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Soroptimist International of Lodi presents awards

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Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 1:00 pm

Soroptimist International of Lodi and Lodi Sunrise recently held an awards night honoring outstanding women and girls. Soroptimist International is a volunteer organization of professional and business women who contribute their time and financial support to community projects benefitting women and girls. SI Lodi recently celebrated 68 years in Lodi.

The Women’s Opportunity Award, the major service project for Soroptimist, is presented to women who have primary financial responsibility for themselves and their families and are enrolled in a vocational/skills training program or undergraduate degree program. This year, recipient Maylene Kisch Adam was presented the award of $1,000 by Barbara Warburton.

Adam is a single parent, balancing school with the raising of her five children. She has eight children in all, including two with special needs. She was divorced after 25 years of marriage and decided to make a change for the better in 2011 when she started online classes. She has continued her education through Consumnes River College, pursuing a career in Franchise Management. Financial restraints have been her biggest challenge in this endeavor. She has been pursuing grants and any other means to complete her goal. She is trying to be an example to her children and pursue a dream that began when she was 18 years old. Her application indicates that she is a person who sets her sights on a goal and does everything to make it to the end.

The Ruby Award for Women Helping Women is meant to recognize women who do outstanding work either in their professional life or in volunteer service to improve the lives of other women and girls. This year the recipient is Annette Murdaca. A donation of $250 was made to the Vaccarezza Murdaca Family Foundation. In addition to the local award, Murdaca also received the regional award of $500 from the Sierra Pacific Region at the annual conference on April 27 in Modesto. Murdaca was introduced by Suzanne Mangum, executive director of Lodi House, and presented the award by Bev Lacy.

Murdaca was the driving force behind the establishment of “Lodi House”. In 1997, on a field trip with her daughter, she visited the Archway Homeless Shelter and could see there was no accommodation for women and children at the facility or in the city of Lodi. In 2000, through the efforts of the entire community, Lodi House was founded. Lodi House is a non-profit agency established to provide shelter and emotional and vocational support for homeless women and children.

Three years after the opening of Lodi House, Annette was able to convince the Salvation Army Hope Harbor facility to add an emergency 24-hour shelter for women who needed emergency help. While serving on the Lodi Salvation Army’s advisory board, she was co-chair of the group’s capital campaign for a new homeless shelter. She was driven to raise the final $290,000 for the Salvation Army’s new shelter. Her goal was achieved in 2003, with the opening of Hope Harbor for women and children. In 2012, they were able to add the final addition to the family shelter.

Murdaca has given her time to many other community efforts as well. She and her husband, Jim, created the Vaccarezza Murdaca Family Foundation. Their major fundraiser is “Festa Della Donna,” which was held May 15.

The Violet Richardson Award, named for the president of the first Soroptimist club, recognizes young women between the ages of 14 and 17, who make the community and world a better place through volunteer efforts. This year’s recipient Hanna Stoltman was awarded $500.

Stoltman is a sophomore at Lodi High School and has been involved in Girl Scouts for 10 years. The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Stoltman demonstrates this mission through her many endeavors, one of which was the Halloween Party for Hope Harbor children. Karen West, director of Hope Harbor Shelter, presented the award.

Stoltman’s project was raising awareness about the needs of homeless children having costumes for Halloween. She worked with a Girl Scout partner and collected gently used costumes from other Girl Scout families and neighbors. She also got donations from the community to purchase additional costumes and accessories at local thrift shops. Stoltman held two workshops and invited volunteers to organize and clean costumes, make cards, and sew trick or treat bags, which were filled with candy, treats and some toiletries. These were distributed during a Halloween Party at Hope Harbor. To sustain this effort, over 100 costumes for the 2013 Halloween have been collected to ensure its continuance.

— Source: Bev Lacy

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