The women of Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley (SISCSV) are dedicated to enabling girls and women to live their dreams. Each year, a Soroptimist “Live Your Dream Award” is given to one or more single moms returning to school to better their lives while heading their households.
The organization’s 2019 fundraiser, the Classy Bag Affaire, was its most successful ever. It grossed $51,000, which is $10,000 more than in 2017.
This made it possible this year for the Soroptimists to present checks to four Silicon Valley single moms — the most ever in one year. The moms were honored at an award dinner, held April 10 at Mariani’s Inn and Restaurant in Santa Clara.
Rita Reyes, a mother of two, received the $3,500 first place award. After working in a chiropractor’s office for 18 years, Reyes decided she wants her own office. She is now at Foothill College, earning the science credits needed to enroll in a chiropractor college.
The single moms have all faced and are overcoming personal hardships. Growing up, Reyes and her seven siblings were often homeless. Her parents came to California from Mexico and worked harvesting crops.
“I feel a lot of gratitude,” said Reyes. “As a single mom, you feel like you’re stuck. Your primary goal is to provide for your family. Every month it’s figuring out how to make ends meet. This scholarship can support me in the months ahead.”
Three other award winners each received checks for $2,500. Melissa Ramanan, who has one daughter, teaches prison inmates. She is working to get her teaching credentials through Milpitas Adult Education School.
Katherine Reichenbach, who has three children, is earning a B.A. Degree in Early Childhood Development. Danielle Walker, who has a two-year-old son, is working towards an A.A. Degree in Business Administration at San Jose City College.
“I’ve been through a lot. My mom was in and out of jail,” said Walker. “My grandma raised me and my siblings.” Her grandma, Delphina Turner, was sitting beside her and her son at the award dinner.
“This award will help take stress off, especially in trying to make the transition to a four-year college,” said Walker.
Soroptimist Live Your Dream awards chair Debbie Tryforos was inspired by the single moms.
“It’s very uplifting to see the strength of these women and what they’ve gone through,” said Tryforos, a Santa Clara resident. “Still, they want to turn around and help other people like them.”
“Live Your Dream is the main reason I joined Soroptimists,” she said. “I feel really strong about helping women. If the mom is doing better, the kids do better.”
To the women of the Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley, no dream should be an impossible dream.
SISCSV, chartered in 1924, has about 25 members. It meets the second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Mariani’s Inn & Restaurant. For information, visit www.siscsv.com.