Live Your Dream Educational Awards

Saturday, March 23, 2019, Soroptimist International of Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs presented $6,000 in cash grants to help five woman improve their economic situation. The awards ceremony was held at the Norwalk Doubletree Hotel. First place recipient Ashley Ross, 29, will use the cash award to complete her certification as a psychiatric technician at Cypress College, where she is majoring in nursing. The Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Soroptimists chose Ross because of her optimistic attitude, her diligence in  overcoming obstacles and the excellent recommendations she received. Ashley has a two-year-old daughter. Ms.Ross will now advance to the Soroptimist Desert Coast Region level, where recipients receive additional financial awards.

The remaining three Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women were presented to Melissa Hamby, Desiree Montoya, and Shaunise Price. Ms. Hamby, 28, is studying psychology at Cypress College, while raising her 9 year old daughter. Ms. Montoya, 28, will complete her teaching credential at CSU Fullerton in 2020.  Ms. Montoya has a three-year-old son.  Ms. Price, 33, is raising a son and daughter while attending Cerritos College with the goal of becoming a Preschool Director.
The Live Your Dream Award provides women who serve as the primary wage earners for their families with the financial resources to offset costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or additional skills and training. The award can be used for tuition, books, childcare, carfare or any other education-related expense.
Soroptimist International of Norwalk also presented a $1000 award to Deborah Ixchel Perez, a female veteran student at Cerritos College. Perez served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 9 years as a musician and Substance Abuse Control Officer .  Her goal is to earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and work as a Physical Therapist for Veterans Affairs.

Written by Marilee Stefenhagen

Educational Awards 2018

Educational Awards Ceremony

Soroptimist International of Norwalk gave away over $6,000 in educational awards to women pursuing their college education at our Once Upon a Dream Award Ceremony.  Our educational awards are given to women who despite encountering hurdles and setback are still committed and inspiring to live their dreams.

Six women were recognized for pursuing their college dream in the face of adversity and were treated to special inspiration messages from both our Norwalk Mayor Jennifer Perez and our Vice Mayor Margarita Rios.

Our Live Your Dream Award- is awarded to women who are the primary financial provider of their families and have dependents.  Please join us in congratulating our three LYD recipients.

  • 1stPlace – Cherelle Tisby

Cherelle is a single mother who is pursuing her degree in Communications – Public Relations at Cerritos Community College and plans to transfer to Cal. State Fullerton in the fall of 2018.

  • 2nd Place – Stephanie Perez

Stephanie is a single mother who is pursuing her associate’s degree in Nursing at Cerritos Community College.

3rd Place Jasmine Hutchinson

Jasmine is a wife and mother of three children, she is pursuing her certification/ degree as a Registered Nurse at Cerritos Community College.

Our Women in STEM (science, Technology, and Mathematics) Award – is awarded to women who are pursuing a degree in a STEM field.  Currently, only 6.7% of women graduate in STEM fields and Soroptimist Int’l of Norwalk is committed to helping change that.  With a Grant from Southern California Edison we were able to award two educational awards this year.  Please join us in congratulating our Two STEM Recipients.

  • Graciela Espejo – Graciela is a psychology and social behavior major at Cerritos Community College and will be transferring to Cal. State Santa Cruz in fall of 2018.  She hopes to eventually earn her Master’s Degree in Environmental Psychology.


  • Elizabeth Sanchez – Elizabeth is an engineering major at Cerritos Community College and plans to transfer to a four-year university in the fall of 2020. Elizabeth is a veteran having serviced in the U.S. Marines for four years.


Our Women in the Military Award – is awarded to women who have or are serving in any branch in the U.S. Military. Soroptimist Int’l is dedicated to supporting women who have served or are serving in any branch of the U.S. Military.  Please join us in congratulating our Military Recipient.

  • Therese Lopez – Therese is working towards physical therapy associate degree at Cerritos Community College. Therese served in the U.S. Marine’s and is a member of the veteran’s association at Cerritos College.

Soroptimist International of Norwalk is proud and pleased to assist these outstanding women in pursuing their educational dreams.

Thank You

SI Norwalk started the year by installing our 2017-2018 Governing Board with an evening out at the Outback Steakhouse in Norwalk, Ca.  Incoming President, Deborah Hayes, shared her theme for the upcoming year “Connections”.  Her vision is to enhance and strengthen our club connection between the City of Norwalk, Norwalk Chamber, Norwalk Lion’s Club, Norwalk Woman’s Club, and other non-profit organizations within the Norwalk area and locally adjacent cities and Soroptimist Clubs. By partnering together with other organizations, we can increase our collective impact and make a brighter future for women and girls within our local community.

The incoming and outgoing board presented our 2016-2017 president, Amanda Secola, with a Soroptimist Barbie for her dedicated service to women and girls within our community.  Funds raised by the purchase of Soroptimist Barbie’s are used to bring awareness and prevention of female genital mutilation, which unfortunately still occurs today, even in countries like the USA.


SI-Norwalk is a 2016-2017 Award Winner

On May 20, 2017 Soroptimist International of Norwalk was regionally awarded two Soroptimist Club “Celebrating Success Awards”, in honor of excellence in the areas of Fundraising and Public Awareness.

Soroptimist’s Celebrating Success Awards recognize outstanding club projects that improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment or promotes Soroptimist as an organization that improves the lives of women and girls. These awards recognize the best practices of Soroptimist clubs in each of the four pillar areas supporting the SIA strategic plan: fundraising, membership, program and public awareness.

Soroptimist International of Norwalk is proud to be the 2016-2017 recipient of two Celebrating Success Awards.  We are also proud of our President Elect, Deborah Hayes who received the 2016-2017 Distinguished Soroptimist Award.

Valentine’s Day Gifts

Soroptimist International of Norwalk donated writing journals, pens and Valentine cards to the women in the CCTRP (Custody to Community Transition Reentry Program).  The ladies were so grateful and inspired by the generosity shown to them this valentine’s day.


“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” – Helen Keller

Christmas Stockings with a Purpose

Soroptimist International of Norwalk in collaboration, a group of 15 women at CCTRP volunteered their time and talent to crochet 65 Christmas Stockings. These stockings were used as gifts for the residents at the Soroptimist Village, a housing project for low income senior citizens sponsored by several Soroptimist Clubs. This group of women, some of whom had never crocheted or knitted in their lives, volunteered to take part of this very special project as a way to give back to the community and in hopes that these simple tokens made by loving and caring hands will bring much joy to a Village resident during the Holidays. The stockings were distributed at the annual Holiday Party where the various Soroptimist Clubs came together to celebrate with the Village residents.

Soroptimist International of Norwalk has been a long-time partner of L.A. CADA as strong supporters of their programs, in particular the Family Foundations Program, and now the new CCTRP women’s program. Soroptimist’s mission, to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment, is a perfect match to the mission of CCTRP. Soroptimist of Norwalk has supported CCTRP from the beginning by providing Mother’s Day gift bags, several donations including women’s undergarments, yarn for the Christmas Stocking project, arts and crafts supplies, and stationary and stamp kits which are especially appreciated by the women in the program, as mail is an important way for them to stay connected to loved ones. This project was a true labor of love! The CCTRP “Crochet Club” is very proud of their accomplishment and looks forward to collaborating with Soroptimist International of Norwalk in future projects.

For more information on this event or LA CADA click here


A little Christmas cheer

SI-Norwalk member Dona hosted a delicious salad luncheon at her beautiful home on Saturday, with included a surprised birthday celebration for Si Norwalk Member Marilee with complete with a birthday cake & serenade! christmas-club


Thanks to everyone who donated toys and hooded sweatshirts for Helpline Youth Counseling. SI-Norwalk Member Angela was thrilled to be taking so many gifts back with her to help their homeless clients and families in crisis.

Additionally, earlier in the week SI Norwalk members Lisa and Liana hosted a successful “makeover day” for women in the SFS area and from downtown LA. Plus our own Desert Coast Region Governor Susan Gilbey stopped in to meet the ladies and donate even more items!  It was a specular day with many smiles and new hope for these special ladies!



Soroptimist International or Norwalk wishing you and your family many blessings this holiday season.

2016 Gala Highlights

Soroptimist International of Norwalk hosted a successful holiday gala fundraiser, “Believe” on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at the Norwalk Arts & Sports Complex from 4-7 pm. Guests enjoyed music, socializing and dinner in a festive Christmas atmosphere.  galablog

Three Soroptimist members shared information about outreach to  community partners L.A. Centers for Alcohol & Drug Addiction and Helpline Youth Counseling.  Hand-crafted tree ornaments made by women in transition at one of L.A. CADA’s programs, “Custody to Community Transitional Re-Entry Program” were available for sale, and attendees were invited to donate unwrapped toys for Helpline Youth Counseling’s “Santa’s Toy Shop” or hooded sweatshirts for outreach to homeless women and teens.
The evening came to a satisfying close after a lucky door prize winner won an Echo, and four names were pulled in the Opportunity Drawing as winners of the beautifully decorated Christmas trees.  Each of the 4 winners went home with a lighted tree loaded with over $500 in gift certificates and holiday presents, thanks to generous individual and corporate sponsors.