Rachel Nelson, a senior at Vacaville Christian High School, has earned the Barbara Stevenson award of $1,000 award from Founder Region, Soroptimist International of The Americas, announced Mary Dickey, Soroptimist International of Vacaville president.
The Barbara Stevenson award is given to a member of an S Club who demonstrates exemplary leadership and service to the mission of Soroptimist, which is to make the world a better place for women and girls. Rachel has served as the club’s president in 2020-2021.The Vacaville Christian High School S Club is one of several local clubs sponsored by SI Vacaville.
The award will be presented at a virtual conference April 28-May 2.
This is in addition to the $700 Violet Richardson award presented to her by Soroptimist International of Vacaville in March for outstanding community service. Her charity of choice, Horseplay Therapeutic Riding Center in Dixon, also received $700.
Rachel has long volunteered for the Dixon riding center, and credits it with instilling her desire to help the disabled in her community. In addition, she was a 2020 Girls State Delegate; a member of the Varsity Swim Team and National Honor Society; and served as Student Body President. She is also a co-concertmaster violinist, and has volunteered at the Vacaville Storehouse, Adopt-a-Block and for the Make a Wish Foundation.
Soroptimist International of Vacaville took time out to honor some of its own during an award ceremony/Zoom call Tuesday, March 30.
Club president Mary Dickey noted that the club started 60-plus years ago with 25 members, and has nearly 50 today. And that if you add up all the years of service of current club members, it surpasses 600 years.
She followed that up with a tribute to five women who have all been with the Vacaville club 40 years or more: Jill Hunter (44), Jan Marie Whitley (44), Debbie Hitzeman (42), Jackie Ricketts (41) and Jana Boyce Stein (40) and then presented (via Zoom) Jana with her 40-year pin. The “Fab Five” have 213 years of service between them, according to Mary.
Tara Baumann was honored with her 25-year pin, while Lenora Fuller and Suzanne Clark both earned 20-year pins. Joy Swank collected her 10-year pin while LuAnn Hefner, Linda Johnson, Rachel Morgan and Bridgit Strachan all earned 5-year pins.
A special Soroptimist Forward Award was presented by the board of directors to past President Lisa Hilas, for moving the club forward in so many ways.
“Lucky for Soroptimist International of Vacaville, Lisa Hilas is a big dreamer – and her dreams always focus on how to make our club better, how to publicize the work we do, and how best to recruit new members,” said Mary.
Lisa was lauded for automating the financial reporting system and the scholarship application process, improving the annual lobster dinner fundraiser, the website, and more with innovation and energy. When the coronavirus closed businesses and nonprofits alike, Lisa moved SI Vacaville onto Zoom, and kept everything going. She dreamed up the Soroptimist Means Business: Women Investing in Women grant, and with her team’s help, was able to present $14,000 in grants to 18 women business leaders in Vacaville.
A special posthumous Fellowship Award was presented in honor of Charlie Ricketts to his widow, Jackie Ricketts, by longtime friend Debbie Hitzeman. Debbie shared Charlie’s history in Vacaville, how he met and married Jackie and continued to support her Soroptimist ventures, even as he was involved in his own business and Rotary. “He was a true Soropti-mister,” said Debbie.
The club Fellowship Award was presented to past President Beth Rowe for her many accomplishments in making Vacaville a better place for women and girls. Among her many efforts, she was lauded for raising attention and getting forgotten rape kits tested; raising community awareness of human trafficking issues; and taking a leadership role in organizing and connecting with local S Clubs.
“Beth is a real dynamo with a real passion for helping women, and we are so lucky to have her,” said Mary. A donation of $1,000 in her name to Soroptimist International of the Americas will support women who are in the final phase of their doctoral degrees.
The Club’s Laurel Society pin went to Diane Barney, for her efforts to raise community awareness about the club’s activities through both traditional and social media. A $1,000 donation made in her name will support Soroptimist International’s global Dreams programs that improve the lives of women and girls.