Five deserving women have received Virginia Wrage memorial grants from Zonta Club of the SCV at the group’s December meeting. The winners will share a total of $8,000 after the committee reviewed grant applications and interviewed the top candidates, according to Committee Chair Chris Miller.
Due to the personal nature of their stories, the winners have been idenitified only by their initials. They are:
A.R., a full-time nursing student who is a single parent caring for a son. She was the caregiver for her mother, who suffered a traumatic brain injury but is now living with her sister in another state. She will use her Virginia Wrage grant to pay off her extensive student loans so she can receive her nursing certification from the state. She graduated fourth in her class and is looking forward to completing her nursing degree and getting a full time position so she can provide for herself and her son. She has worked as an emergency medical technician at various events and also volunteers her time with the Mountain High ski patrol.
D.E.V. is on disability, having suffered from major depression for 12 years, which disrupted her education. She turned to therapy in 2003 to get her through a difficult divorce to end an abusive marriage. The therapy helped her get off all of her medications and return to Charter College after eight years away from school. She looks forward to graduating in April 2014. She’s a strong believer in giving back to the community and is a current leader at her church’s Celebrate Life Recovery programs, where she works with two-to-three year olds to teach them how to openly communicate with others as they mature.
G.M. was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and has endured 11 surgeries before receiving her “all clear” diagnosis. During her ordeal, she received strong support from her three children, which helped her recovery. Her dream is “to provide and to be a valuable role model for my children.” She feels that women need a powerful voice in society and wants to be an advocate for those who are suffering. She has a degree in criminal justice but wants to continue her education to secure a full-time position so she can support her children as they pursue their individual dreams.
S.L. has received her second Virginia Wrage grant this year, continuing the support Zonta provided with her first grant in 2011. She is currently working toward a graduate degree in accounting. She was a victim of domestic violence and obtained a divorce after 23 years of marriage. A stay-at-home mom, she realized that in order to obtain full-time employment, she would need to update her skills. She has already received her associate degree in computer science from College of the Canyons and by spring of 2014, she will have completed her Medical Office Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate. All of her children are pursuing higher education, but she’s carrying a heavy financial burden due to a lack of support from her ex-husband.
N.T. is also a returning applicant, having received her first Virginia Wrage grant in 2012. In 2006, she was the victim of a violent crime in her own home. Going through years of criminal court proceedings opened her eyes to the cruelties of society when it comes to protecting victims of violent crimes. She returned to school, pursuing a degree in sociology, and plans to continue her studies at Bradman/Chapman University. She wants to be a victim’s advocate, and currently volunteers at the Domestic Violence Center of SCV. She has completed the training to be an advocate under Zonta’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program.
The honorees were presented with their grants at a Zonta business meeting, supported by an audience of family members and school officials. The grants are given to mature women who have faced a life-changing crisis and need a hand to become self-sufficient again.
The grants are named for Virginia Wrage, a Zonta member who faced a crisis and was forced to make a mid-life career change. She pursued her goal of becoming an airline stewardess and traveled the world for two years before being diagnosed with cancer. Before her death, she agreed to allow Zonta to administer a grant in her name, to be awarded to mature women who also were in need of help to make a mid-life career change.
More than 60 women have received the grants since the program’s inception, allowing them to become independent and self-sufficient.