Raleigh Soroptimists to Confer Awards for Women

Soroptimist International of Raleigh, NC will host its annual Triangle Women of Distinction Awards Celebration on April 14. Three signature awards of Soroptimist International will be presented. A keynote presentation by local award-winning CEO and Senior Marketing Strategist Olalah Njenga will follow a reception and silent auction. Five area women, including Jill Staton Bullard, founding Executive Director of the Inter-faith Food Shuttle, will be honored. Three signature awards of Soroptimist International will be presented by Soroptimist International of Raleigh, NC at its Triangle Women of Distinction Awards Celebration on April 14. The event, beginning with a reception and silent auction, from 6 to 9 PM at The Woman's Club of Raleigh, 3300 Woman's Club Drive, Raleigh, NC 27612. Olalah Njenga,award-winning CEO and Senior Marketing Strategist with the YellowWood Group will inspire attendees as she addresses the topic, "Is This Your Breakthrough Year?" Angela Hampton, Community Affairs Specialist and host of Heart of Carolina Perspectives on ABC11, will preside as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Local Soroptimist President Pamela Sinclair states, "This event is an important part of our program in Raleigh. Two of the awards help our recipients financially and two include contributions to other non-profit organizations. We are proud to present these awards and we rely on this annual celebration to honor the recipients, bring awareness of our program, and raise funds for projects that improve women's lives."

The three awards include: the Woman's Opportunity Award, which helps a woman with a family to support improve her economic status through education and training; the Violet Richardson Award, which recognizes a young lady between 14 and 17 for her exemplary volunteer efforts, and also includes a donation to her chosen nonprofit; and the Soroptimist Ruby Award, given in honor of a woman in the community who has made an extraordinary difference for women through her professional or personal activities.

The Soroptimist Ruby Award: For Women Helping Women will recognize Jill Staton Bullard, Executive Director of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. A $500 donation will be made in her honor. Bullard co-founded the Food Shuttle with her friend Maxine Solomon in 1989 and was its first active volunteer. Her charisma and passion have propelled the organization's growth from a small grass-roots movement to a driving force in the fight against hunger. Under Bullard's leadership, two programs of particular import to women have been implemented: BackPack Buddies serves mothers and families by providing weekend food to children who are otherwise fed through the weekday programs in the schools; and the Culinary Training Program which provides skills that lead to long term employment. More than 150 women have graduated since its inception in 1989, with 70% maintaining employment with a living wage.

Elizabeth Stewart, a senior at St. David's School in Raleigh, will receive the Violet Richardson Award for her work with Stop Child Trafficking Now (SCTNow), an organization seeking to stop trafficking by working to identify and prosecute perpetrators. She will receive $750 and SCTNow will be given $250 in her honor.

The Woman's Opportunity Award will be presented to Venus Flores, who helped raise her own siblings, then became a mother to four children: two of her own and two she took in when their father was incarcerated. She states "I want to work hard so I can give my family the life I couldn't have." The $1500 unrestricted grant will assure her ability to get her Associate's Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling at Vance-Granville Community College in 2011. Flores' ultimate goal is a Bachelor's Degree, and operation of an after-school center that will keep children safe and out of harm's way. Two runners-up will each receive $500.

Local recipients of the Violet Richardson Award and the Woman's Opportunity Award are also considered for further recognition at higher levels of the Soroptimist International organization. Soroptimist International of Raleigh, NC has awarded $20,000 through its awards program since 2005. More information about the event and the organization is available at their website, www.soroptimist.org, or by calling Soroptimist at 919-386-9910.

Soroptimist International of Raleigh, NC Founded in 1921, Soroptimist is an international volunteer organization of business and professional women. The name, Soroptimist, means "Best for Women." The mission of Soroptimist is to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world. Soroptimist International of Raleigh, NC, chartered in 1987, is a 501(c) (3) organization solely run and operated by volunteers. Locally, Soroptimist is focused on helping women achieve economic independence, ending domestic violence against women and their Triangle Women of Distinction Awards. For more information on ways to help, how to donate or how to become a volunteer, and/or become a member, visit www.soroptimistraleigh.org.