Editor's View: Soroptimist offer a hand up to worthy women in community

Inside the Fishbowl
By: Deric Rothe
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This week, Soroptimist International of Auburn gave several thousand dollars in scholarships and encouraged many women in our community to take charge of their own destinies. The money and encouragement help empower those on society’s fringe and those excelling from an early age. The annual awards presentation at Sizzler restaurant evoked a few tears. With a strong wife, sister and three capable daughters whom I love dearly, and a beloved mother who recently passed away, I admit that I am preferential toward women. As editor/general manager of the Auburn Journal, I also see too many young ladies headed the wrong direction with no help in sight. Many young women in our community get involved in violent, possessive relationships and fear there is no way out for themselves or their children. There is help out there, and the Soroptimists of Auburn truly make a huge and positive difference. The Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards, and programs like Peace for Families, provide a vital hand up to women on the brink of disaster. I have seen local girls go from desperation to a sense of deep pride and accomplishment. That’s a wonderful transition – from needing help to helping others. Jina Gloor was honored Monday with a $1,000 scholarship. Jina got pregnant at 19 and said she found life with an abusive boyfriend difficult. She dreamed of being a nurse and helping children. “People told me it’s impossible to get into nursing school,” she said. Life can be difficult with a now-7year-old daughter and as the head of her own tiny household. But Jina’s hard work and perseverance is paying off, Jina has been accepted into the Sacramento City College nursing school. She is now working at Kaiser Pediatric urgent care. She is also a Girl Scout leader, setting a fine example for younger girls that through belief in yourself, a dream and one step at a time, anything is possible. Jina’s success over rough obstacles is one of many motivational stories I have heard over the years while attending the annual Soroptimist awards banquets. I know many of the Soroptimists personally and each has a story to tell, many about hardships they also have endured. Former Auburn mayors Cheryl Maki, Annabelle McCord and Supervisor Harriet White are all Soroptimists. Current President Kristi MacIntosh and her husband Ollie take in special-needs kids and spend their time with them. That takes a giving person. Kay Whitaker, co-owner of Ceronix, and Jeanette Yetka of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce could spend their free time traveling or enjoying their golden years in leisure activities. Instead their involvement in Soroptimist International, helping girls and other women locally and globally, takes up the bulk of their free time. There are some amazing ladies involved. At Monday’s meeting the following Auburn-area women earned awards. Ruby Award – Dr. Holly Leeds. Dr. Leeds is a local healthcare advocate who has been instrumental in helping women with breast cancer and without insurance get financial assistance. She urged those attending to tell their housekeeper, a waitress or anyone they know without insurance to come to her Auburn office for a screening. Violet Richardson Award – Elia Rivas. Elia has been involved with the Sugar Plump Fairies since age 6. Her mission is to help children access the arts – music, theater and creating artworks. The Sugar Plump Fairies give “Artrageous” grants to children who greatly benefit. Woman of Distinction – Liz Briggs of Auburn Drug Co. “Liz gives and gives and gives and gives some more,” said her presenter, Kathleen Harris. “She exemplifies the character we are looking for and she is a character.” Briggs responded, not surprisingly, by asking others to get involved. “I encourage you all to volunteer,” Briggs said. “Auburn has many opportunities.” Sierra College Scholarship – Jessica Bidart. “I am trying to go to the Rhode Island School of Design,” said the $1,000 winner. Placer High School Scholarship – Claire McCoy. This young lady is active in soccer, dance, her church and has been on four charitable missions to Mexico. She wants to study child development and eventually be an elementary school teacher. She is looking at UC Santa Cruz and Chico State University. Ruth Johnston Scholarship – Celeste Havener. Celeste was Environmental Club president, active in the Spanish and Interact clubs and is planning to major in environmental engineering, possibly at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Women’s Opportunity Awards – Along with Jina Gloor, Michelle Layland, age 38, is getting her act together. “Today, I have a new perspective on life,” she said. After enduring many hardships including cancer, she said she is beginning again. “Anything is possible,” she said. “I am proof of that. Believe in yourselves.” The most compelling moments of the awards ceremonies were the heartfelt speeches of the givers and receivers. Soroptimists work diligently all year to raise funds to help give girls and women a chance. It’s a life-changing effort that is worthy of recognition. Congratulations ladies.