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.
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, the two women who earned this award of $1,000 were Lilia Campos and Dametris Vinegar.
Lilia Campos is attending Kaplan College, where she is enrolled in the licensed vocational nursing program. She began working immediately after high school as a medical assistant on the night shift at an urgent care clinic, so that she could care for her three young children. She wants to be a role model for her children and says only a higher education can ensure her children’s future.
Dametris Vinegar was devastated when she was left alone, without even a high school education, to raise four young children. Temporary employment kept her from having to obtain public assistance, but made her realize that she would need an education to better herself and support her family. She is currently enrolled in the administrative assistant course at the Stockton School for Adults. Her goal is to earn a high school diploma and continue her education with college courses and ultimately obtain a position in the administrative medical field.
The Ruby Award acknowledges women who are working to improve the lives of women and girls through their personal or professional activities. Soroptimist of Lodi presented the award to Capt. Kim Williams, with the Salvation Army. She is responsible for women’s ministries, youth ministries and all the seasonal activities such as camp, vacation Bible school and women’s Bible studies. She is specially trained as a child safety consultant and is involved in training and program assessments in the prevention of child abuse for at-risk children. For the past two years, Kim has been instrumental in organizing a community education workshop to stop human trafficking.
Dr. Grace Tay was Soroptimist of Lodi Sunrise’s award recipient. Tay was born in the Philippines and grew up hearing stories about her grandfather, who, during World War II, cared for the sick and wounded. She decided she wanted to do the same thing. She is currently a general surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Stockton and devotes much of her time to breast cancer patients. Her goal is to provide the kind of treatment and care that she would want for herself and her family and to inform and educate patients to make wise decisions that best suit them.
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 recipients were Deyanira Nava, Vicki Thao, Brittany Cunningham and Anna Price.
Deyanira Nava began volunteering at age 12 at the Lodi Adopt-A-Child. She soon realized that there are many needy children and that her contribution not only helps them, but the community as well. She helps with the school shopping spree, assembles Thanksgiving packages, buys and wraps Christmas gifts and assists with the Christmas party for the children.
Vicki Thao has volunteered for several community events. English is not her native language and she has had to overcome difficulties through her spirit and hard work. She volunteered twice at community health screenings, taking vital signs and helping attendees fill out paperwork as well as providing translating services. She worked at Special Olympics events and is a timekeeper at wrestling tournaments for McNair High School.
Brittany Cunningham has made several trips to Mexico as part of Calvary Bible Church’s mission group. She helps with the planning and training for the trips, has helped with the vision mission distributing eyeglasses, helped fill in a hole for a water tank and plays with the children at an orphanage to help socialize them. The language barrier and the fact that some of the children are deaf does not dampen Brittany’s volunteer efforts.
Anna Price started and organized a Relay for Life team, the “Tiger Walkers,” at Tokay High School, which raised over $1,000 to help the American Cancer Society.
Soroptimist of Lodi also made a donation of $1,500 to the Mary Graham Foundation to assist Cecilia Jauriqui in continuing her education. Jauriqui endured years of abuse from an alcoholic mother before going to the shelter and being placed in foster care. The Foundation made a life-changing difference in her life, helping her to successfully transition out of care and into life on her own. She is now the mother of two children and is improving herself by pursuing an education.