RICHMOND -- Community and business leaders are helping send five women who served as Kaiser shipyard workers during World War II to Washington, D.C., to meet Vice President Joe Biden.

The invitation was extended by Biden in a personal phone call in October after an extended letter-writing campaign of several years by Fairfax resident Phyllis Gould, 92, but it was uncertain whether Gould and four others would be able to make the trip unless sufficient funds were raised.

"Thanks to all the publicity, we had over 100 donors. It was just fantastic," said Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust, the nonprofit organization that coordinated the fundraising.

Gould will be joined on the trip by her sister, Marian Sousa, 87, of El Sobrante; Marian Wynn, 87, of Fairfield; Kay Morrison, 90, of Fairfield; and Priscilla Elder, 93, of Pinole.

The five "Rosies," who were among thousands of women who broke workplace conventions to do their part during the war, and their assistants are set to leave March 29 and stay for a week

Major support came from Virgin Airlines, which donated business class airfare; Kaiser Permanente; Plumbers, Steamfitters & Refrigeration Fitters UA Local Union 393; Trico Pipe; and the Electrical Industry Advancement Program for IBEW 302.

"We definitely raised the full amount to get them there in comfort," Mather-Thrift said. "It's very exciting to see the outpouring of warmth and support they've gotten."


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The total amount raised wasn't immediately available.

The public will be able to meet the women, hear about their experience and hear some of the messages of support that arrived with donations at the annual Rosie the Riveter Trust benefit dinner April 12. The Rosies will be featured guests at the dinner along with Peggy O'Dell, National Park Service deputy director for operations.

For more details about the dinner, visit www.rosietheriveter.org.