Using the element of surprise, Soroptimist International in Hamilton presented $7,000 in scholarship awards to winners just before Christmas.
“Right now it is hard to know how to get the word out [about scholarship recipients and award winners],” said Mary Lyn, SI co-chair. “We are struggling with how to celebrate them in the time of COVID.”
Rather than alerting the winners, or having their usual award event, the Hamilton Soroptimists placed the $2,000 and $3,000 scholarship checks in Christmas cards and went in person to surprise the recipients.
Tamsen Mitchell was at work at Chapter One Book Store on Saturday, Dec. 19, when Soroptimists and family members showed up for an impromptu Live Your Dream award presentation. Award committee members Teri Polumsky (president), Saundra Amsden (co-chair), Mary Lyn (co-chair) Sue Smith, Nancy Bussiere and Chris Rowles presented Mitchell with a scholarship check.
Mitchell, currently a third-year teacher at Hamilton High School, is teaching outside her content area and taking online courses to get certification in her new area. The classes she is taking are opening up a new set of skills and opportunities for her.
“Oh, my goodness sake, this is such a great surprise,” Mitchell said when presented her award. “Thank you so very, very much. I am honored, I am overwhelmed.”
President Polumsky said she feels that SI needs to thank Mitchell.
“Because as a teacher the future of our community rests on your shoulders,” she said.
The other Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards scholarship winners, equally surprised, were Elizabeth Taylor and Theresia Temukum.
Taylor has a degree in graphic design and is currently studying Computer Coding at Bitterroot College to be more marketable as a designer and web developer. Her goal is to start her own business and employ other female web developers to empower women in a male-dominated field.
Temukum and her husband are refugees from Cameroon where she was a nurse. Her credentials were not accepted in the United States so she decided to go back to school and get her nursing degree. She just completed her schooling and about to take the final exam required to become a licensed RN in Montana. Her goal is to become a healthcare administrator.
Lyn said the surprise deliveries were exciting.
“This was far better than just sending them a letter in the mail with a check in it,” she said. “It’s a good way to get the word out that we have $13,000 worth of scholarships to award mid-February.”
Applications for the next round of scholarships will be accepted beginning Jan. 15 with a deadline of Feb. 28, online at sihamilton.org. SI will give nine scholarship awards ranging from $250 to $3,000.
Nominations will be open for the Ruby Award on Jan. 15 with a deadline of Feb. 28. The Ruby Award honors non-Soroptimist women who are making extraordinary efforts on behalf of other women.
Lyn said this award gives the club and the entire organization the opportunity to say “thank you” and encourage others to explore ways to assist women. The Soroptimist Ruby Award recipient should be a woman who has worked to improve the lives of women and girls, has had a significant impact on the lives of women and girls, and inspires and encourages other women.