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Joelle Leder-Rule/Women of Distinction, Christy Smith/Women of Distinction, Club President Michele Shockley, and Live Your Dream Recipients Kelsi Stieler, Kelli McCarty and Caitlin Hail

Living The Dream: Soroptimist Women Awards Luncheon

OAKHURST – Our local Soroptimist club celebrated some amazing women last month as the Live Your Dream and Women of Distinction awards were given out during their annual banquet, held this year at the Oakhurst Grill.

Live Your Dream awards

Live Your Dream Scholarships were awarded to Kelsi Stieler, Kelli McCarty and Caitlin Hail, shown with award chair Joelle Leder-Rule.

Soroptimist awarded a total of $3,300 for the 2018-2019 ‘Live Your Dream College Scholarships for Women,’ with recipients including Kelsi Stieler, Caitlyn Hail and Kelli McCarty.

Recognizing women who are striving to improve their status of employment and standard of living, each award is $1,000. A $100 fuel card is an added bonus.

Kelsi Stieler graduated in May 2019, summa cum laude from Fresno State with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies, having been a four-year Smittcamp Family Honors College student.

“Soroptimist is a great organization that helped give me the ability to focus on my education and prepare myself for life after school,” says Steiler.

Caitlyn Hail and Kelli McCarty are currently attending Oakhurst Community College Center, studying psychology and nursing, respectively.

Women of Distinction

The 2019 ‘Women of Distinction’ awards were handed out to Christy Smith of Custom Designs Construction and Interiors, Inc. and Joelle Leder-Rule of Joelle Leder Photography.

Joelle Leder-Rule, awards chair Peggy Davis and Christy Smith.

Christy Smith is a past Soroptimist member and is currently president-elect of Rotary Club of Oakhurst Sierra, as well as a community volunteer for schools, organizations and events such as Yosemite High, Elegant Auction, Christmas Tree Auction and Golden Chain Theatre.

Joelle Leder-Rule is a current Soroptimist International of The Sierras member, immediate past-president and current president-elect. She also serves as public awareness chair for the Soroptimist Sierra Pacific Region, covering 33 clubs from Central California — coast and valley to mountains. Leder-Rule is involved in a number of community activities and sits on the board of directors for the Oakhurst Community Center. She’s also chair of the Rotary Santa program, providing food and toys for at least 35 families — including about 100 children — each holiday season.

Women Helping Women

Committee chair Peggy Davis, recipient Jolinda Thomas and her husband Greg and son Wesley.

The 2019 ‘Women Helping Women’ Award was given to Jolinda Thomas of Cornerstone Counseling. Unable to attend the luncheon last month, she was instead honored on June 6.

Soroptimist says Thomas is always in possession of a bright smile for so many in the community, and gives back immensely to her clients — going above and beyond for each of them.

“Our desire at Cornerstone Family Counseling is to create a safe and welcoming place for people to heal,” Thomas says. “We are a group of clinicians who have experienced being the client as well as the clinician and have passion for helping people become unstuck.”

Applications for the 2019-2020 ‘Live Your Dream’ College Scholarships will be open on August 1, 2019 and will be available online.

Funding for the Soroptimist awards is possible thanks to programs and events held throughout the year, including the upcoming Soroptimist Chili Cook Off on Nov. 9 at the Oakhurst Community Center.

Soroptimist is an international volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Founded in 1921, Soroptimist International has approximately 80,,000 members in 132 countries and territories. Soroptimist members belong to local clubs which determine community focus projects and programs in addition to supporting organization-wide programs, all of which benefit women and girls.

Interested in becoming a new member? Meetings are the 1st and 3rd Thursdays each month at the Oakhurst Grill on Highway 41. For more information contact Joelle Leder-Rule.

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