

“That’s one of the big misconceptions,” she said, referring to place of residence. “Our membership is open to women interested in supporting Holbrook Palmer Park. And all of our events are open to everyone as well. We really want to make that clear.”

We’d sat down to talk to Inna in advance of the Dames popular Children’s Holiday Tea, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 11, which sells out well in advance each year. The Tea includes photo sessions with Santa and a puppet show. Reservations can be made by emailing Tickets are $45 for one child accompanied by an adult; additional children or adults are $20. Tables of 10 are available for $200.

“Our mission is to raise funds for Holbrook Palmer Park, which we do through our events,” she explained. “We serve as an auxiliary to the Park’s Foundation.”

Inna, who does happen to live in Atherton, immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1991. She was drawn to the Dames when she moved to the mid-Peninsula. “I was new to the area and wanted a way to meet friends and contribute to the community” she said.

The Dames are currently working on remodeling the historic Carriage House in the Park. “It’s going to take a while and more than one fundraiser to get the job done,” she said. “We want to renovate the second floor space and make the whole structure safe and ADA compliant. It’s a combination of preservation and making it more useful, upstairs and downstairs.

“To ask people to donate, to have them support our events, you have to show results — where the money goes,” she said. “With projects like the Carriage House renovation, we hope to demonstrate our diligence and care for the community.”

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