Soroptimist International of Vacaville bestowed its first-ever “You Make a Difference Award,” to Kelli Germeraad of Vacaville on May 17, noting her outstanding mentorship, support, encouragement and advocacy for young women through the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State program.
Kelli has been working with the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 165 for 25 years. She is currently secretary and chair for Unit 165’s Girls State program, as well as the District 5 Girls State program chair. District 5 includes units in Solano, Marin, Lake, Sonoma and Napa counties.
“Your commitment and advocacy for the young women of District 5 Girls State program is phenomenal and you have been instrumental in the educational and career paths many have chosen,” wrote Soroptimist Bridgit Strachan. “We salute you for your tireless efforts on behalf of these young women. Thank you, Kelli, for your relentless efforts.”
Soroptimist International of Vacaville is a nonprofit organization chartered in 1960, committed to making the world a better place for women and girls. This year the club decided to create a new award to honor outstanding community service and celebrate women who are nurturing, mentoring, advocating, encouraging, supporting and inspiring women and girls. Since Kelli has been active with the Girls State selection program, her unit has sent 165 girls to attend the five-day workshop, which recently moved from Southern California to California State University, Sacramento. The leadership program is designed to develop leadership skills, confidence, and action based understanding of the governmental process by building city, county and state government from the ground up. It gives young women a lasting foundation for personal and profession success.
“Thanks to some generous sponsorships and support, our Vacaville unit has been able to grow our program from three high schools to six (Vacaville, Wood, Vacaville Christian, Buckingham, Vanden and Armijo),” said Kelli.
She credits the auxiliary’s Girls State selection panel for its commitment to excellence, and for partnering with local schools to make it happen each year; and to Wenonah Angier, who co-chaired with Kelli for many years, sharing her great perspective, until her death in 2019.
“It’s really rewarding,” said Kelli. “You not only get to know the girls, but most stay in touch, and you get to see these young women flourish.”
Kelli has been a longtime supporter of the armed forces. In addition to the American Legion Auxiliary, she’s served 15 years in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Unit 7244, and is on a number of boards including the VA Northern California Health Care advisory board and Rep. John Garamendi’s veteran advisory board. She also coordinated the Wounded Warriors visitations at Travis Air Force Base from 2004 to 2013. Her husband, Jake, is a Vietnam Veteran of the Marine Corps and her son, Ryan, is a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism, serving in the Air Force.
Kelli is a retired billing specialist who wrote “Kelli’s Heroes,” a weekly column about veteran issues for The Reporter for more than 20 years, ending last fall.
Although Kelli was unable to attend the awards ceremony, she received a crystal Waterford vase, inscribed in her honor.
Soroptimist International of Vacaville was chartered in 1960 and continues to focus on its goal of making the world a better place for women and girls. The group meets weekly and welcomes new members. For more information about the club, visit www.VacavilleSoroptimist.org.