Local Soroptimists Honor Deserving Women at ‘Live Your Dream’ Luncheon

Soroptimist Co-President Margie Mason and Ruby Award winner Linda OffreyViolet Richardson Chair Brenda Sharp and VRA winner Grace Rickert.Christina Dapper and Live Your Dream Award winner Donna Arnds.Donna Arnds, Linda Offrey Hazel Salomon-Jimmy of Hazels Bagz, and Grace Rickert with handbags.Rita Hadjimanoukian of L.A. Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office, Grace Rickert, Donna Arnds, Linda Offrey, Kathryn Berger from Michael Antonovich’s office, Viola Van and Elizabeth Andalon from Congresswoman Judy Chu’s office.

From STAFF REPORTS

11:32 am | March 28, 2016


The Soroptimist mission of helping women and girls was exemplified at its local chapter’s annual “Live Your Dream” luncheon, held on March 23rd at the Women’s City Club in Pasadena. At this event, the Altadena-Pasadena branch of Soroptimist International honored Donna Arnds with the Live Your Dream Award, Grace Rickert with the Violet Richardson Award, and Linda Offray with the Ruby Award. “This award luncheon represents the signature program of Soroptimist International,” said club Co-President Phyllis Howard.

The Soroptimist Ruby Award acknowledges a woman who works to improve the lives of women and girls via her personal or professional activities. This year’s award was given to Linda Offray, who founded Shepherd’s Door Domestic Violence Resource Center in 2000. The center provides assistance to abused women in the Altadena and Pasadena area, and offers services that include crisis counseling, support groups, legal services, youth violence prevention education, and professional training. “Receiving this award was such a pleasant surprise,” Linda remarked, who left a job with the City of Pasadena to devote her career to helping victims of domestic violence. The Soroptimists gave Shepherd’s Door a monetary award to help support its work in the community.

The Violet Richardson Award recognizes young high school women for demonstrating leadership by identifying a vital issue in their community, and addressing it through their volunteer efforts. This year’s award was given to 18-year-old Grace Rickert of La Canada, who taught a sewing skills class at the Door of Hope, a local residence for women and children who are fleeing abusive relationships. Grace chose this volunteer project to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, and felt that her Sewing Skills Development Program would be an ideal way to teach valuable skills to her students. “I wanted to work with women at the Door of Hope who are victims of domestic violence,” she explained, “and sewing is a big part of my life. I wanted to share this passion with them.” Grace organized three fundraisers to raise money for materials and to purchase a permanent, portable sewing center so that the residents could continue to utilize their new skills after her project ended.

The Live Your Dream Award assists women by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment opportunities. These women are the primary source of financial support for their families, are often leaving an undesirable domestic situation, and are returning to school to better their lives. This year’s award was given to Donna Arnds, who left an abusive relationship and raised her two children alone with little or no child support. She began working for the Door of Hope and began her journey towards helping others make a difference. Donna began taking classes at UCLA in 2015, and has maintained an “A” average. Her two sons have graduated from high school, and it’s a good time for her to focus attention on her dream of completing her degree. Donna plans to create a new career helping other women achieve their goals. “At first, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to apply for this award,” said Donna. “However, I knew that I would be among friends if I did.” The Soroptimist Live Your Dream Grant will help offset Donna’s tuition and other expenses.

The award recipients received proclamations from Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Assemblyman Chris Holden, State Senator Anthony Portantino, and Congresswoman Judy Chu. Each of the awardees also received stylish handbags from Soroptimist club member Hazel Salomon-Jimmy, the proprietor of Hazel’s Bagz. “I’m always proud to be a Soroptimist at this event,” Hazel stated. And, as with every year, attendees agreed that the 2016 Live Your Dream luncheon was a most inspiring event.