What a fabulous salute to the strength of women when on Sunday, May 31 the members of Soroptmist International of the Rim of the World held their annual “Making a Difference for Women” ceremony.
The seats were filled as the club honored and saluted three strong, assured and giving women on “our” mountain. As Soroptimists, each of us, in our own unique way and collectively as a club, helps to make a difference for women. However, we are not the only women with this focus. On Sunday, those of us who were fortunate to attend learn there are young ladies and adult women who are performing in their own way, to such a level that the committees, who select them, had us all standing, cheering and saluting their work, said JoBonita Rains.
Our SIROW Violet Richardson Award recipient this year was Laurielle G. Schwab. Laurielle volunteers for the Southern California Mountain’s Foundation. She is involved with protecting natural resources and educating the community how to do the same. Laurielle also founded the Rim High School Literature Club, where AP literature students work with local elementary students on a one-on-one basis, to help them develop fundamental reading skills. Laurielle, as a talented artist, is helping to beautify the Rim High campus with her murals. Our VRA recipient received $500, $250 for her charity of choice: Free Arts For Abused Children and $250 was awarded to her.
The SIROW “Live Your Dream” recipient qA April Moles. April was selected because she epitomized the award’s criteria: as a single mom, she is the primary financial supporter for her family of two young boys. She is also the main caregiver for her mother who has multiple health issues. The additional criteria for this award is pursuing an education; April is getting her Associate degree in Nursing. Her ultimate career goal is to obtain a “Master’s of Science in Nursing degree in order to become a Nurse Practitioner. Besides these commitments, April has a part-time job at Arrowhead Ranch in Lake Arrowhead. For her focused determination and to provide support for April to finish her education, SIROW awarded April $1,500.
The SIROW Ruby Award recipient was Samantha Patterson. In her earlier years, Samantha had been a victim of domestic violence, which led her to a battered women and children shelter. In her earlier life, as a young girl, she witnessed domestic violence in her home. As Samantha said, “Through the counseling of wise females” she knew she had to, and actually did, break this vicious cycle of generational abuse. Samantha learned how to do something positive for herself as she got her graduate degree. Samantha was helped by other women and she decided she wanted to do the same to be an inspiration for women and girls. Samantha volunteered at the YMCA and eventually became an employee. Through various transitions, Samantha started working for the YWCA, whose mission is: The Empowerment of Women and Girls and the Elimination of Racism.” In this capacity, she wrote a grant to the County of Riverside to build a home called “Born Free” to help chemically addicted pregnant women give birth to babies who would be born free of addition. Later, Samantha worked with Habitat for Humanity in Riverside County to build a home called “Live Free” where new mothers, graduates of the Born Free program, could live for up to one year while working on job training, school and additional life-skills training. Samantha was recognized for being an inspiration and an action-oriented woman who makes a difference in the lives of women.
The award ceremony was inspiring and so was the entire afternoon event. Each award category had its own SIROW chairman and they were Lauralea Hopper, Nancy Buecheler and Andrea Hilton. Previous Ruby awardees attended the event and were recognized for their contributions.
The ambiance of this event was very special and the local SIROW members, Chyrl Russell and Virge Witte performed piano pieces with extraordinary elegance and gift. The whimsical centerpieces were creatively put together by another SIROW member, Susie Stuart. All of the SIROW members should feel proud that they have recognized wonderful women. A salute goes out to the membership for being an inspiration to each other and to women and girls in our mountain community.