This is my favorite time of the Soroptimist year, as we approach Spring Conference and prepare to honor our Live Your Dream Award recipients. Each club in Desert Coast Region has a long history of participation in this local project with global reach, and we all can remember particular honorees whose stories touched our hearts or connected with us in an especially meaningful way.
Each time I hear from the women we recognize with these awards, I am inspired by their resilience, bravery, and commitment: first by daring to dream of a better life for themselves and their families, and then by the passion with which they go after that dream despite obstacles, present and past, that would force lesser women to stick with the status quo. Every day, despite having to juggle family responsibilities, work and study, usually under precarious financial circumstances, our honorees wake up and decide to move forward to create, by big steps and little ones, a better life for themselves. These are the women we have the privilege to serve, and like most of you, I am inspired by their mighty and hopeful hearts.
We know that financial awards are wonderful for our honorees, allowing them to pay for classes, gas, clothing, or any number of other essentials, and our honorees are grateful for that kind of support. We as members are proud of the over $100,000 in awards we distributed last year, at the Club and Region level, in support of 72 honorees. But what we hear over and over, is that while cash gifts are wonderful, it is the simple fact of being recognized for their efforts by the successful members of a Soroptimist Club that is the most important part of the program for these women.
As you know, our LiveYourDream.org site was established to engage more people in our Soroptimist mission. One way LiveYourDream.org volunteers can take action is by submitting a message of support to the women we serve with our Live Your Dream Awards. SIA has been collecting those inspirational messages and has created a beautiful webpage of support and encouragement for our recipients! Here's a link to those messages.
Expand the inspiration of the Live Your Dream website by asking your members to sign a card to each of your honorees as a memento of their special day, or connect from time to time with a note that says "thinking of you" as a reminder of the Soroptimists who stand behind them, ready to assist when they need a hand up. And hey, who isn't excited to get something in the mail that isn't a bill! Remember to reach out beyond the cash award by staying in touch with your honorees, offering to mentor, sharing stress handling techniques (check the Dream It, Be It curriculum, Session 6), providing tutors for themselves or their kids, helping with professional services, or even by offering to babysit to allow time for study. With your local connection, you will find ways to provide the service aspect that is baked right into this award.
The power of the Live Your Dream Award is that it is a community based project, and each club can work within the parameters of the award to satisfy the needs of the honorees in their community. We can't spend too much of our time or treasure on this project, as it is the one that helps us stand out in a crowded field of agencies and groups as the one that improves the life of women through programs leading to economic and social empowerment. The Live Your Dream Award is what makes us Soroptimists and lets us be what we say we are. It's what makes us Best for Women.