LAID-OFF LAMORINDAN JOINS OTHER "STARS" LOOKING FOR WORK: On Sept. 13, Jennifer Flowers was happily working at her office on Manhattan's Wall Street, beginning her third year as director of volunteer services at the Council on Accreditation, which evaluates and certifies international social services and adoption agencies.

At about 9:30 a.m. the next day, 41-year-old Jennifer — class of '86 at Miramonte High, UC Berkeley, an MBA from Arizona's Thunderbird Graduate Business School, then the Peace Corps in Costa Rica — was "surprised but I had to laugh" to find she was among 12 employees laid off. Jennifer describes all of them as "stars" in their fields of expertise.

"Then I remembered that President Obama was about to speak to banker barons assembled at Federal Hall, a few blocks away from my office," Jennifer continued. So she dashed into a drugstore on her way, bought a poster board and two markers and made her sign: "Laid-off today, 9:30 a.m. Hire Me (MBA)." She then climbed some steps behind the Hall's front entrance, where a crowd was growing. Obama, speaking inside the Hall, didn't get to see it, but the media did, and next morning there it was, the sign and Jennifer prominently displayed in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

I called her dad, Fred Flowers, an official arbiter whom has finished 30 marathons (he ran the New York Marathon with daughter Jennifer in 2002). He hadn't seen it yet, but his phone was ringing off the hook, because both of them are well known in Lamorinda for their running exploits.

On Tuesday, I saw a video interview with Jennifer and her huge chocolate schnauzer on CNBC's program "Faces of the Recession: Boom, Bust & Blame."

"There are so many highly trained people job-searching it seems like now is the time to find the job you trained for so long, and really want, so as to make a difference," Jennifer said she and her colleagues feel now.

Right after being laid off, "I turned to a former colleague whom I knew firsthand to be an expert, and we started discussing how we could help others while benefiting from their skills and experience," Jennifer said. "I'm preparing a Web site as well as opening an account with Twitter."

In the meantime, Jennifer is busy with informational interviews and attending workshops in her field; Monday and Tuesday she spent at the World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall, and when I talked with her Tuesday afternoon she had two of the winning networking sessions planned for Wednesday and Thursday nights. See this attractive, accomplished lady yourself on CNBC's Web site: www.cnbc.com/id/33071877

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    PLAY FOR THE SYMPHONY: We all look forward to the Contra Costa League's 10th annual luncheon to benefit the San Francisco Symphony (acclaimed one of the five best orchestras in the world), starting at 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 26 at Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville.

    Some raffle items to be won if you're lucky include a Photo Safari week in South Africa's Zululand, a summer retreat at Donner Lake, golfing and lunch at two country clubs or sailing on the bay. You'll enjoy lunch, then bridge (or other games of your choice) during the afternoon. Music, too. To reserve, call Lafayette's Barbara Broach at 925-934-6725 or Moraga's Margaret Stithem at 925-337-6229. Join us for a delightful afternoon.

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    FESTIVAL OF TREES UPCOMING: Right now's the time to reserve your space for the Orinda Woman's Club fabulous fashion show and luncheon at Blackhawk Museum, the big benefit on Tuesday, Nov. 17 that traditionally heralds the holiday season. Starting at 10:30 a.m., with bids on creatively decorated table trees and baskets (the baskets make great gifts), plus a two-night getaway including breakfast at the Madrone Manor Wine Country Inn in Healdsburg, a $200 gift certificate and more temptations. There is no other style show like Helen Lyall's specially collected fashions from top New York and European markets — some are likely to go home with you that day. Call Mary Jane Duthie at 925-254-5953 pronto. You'll see everyone you know, and then some. Proceeds go to youth and women in need: 2009 beneficiaries are CASA, the Contra Costa County Appointed Special Advocates for Children, the California Youth Connection and scholarships for women in need, help to improve their lives.

    I am grateful for having witnessed the crucial change this help has made in the lives of struggling young women, some of them already moms.

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    THE RENDER FENDER BENDER: Moraga Rotarian Rich Render wondered if he had a double when he read Sunbeams on Sept. 25, about the happy wedding celebration of Lamorinda's beloved vet Gerry Dzendzel, when Gerry's boyhood chum Mike Fender, his best man and leader of that crackin' good band that played for Gerry and bride Jennifer's recent reception party. Mike Fender and his musicians (from one to 20) are available for Fender's corporate and special-event gigs. Contact him at www.michaelfender.com or call his cell at 925-788-0648, or office at 925-254-2640; or e-mail entertainment@michaelfender.com.

    Motown, jazz or rock. Rich Render plays the piano only, and I'm not sure if he takes requests. Sorry about the confusion, slender tender gentlemen.

    Reach Sun columnists Harriet Ainsworth at 925-254-6320.