In keeping with Women’s History Month, Soroptimist International of Vacaville honored four young women for their dreams, dedication and determination via Zoom during its March 15 meeting, including one who was chosen to compete at the regional level.
Amada Madrigal not only earned a first-place award of $2,000 in the Live Your Dream program through the Vacaville club, she will advance as the District II winner to the Founder Region level, where she could earn another $5,000. Should she continue on as a finalist in the Soroptimist International of the Americans competition, she could earn another $10,000.
The Vacaville club voted to send Amada to the Founder Region conference in Hawaii April 29-May 1, where she will be honored for her award.
The Live Your Dream award supports women who are head of their household, often with young children, and still trying to get their education so they can secure better jobs.
Amada is the mother of two children, ages 2 and 7, and is studying human services at Solano Community College, with the goal of becoming an educator. She’s part of a program that provides food and clothing to those in need. A former foster child, she has been driven to change the trajectory of her life. Her mentors describe her as creative, a leader and one who can adjust on the fly in any situation.
April Munguia is the second-place winner, earning $1,000. A single mother, she is studying to become a registered nurse and would eventually like to be a nurse practitioner. She is the first generation in her family to attend college. She is experiencing hands-on education at clinical sites and is practicing bedside care.
Leslie Maldonado is the third-place winner, earning $1,000. A single mother, she works at a children’s dental office and attends Solano Community College, with the goal of becoming a dental anesthesiologist.
A Vacaville High School sophomore, Caitlyn Gonzales, was selected as this year’s Violet Richardson award winner for outstanding leadership and community service.
Caitlyn started a Women in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) program at Vacaville high to encourage women to focus on STEM careers. She is actively involved in the Team Vacaville Buddy Program and the Vacaville High Community Tutoring Program. She’s also reigning right now as Miss Teen Fiesta for 2021-22.
Caitlyn received $1,500 for her award, and will bestow an additional $1,500 to her charities: $1,000 to the Women in STEM Club, and two $250 scholarships for the Music Booster Club.
“It’s part of our mission to make the world a better place for women and girls, and honoring these four young women and giving them some financial support to help them achieve their dreams is what it’s all about,” said SI Vacaville President Jackie De Vries.
On March 8, the International Day of Women, Soroptimist International of Vacaville voted to send $1,000 to Soroptimist International of Europe’s Defense Relief Fund and quickly challenged other clubs around the world do to the same.
“We may not be able to stop what is happening, but we can contribute to relief efforts and I am doing so to honor my father and grandparents,” said our club President Jackie DeVries.
President Elect Linda Johnson sent a message and photo of support to the Soroptimist Club of the Ukraine and was thrilled to receive a message back, “Thank you dear sisters!!!!”
“Soroptimist means ‘Best for Women,’ not just women in our own little niche of the world, but all women and girls everywhere,” said Linda. “Ukrainian women and children are currently fleeing their country alone while their husbands, sons and brothers are fighting to save their country. While we can’t physically provide assistance we can provide funds to assist neighboring countries in their efforts to provide safe shelter, food, clothing and medical assistance to these women and children.”
We used part of our Tuesday meeting to decorate posters of support with messages in both English and Ukrainian. Messages included, “Stay strong sisters,” “Our hearts are with you,” and “Hold on to hope!” The Facebook post included a group photo. Individual photos will be posted soon, and club members were encouraged to share with their friends on Facebook.
Jackie said the Russian invasion has affected her deeply.
“My father’s boyhood home, Holland, was invaded by the Nazis in World War II. He was not able to escape and had to live in occupied Holland as a young teen. The trauma he and his family suffered is nothing anyone should go through.”
Her sister and fellow club member Joy Swank agreed.
“Our hearts are aching for the people of Ukraine. We stand united in our commitment to helping women and girls throughout the world,” said Joy. “Sending money to help is the least we can do. We pray it helps and gives them hope.”
Please consider a club donation or a personal donation. If a donation isn’t possible, we urge you to make your own posters and share on Facebook: “A positive ray of light and support in dark times!”
The link to SIA’s defense fund is: