Loomis Soroptimist Awards
Students, teachers and community leaders received awards from Soroptimist International Loomis Basin to provide women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

Access to the education & training to achieve economic empowerment

Loomis, Calif. – Soroptimist International (SI) Loomis Basin distributed nearly $10,000 in education awards on February 15 so that women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and 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.

Three women received “SI Live Your Dream” awards that help women overcoming obstacles such as abuse, addiction and financial hardship to continue their education and build careers that will support their families.

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Rocklin resident and Soroptimist Live Your Dream awardee, Jessica Barile, is in the Speech Language Pathology Assistant program at American River College.” I decided to go back to school to better understand my four year old son who was diagnosed with speech disorder and Autism,” said Barile. “I want to help other kids like him.”


Cecilia Mills, mother of two from Lincoln, is an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. “My goal is to become a trauma therapist and help these survivors heal and achieve their highest potential,” said Mills, Soroptimist Live Your Dream recipient. She is studying psychology at Southern New Hampshire University.


Breanna Thompson of Auburn is a former foster child, attends Sierra College and says she wants to be the first in her family to complete college. A career exploration course put her on a path toward a nursing career, explained the Soroptimist Live Your Dream awardee. “I want my one-year-old daughter to see me do it and realize she can, too,” said Thompson.

Del Oro High School students April Thibodeau, Abbey Galiotto and Maddie Jackson
Del Oro High School students April Thibodeau, Abbey Galiotto and Maddie Jackson

Ruby Award

Mindy Mohlenbrok, President, Shine with Purpose, received the Soroptimist Ruby Award for Women Helping Women. Her nonprofit’s mission is to inspire families to shine by connecting volunteers to community projects, such as cooking for seniors at the L.I.F.E. center, providing school supplies, feeding the homeless and encouraging mothers in shelters, explained Soroptimist Becky Faudree. “Mindy has a passion for pulling the rest of us in on her purpose to support the community through service and kindness,” said Faudree.

The Loomis Soroptimist club provided “Investing in Dreams” awards to three Del Oro High School students who are leaders in community service.

Dreams Award

During COVID, Investing in Dreams award recipient Abbey Galiotto repurposed donated Chromebooks by clearing off data and loading programs so disadvantaged youths could attend school online. She worked with Stone Soup PDX to help those at risk of homelessness and through Pivotal to supply Chromebooks to foster youth. She plans to major in psychology at university.

As president of the Del Oro Women’s Athletic Club, Maddie Jackson facilitated CARE nights about potential dangers in college life and exposed students weekly to amazing women from around the world. She led the dance team to overcome challenges with team building and the motto, “Show up, Show Out.” The Investing in Dreams award recipient will be recruiting for the National Dance Association while preparing to become a teacher.

Investing in Dreams Award

Soroptimist Investing in Dreams awardee April Thibodeau started small and now wants to make a bigger impact as an environmental engineer. She first made posters to encourage students to clean up the Del Oro cafeteria. To rally peers’ support, she became co-president of the Student Action Club. The students cleaned up on campus and in town, collected trash from homeless encampments and supported foodbanks with Loomis Community Garden produce.

Soroptimist Education Grant

Members of Soroptimist Loomis Basin presented the Senior L.I.F.E. Center of Loomis with a Soroptimist Education Grant to fund art, music and exercise teachers. In 1978, the Soroptimist club founded the senior center to provide meals as well as social and educational activities.

Teacher grants

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

Laurie Kiely and Jenny Portillo, both fifth grade teachers at Franklin Elementary School, will purchase colored pencils, skinny markers and paint brushes with the Soroptimist Teacher Grant. Students will use these supplies to illustrate maps, math lessons, science packets and art projects.

At H. Clarke Powers Elementary School, teacher Hailey Crosta plans to use stencils, Magna-Tiles and other tools to help transitional kindergartners build fine motor skills, identify numbers and letters, and learn about animal environments. Second grade teacher Gina Green will purchase oil pastels to introduce an “exciting new art medium that will add bright and vivid colors to their masterpieces.” The grant will allow second grade teacher Elizabeth McCall to use manipulatives such as Spelligator, word sliders, money bingo and snap circuit to engage students. McCall says that the hands-on activities will support students in reaching math, language and Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) grade standards.

Loomis Grammar School Kindergarten teacher Bryn Bacharach will invest the Soroptimist grant in 10 LCD white boards for students to practice sight words. Jodi Serrano, TK-8th grade music teacher, anticipates adding a classroom guitar to accompany student vocal and instrumental music. Second grade teacher, Rachel Shirhall, will use the grant to add dictionaries, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) books and flexible seating for her classroom library. Loomis Grammar School TK-8th Physical Education teacher, Owen Zielsdorf, sought the grant to add a variety of colors and sizes of cones that can be used to keep students safe and organized during activities.

Christine Clark, Loomis Basin Charter School K-8 teacher, will purchase the books for 3rd-5th graders to participate in the second year of the nationwide “Battle of the Books.” To meet the needs of 115 students at different reading levels, Loomis Basin Charter School 7th/8th grade teacher Melissa Patrick has been piloting an interactive computer-based program that allows the teacher to assign specific lessons to individual students. The grant will fund the Nearpod full license so Patrick can continue to customize lessons and improve students’ reading skills, essential for educational and career success.

Jennifer Mishler, Librarian, Ophir STEAM Academy, will purchase early chapter books for students reading at grade level 2-3 with the Soroptimist Teacher Grant. The books would increase 1st-4th graders’ skill level and help them transition into regular chapter books.

Samantha Randall, second grade teacher, Penryn Elementary School, wants to offer more flexible seating in her classroom to meet students’ needs by allowing more movement and options while learning. Similarly, kindergarten teacher Jessica Ryder will use the grant to create a learning space that is welcoming and fosters all learning styles by offering flexible seating including rockers, bean bag chairs, wobble stools and reading pillows.

Elizabeth Magleby, 4th-8th grade Special Day Class (SDC) teacher, Placer Elementary School, intends to use the Soroptimist Teacher Grant for STEM manipulatives in bins that encourage creative engineering. Students can engage individually or in teams using creative thinking to construct structures.

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 Tostada Bingo on May 13.

To learn more about the club, go to https://www.soroptimistloomis.com


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