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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Soroptimist International of Greater Davis presents college scholarships to women


Organization’s annual Live Your Dream Awards provide $2,000 to two single working mothers

On Feb. 21, Soroptimist International of Greater Davis hosted an information and awards night at Repower Yolo on E Street. The organization named two recipients of its annual Live Your Dream Awards. In addition, the club presented money to the Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center and gave insight about the club for any prospective members.

Soroptimist International is a global organization that works to empower the lives of women, girls and children through hands-on projects, fundraisers and awards. Since the Greater Davis chapter was chartered in 1985, its primary goal has been to help local women, girls and children from Yolo County.

“The Soroptimists is an international program, established in 1929 [by] a lady down in Oakland,” said Wanda Winton, the organization’s former president and the current charity co-chair. “There was always men’s organizations — like the Rotary Club — and she said ‘Well, we should have something for women.’ There are now about 1,300 soroptimist clubs worldwide.”

According to Winton, the aspect that differentiates the soroptimists from many of the other community service organizations in Davis is that they prioritize their service over socializing. Much of their work also helps empower women in their own communities.

“The majority of our funds are from our local businesses and merchants, and so we try to give back to our local community,” Winton said.

In the past, the club has been known for hosting its annual charity golf tournaments and helping fund the MDIC, a Woodland center that provides abused and foster children with resources and legal aid, along with many other projects. The Live Your Dream Award — formerly known as the Women’s Opportunity Award — was presented on Feb. 21 and has been a Soroptimist International staple since 1972. The local Greater Davis chapter has been presenting the award for around 10 years.

“We give grants to women who are heads of households who are going to school so that they can continue their education,” said Susan Wilcox, the charity’s co-chair. “It’s usually a $2,000 grant, and we provide two of those a year.”

For Rita Durgin, the president-elect and sitting president, the award is representative of why she joined the club. In 2012, Durgin — then a working, single mother and a student at Sacramento City College — applied for and received the award.

“I could use it for anything,” Durgin said. “I could use it toward books, I could use it toward a new washer, if the car had broken down; it was for anything that was gonna keep my head above water. Raising three kids and going to school — it’s really hard, and that money really helped me at a time that I needed it.”

The Soroptimist Club tracked her progress, and in 2015, Durgin decided to join the club as its director. Three years later, as president-elect, she remembers how big of an impact the Live Your Dream Awards can have.

“The story that the women shared last night was that this money couldn’t come at a more opportune time as heads of households,” Durgin said. “They’re trying to advance themselves, their educational and professional careers. And so that’s what it means to me, you know, just helping to empower other women with their goals and their dreams by any means possible. It’s just been a very important stepping stone.”



Written by: Hannan Waliullah — city@theaggie.org


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