Zontians Award Community Groups, Scholarship Winners
Zonta Club of the Santa Clarita Valley awarded nearly $10,000 in grants and scholarships at its business meeting this week. The awards included $1,000 each to winners of its Young Women in Public Affairs and it's Jane M. Klausman Women in Business scholarships and $7,750 divided between five recipients of the club's annual Community Grant program.
Winners of the two scholarship programs will be forwarded to Zonta International's District 9 for district-level competition.
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Jesica Sathy, a senior at Valencia High School, is the 2012 winner of the Young Women in Public Affairs award. The scholarship is designed to encourage young women to enter the public affairs arena and to become leaders of the future in dealing with women's issues.
Jesica is an Advanced Placement scholar at Valencia, and president of the school's INTERACT Club. She has also served as publicity director of Student Task Force, the student branch of the Human Rights Watch organization, which she attributes to broadening her views.
“Too many people of this generation become self-absorbed in ourselves and our own problems,” she says in her application. “We forget that there are people who face poverty, discrimination, war, disease, and are just struggling to survive, both nationally and internationally.”
Locally, her volunteer activities have included planting 75 trees at Newhall Elementary School and hosting a pancake breakfast for the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life. She's organized and raised funds for money to send mosquito nets to Africa to fight against malaria and has organized fundraisers for the India Pollution Project, to update a biodegradable waste processor at the Shatabdi Hospital in Mumbai. With the Student Task Force, she planned advocacy campaigns, hosted documentary film screenings and other public education events, and helped organize a child rights camp.
She sees a lack of self-confidence in women of Third World countries keeping them from gaining their full potential. She suggests setting up programs that put these women in contact with successful women who have achieved their goals.
Her educational goal is to become a doctor and give some of her time to a program like Doctors Without Borders. As the local YWIPA winner, she receives $1000 to help toward reaching her goal. Her comment: “I haven't changed the world yet, but it's a start.”
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Krista McCutcheon, a master's degree student at The Master's College, has been selected to receive the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship for her outstanding achievements and academic success. The award was announced at Zonta's May business meeting, and Krista is expected to attend the July meeting to receive her accolades in person.
After specializing in multi-media technology and communications for her undergraduate studies at Cedarville University in Ohio, she was owner of Blue Raccoon Studios, a marketing business, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for 10 years. Since 2000, she has been employed by Grace Missions International (GMI), producing marketing and video products for non-governmental organizations (NGOs); currently she is marketing director and counselor for the Spanish Language Institute for GMI, a non-profit school in Costa Rica.
Krista is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita because of her drive to communicate and help women in third world (or less developed) countries. She has had a non-profit career since 1999 in more than 20 countries (assisting medical clinics, literacy programs for undocumented children, antireligious discrimination and sex-trafficking prevention, to name a few); she has done fundraising from 500 U.S. donors to pay for her salary/travel.
Some of her volunteer activities include an all-girls orphanage in Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica, and serving as an English teacher in San Francisco de Dos Rios, Costa Rico. She and her husband have set a precedent in Costa Rica law: after three years of striving, the laws now allow foreigners to adopt children. They have adopted two sisters, ages 10 and 11 years, who were considered “too old” to be adopted.
Krista has contributed her expertise and background to The Master’s College and to quote her application, “has actually broadened our thinking for new applications of our discipline and the degree programs we offer toward endeavors in business and non-profit initiatives.”
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The Community Grants Committee was budgeted $7,750 to give in awards this year, and chose to split that amount between five deserving local non-profit organizations that share Zonta's mission to improve the lives of women and girls.
The Boys and Girls Club of SCV (represented by Janine Fairall, at right, with Zontian Michelle Dow) will use its grant to fund their SMART GIRLS program, which offers two age-appropriate modules to approximately 40 girls aged 8 to 12 and 13 to 17. Activities are designed to enhance girls' physical and emotional health through informational and experiential activities.
The grant to Carousel Ranch (represented by Denise Tomey, at left, with Zontian Alicia Estrada) will be used to expand its Go Girl program, an equestrian scholarship for daughters of single mothers. Go Girl will enable three low-income girls to receive partial scholarships to support weekly equestrian therapy. The goal is to improve the health and well-being of children with special needs, while providing a supportive peer environment and financial assistance with therapy for their mothers.
The local Domestic Violence Center (represented by Linda Davies and Pamela Braly, at right, with Zontian Michelle Dow) will use its funds to support training for approximately 12 volunteers to become domestic violence advocates. These volunteer advocates will play a vital role in starting the process of recovery by being there and listening, by sharing resources, and by empowering domestic violence clients in their quest for a new and independent life.
A grant to Single Mothers Outreach (represented at left by DaAnne Smith, with Zontian Alicia Estrada) will support the non-profit's Financial Literacy Training. The overall goal of the training program is to provide very low-income single mothers with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to measurably improve their economic circumstances and to ensure a better future for themselves and their children.
A new recipient of Zonta's Community Grant program this year is SCV Youth Project (represented at right by Kim Goldman, with Zontian Michelle Dow), which will use the grant to support campus-based services for at-risk adolescent females. These services include educational outreach, individual mentoring and case management, and support groups. Two of the key support groups offered to young women are the Girls' Issues Group (GIG) and the Family Issues Group.
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In addition to its scholarships and grants to other local nonprofit organizations, Zonta funds a number of its own service projects. These include a girls robotics program with the Boys and Girls Club, LifeForward workshops for local women, the annual Women in Service Celebration, the Virginia Wrage grants for mature women who face a life-changing situation, and a major role in the SCV Domestic Violence Court Advocacy program.
The club's major fundraisers include a Tribute dinner in the fall, a golf tournament coming up May 21 at Robinson Ranch, and the annual Rent-a-Santa program. The local Zonta Club, with more than 70 members, is a charter of Zonta International. The club's mission is improving the lives of women through service, advocacy and awareness.
This year's Young Women in Public Affairs chair is Cheryl Wasserman; J.M. Klausman chair is Rosalind Wayman; and Community Grants Committee chair is Michelle Dow.