Four Local Women Receive Virginia Wrage Memorial Grant
Four very deserving women have received Virginia Wrage memorial grants from Zonta Club of the Santa Clarita Valley at the group’s December meeting. The winners will share a total of $8,000 after the committee reviewed grant applications and interviewed the top candidates, according to Committee Chair Cheryl Gray.
(From left to right: Alison Driggs Bailey, Suzi Pilarski, Debbie Martin, Nadine Teter and Cher Gray, chair for Zonta's Virginia Wrage Grant Committee)
The winners are:
- Alison Driggs Bailey, a single mother of three girls between 12 and 16, lost her home and all of her belongings while she was in a hospital recovering from surgery. Although not expected to live, she fought her way back to health for the sake of her daughters. She currently is enrolled in the Medical Administration, Billing & Coding program at CharterCollege and plans to graduate with honors next May. She will use her grant to pay her college tuition and school loan payment.
- Debbie Martin is the adoptive mother of a special needs child. She has returned to College of the Canyons to complete an education that was put on hold when her second daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy. She is majoring in Recreation Management and is looking forward to a career developing outdoor programs for youth or the elderly. The Virginia Wrage grant will help alleviate the expenses of completing her education while raising a small special needs child.
- Suzi Pilarski was married for 23 years to an abusive and controlling husband. Each time she attempted to rescue herself from the abusive situation, a family crisis intervened, sending her back to the “toxic” relationship. She finally made the decision to divorce her husband and is currently enrolled in the nursing program at College of the Canyons with plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing at COC's UniversityCenter. Despite numerous distractions and lack of support from her family, she is doing well in her college studies and is on her way to becoming independent.
- Nadine Teter made newspaper headlines in 2006 when she became the victim of a crime. That experience drove her to pursue a degree in sociology, which she plans to use for a professional career as a victim's advocate. Her goal is to dedicate her life to advocating for those who directly and indirectly are impacted by criminal behavior. After completing two years at College of the Canyons, she plans to transfer either to UCLA or CaliforniaStateUniversity, Northridge. She will use her grant to help with college expenses.
The honorees were presented with their grants at a Zonta business meeting, surrounded by a supportive audience of family members and school officials. The grants are given to mature women who have faced a life-changing crisis and need a hand to become self-sufficient again.
The grants are named for Virginia Wrage, a Zonta member who faced a crisis and was forced to make a mid-life career change. She pursued her goal of becoming an airline stewardess and traveled the world for two years before being diagnosed with cancer. Before her death, she agreed to allow Zonta to administer a grant in her name, to be awarded to mature women who also were in need of help to make a mid-life career change.
Close to 60 women have received the grants since the program’s inception, allowing them to become independent and self-sufficient. Click here for more information about the Zonta Club of the SCV.