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SIGSCV honors SCV women

Soroptimist of Greater Santa Clarita Valley names honorees of annual awards

Posted: March 26, 2009 12:14 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

DaAnne Smith of Single Mothers Outreach displays the plaque presented to her from Sheryl Geraci of SIGSCV as the winner of the Making a Difference Award.

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Soroptimist International of Greater Santa Clarita Valley recently honored three SCV residents at the club's first awards ceremony held recently in the Oaks Grille at the Tournament Players Club in Valencia.

"We are so excited to be having our first awards luncheon," said Tora Brown, vice president of programs for SIGSCV. "Soroptimist means ‘best for women.' What the organization does is provide programs for what is best for women and girls. Our club chose to focus on women's health issues, women in crises and celebrating women. Today we are celebrating women."

Kris Hough, chairwoman of the Violet Richardson Award committee, introduced the winner, Shaina Katz.

The award is named for Violet Richardson, the president of the first Soroptimist club, The Violet Richardson Award honors girls, 14-17, who are making a difference through volunteer service.

"This is our very first Violet Richardson Award winner," said Hough. "Violet Richardson's motto was ‘it's what you do that counts.'"
Katz, a junior at Canyon High School, has always believed in helping others, said Hough. Among her many accomplishments Katz asked guests to her 16th birthday party to donate a supermarket gift card instead of presents. She raised $800 for the SCV Food Pantry from her birthday party.

"I believe it is our responsibility as human beings to help each other," said Katz.

The Women's Opportunity Award is a program to celebrate women who have faced severe hardships, preventing them from pursuing and achieving their educational or professional goals. To be eligible for the award they must be the primary source of financial support for their families and are enrolled in or have been accepted to a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program.

Julie Sturgeon, chairwoman of the SIGSCV Women's Opportunity Award committee, introduced this year's winner, Nicole Franklin.

"When you hear from Nicole you will be proud of the recipient we chose this year," she said. Franklin told her life story which included dealing with parents who were substance abusers and raising a younger cousin.

"My parents are now recovering drug addicts, they are doing very well and I am now talking to them again," she said.

Franklin returned to college and graduated from College of the Canyons in 2008. She will graduate from California State University, Northridge in 2010. She plans to pursue a master's degree in social work from the University of Southern California. Her award from SIGSCV includes a grant to help Franklin with her studies.

Sheryl Geraci, chairwoman of the SIGSCV Making a Difference Award, presented the honor to DaAnne Smith of Single Mothers Outreach.

The award is designed to honor a woman in the local community who is improving the lives of women or girls through her professional or personal life.

"Under DaAnne's leadership Single Mothers Outreach has created an updated mission statement and a strategic plan for 2009," Geraci said.

Smith was effusive in her thanks to SIGSCV for her award and to others including her board of directors and her husband.

"I love what I do, it is incredibly challenging," Smith said. She credited her parents with setting a good example of helping others and the struggles of her mother-in-law for her interest in helping others.

"But the real heroes are the single moms who courageously get up every morning and put their own needs aside in favor of their families," she said.

Smith said the goal of Single Mothers Outreach is to "empower single parents and their children by providing hope, support and resources for these families.

SIGSCV is a volunteer organization for business and professional women. For membership information visit www.SIGSCV.org.

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