Women on stage for Loomis Soroptimist Education Awards

Supporting the empowerment of women

Loomis, Calif. – On February 21, Soroptimist International (SI) Loomis Basin gave out $13,000 in education awards so that women and girls would have the resources to live their dreams.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

Soroptimist International Live Your Dream

“Soroptimist International Live Your Dream” awards help women who are overcoming obstacles to continue their education and build careers that will support their families. Rocklin resident and mother of four, LeDena Presley, received a Live Your Dream award to continue studying business administration at Sierra College. “This education will help a person like me with disabilities navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of running my catering service more effectively and efficiently,” said Presley.

Award winners
(LtoR) Del Oro High School students Ava Felahy, Calie Anton, Ramira Mittaland and Carson Zerwas, and Confluence High School West students Azy Curley and Charlie Farquhar received awards to further their education from the Soroptimist International Loomis Basin

Loomis Soroptimist Investing in Dreams

Four Del Oro High School students, who are leaders in community service, received “Loomis Soroptimist Investing in Dreams” awards.

Calie Anton is leading the tech team at her church, running the sound booth, mixing music and training other youth volunteers. “I took the girls who volunteered under my wing as we de-stigmatized the world of ‘tech-guys,'” said Anton. Her goal is to travel the world and save lives working as a nurse.

Ava Felahy formed the “Standout Sisters’ club to support girls, ages 7-10, who have disabled siblings. They do fun activities and have time to share experiences with other girls. “I hope these girls continue to ‘standout’ and feel heard, noticed and respected whatever their situation might be,” said Felahy. She plans to become a speech pathologist.

Ramira Mittal tutored non-native English speakers with the non-profit, Leaders United for Change. When she saw that girls were hesitant to take advantage of the free tutoring, she became an advocate, spreading the word and recruiting other girls to be tutors. She plans to study a law-based major at college.

Carson Zerwas organized a one-week camp for four summers with the goal of giving busy mothers a break. She promoted the camp, planned activities and recruited counselors. Mothers got “time to take care of themselves” and kids benefited from “activities that were enriching,” according to Zerwas. She plans to study anthropology or sociology at university.

Loomis Soroptimist Dream It, Be It Award

The “Loomis Soroptimist Dream It, Be It Award” (DIBI) recognized two of the students who participated in the career exploration program delivered by the club at Confluence High School West. Azelyn Curley indicated that one of her favorite activities was putting together a vision board. She plans to attend Sierra College, transfer to university and earn a Master’s degree in psychology, specializing in art therapy.

Charlie Farquhar said that through the DIBI program she learned that “women can be successful in every career” and that “there’s always a way to reach any goal.” Farquhar plans on entering the Sierra College Medical Assistant program, obtaining her degree as a registered nurse and working in a neonatal ICU.

Soroptimist Ruby Award for Women Helping Women

Camilla Ryland received the Soroptimist Ruby Award for Women Helping Women for 36 years of advocacy for Koinonia foster youth. She also wrote grants to introduce girls to high paying non-traditional careers and worked with them individually to develop their confidence and skills. The Loomis Soroptimist club made a donation to Koinonia in Ryland’s honor.

Education Grant

The Loomis Soroptimist club presented Senior L.I.F.E. Center of Loomis Board Member Eileen Elder with an Education Grant to fund art, music and exercise teachers. Since 1978, when the Soroptimist club founded the senior center, members have supported the center’s social and educational activities.

15 Loomis Soroptimist Teacher Grants

The club also presented 15 Loomis Soroptimist Teacher Grants to fund special projects that will have lasting impact on students in the Loomis Union School District.

At H. Clarke Powers Elementary School, sixth grade teacher Jennifer Bramer will use the grant to purchase several used college preparatory mathematics textbooks that students can borrow to do their homework. Hailey Crosta, transitional kindergarten (TK) teacher, will set up a science center in her room where students can practice observing life science, earth science and basic chemistry. Angela Millard, 7-8 grade teacher, intends to purchase 30 copies of a book, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, that meets common core standards for 8th graders. Patty Sleizer, kindergarten teacher, wants to add a balance beam, stepping stones and lily pads to the playground to promote balance, coordination and agility.

At Loomis Basin Charter School, Christine Clark, K-8 teacher, will purchase the books for 3rd-5th graders to participate in the third year of the nationwide “Battle of the Books.” Nicole Fletcher, 7th/8th grade teacher, is building a classroom library of books that connect to the historical material taught in class so students develop a deeper understanding of concepts. To enable students to access interactive lessons in Language Arts, 7th/8th grade teacher Melissa Patrick plans to purchase high quality headphones. Kristin Rock, 6th grade teacher, is building a makerspace for middle school students and will purchase materials to increase understanding of coding, circuits and engineering.

At Penryn Elementary School, first grade teacher, Shari Brown, will enrich her classroom library with colorful, interesting books that match students’ reading levels. Mateo Dillaway, 6-8 grade teacher, will purchase materials for the music library and instructional materials that will benefit 6th graders from throughout the district. Alyssa Nottingham accepted a grant for the transitional kindergarten to fund upper case sensory letters that enhance student learning by engaging multiple senses. Samantha Randall, 2nd grade teacher, will replace and add books to her classroom library, especially new series that students have requested. Kindergarten teacher Jessica Ryder wants to create a dramatic play area with crates, play food and costumes that can be changed each month to encourage creativity, learning and social skills.

At Placer Elementary School, Elisa Bryant, TK teacher, wants to enhance outdoor play with versatile ramps that children can use to explore the flow of water, balls, gravel and other materials to learn about force and gravity in their environment. Amanda Ross, kindergarten teacher, will replace her magnetic whiteboard that is used to display sentences, learn sight words and do mathematics.

The event was attended by more than 80 community members and held at Blue Goose Event Center with support from the South Placer Heritage Foundation. In addition to the grants, awardees were acknowledged by Soroptimist International Sierra Nevada Region Governor Lisa Fitzgerald. They also received congratulations and certificates of recognition from Kevin Kiley, U. S. Representative and Megan Schultze, Field Representative for Assemblyman Joe Patterson.

Soroptimist International Loomis Basin fundraises throughout the year to support the awards program and other education projects that lead to women’s economic empowerment. The next fundraiser is Fiesta Bingo on May 4 at the Blue Goose. To learn more, go to Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin, a 501(c)(3) organization.

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