Soroptimist International of Lodi and Lodi Sunrise recently had their awards night at the Temple Baptist Church. Awards were presented to outstanding women and girls.
Soroptimist International is an international volunteer organization of professional and business women who volunteer their time toward community projects benefiting women.Soroptimist's mission is to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and around the world. Soroptimist of Lodi was chartered in 1945. Lodi Sunrise was chartered in 1989. Almost 100,000 Soroptimists in more than 120 countries and territories contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls.
The Women's Opportunity Award is the major service project for Soroptimist International of the Americas. The program name reflects the nature of the program: giving women the "opportunity" to enter or re-enter the workforce with the education and skills necessary to attain a higher level of employment. Eligible women are the primary income earner for their families, are attending or have been accepted into a vocational/skills training program or undergraduate degree program to upgrade their employment status. The award money can be used to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or additional skills and training.
This year SI Lodi and SI Lodi-Sunrise awarded $1,000 to those applicants best meeting the requirements of the award. Suzanne Nickerson received the award from SI Lodi-Sunrise. Nickerson's husband died from brain cancer last summer, just 16 months after he was diagnosed. His illness and passing was devastating for her, financially as well as emotionally. She has a two-year-old son, the light of her life, whom she needs to provide for. She has returned to school to study to be a nurse.
SI Lodi presented its award to Regina Beck. She is a recently divorced, single parent with four children and two grandchildren. Beck was in an abusive marriage and was also taking care of her ailing mother, who passed away last year. She is attending Heald College and will be pursuing a career in medical billing and coding. She has worked hard to be a positive role model for her children and encourages her two sons who are still at home to try to get better grades in school than she does.
The Making a Difference for Women Award acknowledges women who are working to improve the lives of women and girls through their personal or professional activities. Their efforts help to promote the issues that are important to the Soroptimist organization. Honorees are women who have worked in extraordinary ways to benefit women and girls.
Soroptimist International of Lodi selected Theresa Larson as its recipient. Larson tells the inspirational story of her courageous battle against breast cancer in her book entitled, "My Fight for Life." The book helps women to realize that they are not alone and helps them understand the feelings they are experiencing. It inspires women to face the challenges of breast cancer with courage and strength.
Paula Meadows was the recipient of this award from SI Lodi Sunrise. Meadows has established Meadows Depot, a half-way house for women and children. She and her late husband, Ken, cared for over 300 foster children for over 30 years.The goal of the foster care system is to return the children to their parents whenever possible.
The Meadows noticed that most of those children's parents were addicted to drugs or incarcerated for drug-related crimes. In 1989, the Meadows decided to help the mothers of those children by providing them a safe drug-free, supportive home.
The halfway house that they created is named Meadows Depot. Meadows Depot does not receive state or federal money to help maintain their houses or programs and operates solely on the generosity of concerned citizens. Meadows Depot requires that the mothers be in a support program and learn skills that will allow them to be functioning members of society when they move on.
The Violet Richardson Award recognizes a young woman between the ages of 14 to 17 who does outstanding volunteer work in her community. These young women each receive an award of $500 plus $100 donation to their charity of choice. These young women are dedicated to making the world a better place to live, as evidenced by the time and quality of effort dedicated to their volunteer work. Soroptimist International of Lodi has selected Ashley Bedi for her outstanding efforts in volunteer work in the Students in Prevention program at Tokay High. Lodi Sunrise chose Shaynna Hockett for her involvement with church activities including outreach in Mexico and a camp for special needs children in Missouri.
The Mary Ellen George Award has been established by Soroptimist International, Sierra Pacific Region as an ongoing award in recognition of "S" club members. Mary Ellen George was the primary benefactor who made possible the MEG award, and a long time Soroptimist. Ester Aguilar, of Lodi High School, received the MEG award of $2,000. This award is for high school seniors who have been members of the "S" Club. Aguilar has attended the "S" club conference for the past three years. She was chosen by the committee for her enthusiasm and dedication in the pursuit of higher education.
SI Lodi scholarships of $500 each were awarded to Carolina Barreto of Tokay High and Maria Yepez of Lodi High. Both girls have good academic standing, and high aspirations. Their letters of recommendation were compelling and their personal statements showed determination. SI Lodi is proud to be able to offer support to two young ladies as they start out for college. Barreto plans to study at UOP and work toward becoming a kindergarten teacher. She wants to work with children who are learning English as a second language, and to travel to Africa and work with small children there. Yepez's plans include attending UC Riverside to major in chemistry, and going to medical school to become an anesthesiologist.