ALGONA - Soroptimist International of Algona is taking applications for two awards: the Violet Richardson Award program for a young woman from 14 to 17 years old who is active as a volunteer in her community, and the Women's Opportunity Award.
The Opportunity Award is for women who serve as the primary wage earners for their families, and who seek financial assistance to go back to school.
"It's for young girls that are trying to get ahead," said Vickie Roeber, one of the Algona Soroptimists on the Opportunity Award committee. "That money - it's a $500 cash award - they can use it any way they need to use it. They can use it in child care, they can use it for transportation, for clothing needs, whatever their needs are."
The $500 winner will also be eligible for the Regional Women's Opportunity Award, where one winner will receive $5,000. That winner goes on to the international level where three women will receive $10,000 awards.
Applicants must demonstrate financial need, be enrolled in or accepted to a vocational skills training program or an undergraduate degree program, and provide two references.
Women interested should contact Roeber at 295-9445 or Joan Fitzgerald at 320-3698. Applications are due by Dec. 15.
For more information, visit www.soroptimist.org/
"We get applications from Fort Dodge, Mason City, you know - all over," Roeber said.
Delores Thilges, committee member for the Violet Richardson Award, said the group gets applications from about a 30-mile area, but they will consider some from farther away.
The Violet Richardson Award is for a young woman who makes her community better through volunteer work such as fighting drugs, crime and violence, cleaning up the environment, and working to end discrimination and poverty.
The winner will receive a $300 award, plus $100 for her volunteer group. Applications are due Dec. 1. For more information, contact Thilges at 924-3609 or Tania Wiltgen at 320-3023.
Thilges told about some of the past winners.
"We had one gal who raised pumpkins, and sent that to where they had the hurricane down south," she said. "We've had them where they helped in rest homes. Y-Pals (with the YMCA) has been a lot of them, and various things like that."
Soroptimist means "best for women," said Roeber.
"We're a volunteer service organization for business and professional women, dedicated to improving the lives of women and children locally, communitywide, and throughout the United States and all over the world," she said.
Soroptimists meet twice a month, one business meeting and one social meeting, Roeber said. The group does fundraisers, such as a yearly tour of homes, and gives the money back to the community. They have donated money for the hospital mobile unit, the Family Crisis Center and food pantries.
In spring, Fitzgerald said, the group has an educational program for graduating senior girls "where we have the district attorney, the assistant district attorney and the lady from the Crisis Intervention Center come and tell the girls how to stay safe when they go off to college."
Thilges said the group helps a lot at the hospital, has donated equipment to the fire department and has helped with the nature center at Smith Lake.
"Our biggest project was RUOK, which was a computer program that automatically called people every morning," she said, "before we had Lifeline. That was back in like '80s. That was like a $7,000 project."