She sits at poolside in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Her day has just begun and she is drawn to remember her past. Her long ago past. Cynthia Rivera, the new president of the Carmel Valley Women’s Club, is in Maui, and she is called upon to talk about herself.
Cynthia is Californian, through and through, born in Vallejo, one of seven brothers and sisters, plus a passel of cousins, who altogether constituted “a pretty rowdy bunch.” She was educated in Vallejo and met her first husband, a contractor, by driving a lunch wagon to his construction site. They have two children.
Cynthia migrated to the Monterey Peninsula in 1969, first to Salinas, then to the Monterey area, where she has been living for 43 years. It was on a trip to Saddle Mountain off Schulte Road in Carmel Valley where she spotted and purchased the house of her dreams. “I’ve been in the same house since 1975,” she says.
In the meantime, the U.S. Postal system had caught her attention and captured her talents. She started as a clerk in the Carmel by-the-Sea post office in 1970. When the post office at the mouth of the Valley was built in 1978, she became its supervisor,
then the Superintendent of postal operations for both post offices.
In 1990, it was there on the job that she met Frank Rivera, and they worked together for one year. They were married in 1992. In the meantime, the Felton postal system beckoned Cynthia, and she became its postmistress, commuting two hours a day for
Cynthia waxes eloquent about Frank. “He was born and raised in Montana,” she says. “He played clarinet and guitar and he was offered a scholarship with the Army/Navy Band, but he had stage fright.” She continues, “He was very talented in writing; he wrote newsletters. He wrote beautiful articles, and he’d spend hours doing it just right.”
She and Frank remodeled their home themselves. “We reroofed it, added skylights,
hardwood floors, new kitchen and cabinets, new doors and walls—all of it. We never had any help,” she says. Cynthia lost her wonderful husband and helpmate just recently.
Cynthia has kept herself busy performing many civic chores. She was a part of SCRAMP, working with Gill Campbell, where she was in charge of Human Resources. She retired in 2006. She then joined Kiwanis Club of Monterey and became its President in 2011. She was also a part of the YWCA domestic violence program,
Volunteers in Action, the Monterey County Grand Jury and Leadership Monterey.
But she was looking for something closer to her beloved CarmelValley. Several years ago, she saw an article in the paper about the Carmel Valley Women’s Club and decided to attend a meeting. “It was a luncheon at Rio Grill,” she remembers, “and I met several friends there. In 2015 I decided to join.” She immediately received a call about the fashion show, and at her first meeting, she recalls, she “got roped into it by Connie (Hong-Smith).” She wound up assisting at the fashion show for three years, and spent another two years with the Holiday Extravaganza. “I started going regularly to the board meetings and being a pain in the ass,” she recalls fondly.
“But I love the CVWC,” she says, “it’s a great organization. I love things to be organized. Just start at the top and run to the bottom; send me a report... and don’t expect me to go to all the meetings..” In the meantime, she’s on the deck in Maui overlooking the pool of the Western Kaanapali Hotel, before taking off for a bocce tournament and the Fiesta Italia. All in a vacation’s work.
Rest well, Madam President, there’s a long road ahead.