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A global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.
NEWS RELEASE: Soroptimist Announces 2012 Award Recipients
International women’s organization honors three finalists with cash grants to help achieve their educational and career goals.
September 1, 2012
Philadelphia, PA—Soroptimist, an international women’s organization that improves the lives of women and girls, recently announced the 2012 finalists of its Women’s Opportunity Awards. The program provides funding to head-of-household women so they can achieve their career goals by gaining job skills or completing their education. In most cases, this opportunity is one they have not previously had due to economic or social barriers, or personal circumstances.
Isozumi also was employed at a nursery school. While in this role, she founded a support group for mothers of children with special needs. She became a leader among parents seeking to provide the best medical treatment for these children.
Currently, she works part time and is studying to become a nationally certified social worker. She is also taking courses to earn a nursery school teaching certificate. Isozumi is using her Women’s Opportunity Award to complete her education and hopes one day to open an assisted-living facility for individuals with special needs.
“There are only three assisted-living facilities for my child in my area,” Isozumi explains. “I hope to create a place where even persons with severe disabilities can lead a ‘normal’ life, have a purpose, and have human relationships with other people. It would also be a place where parents can interact and cooperate.”
Dawn M. Johnson
For years, Dawn Johnson struggled to overcome this life filled with abuse and addiction. When she became a mother at the age of 16, she got her life back on track for a time, but things took a turn for the worse when she ran away to live with her daughter’s father. She describes him as “an abusive alcoholic,” and says their time together proved to be “a living nightmare.” In the midst of a horrible argument one night, the police took her from their home, and took custody of their daughter.
That, Johnson says, was her wake-up call. “I knew I had to make some major changes in my life,” she says.
She returned to school. She sought help for her addictions. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by years of abuse. Gradually, with counseling and support, she began to heal.
Today, the single mom is working hard to provide a better life for her daughter and niece, to whom she is also the primary caregiver. She is currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in child and youth care, an area she is passionate about as a result of the struggles she faced during her own childhood and upbringing. Upon completing her degree, she plans to apply to law school.
She says “I believe that pursuing a degree in law will allow me become a stronger advocate for the people I work with and to impact systemic change with more weight and education behind me.”
Rowena Tutana Navaira
Navaira is in her second year of a distance -earning program that will lead to a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She studies at home and goes to classes once a month. This flexibility allows her to continue working to support her family.
“I hope to use my marketing degree to help my tribe figure out how we can economically sustain our farming activities while also promoting our culture and developing pride in our heritage,” she says. “That is my duty as the wife of our tribe’s chieftain,” she says.
“The Women’s Opportunity Award is exactly the kind of help I desperately seek to improve my life, the lives of my family and of our tribal community.”
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Soroptimist is an international women’s organization working to improve the social and economic lives of underserved women and girls. Soroptimist’s programs are delivered through a volunteer network that includes members and its online community, LiveYourDream.org. A 501©(3) organization, Soroptimist relies on charitable donations to fund its programs. See Soroptimist.org for more information.