On the Town: Soroptimists end-of-year grants; Paula Devine's holiday party

"'Tis the Season of Service" was the theme for the annual grant-presentation luncheon held by the Glendale Soroptimists. The Embassy Suites was the sweet setting for the festivities. Last Thursday, dozens of Soroptimists dressed in red gathered to celebrate the holidays and some of Glendale's outstanding do-good programs.

Susan Hunt, the organization's president, welcomed members and guests. Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman offered greetings from the city. Soroptimist Sandy Schultz introduced the service grant awards with her announcement that $27,000 in grants would be awarded this Wednesday.

Earlier in the year, $21,000 had been given to the cancer services programs at Glendale's three hospitals — Glendale Memorial, Glendale Adventist and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.

That totals $48,000 that Soroptimists raised from their popular "Bras for a Cause."

The most recent grant-giving included some of Glendale's worthiest programs that help to empower women and girls. Camp Rosie, sponsored by the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women, focuses on the self-development and enrichment of girls in local middle schools and high schools.

Paula Devine, a member of both the commission and Soroptimists, said the Soroptimists had given the commission $12,000 in seed money to start Camp Rosie seven years ago. Since then, more than 300 girls have gone through the program. This year's grant was accepted by Denise Miller, commission chairwoman.

Other commissioners present were Lynda Burns and Seda Khojayan.

"Girls on the Run of Los Angeles County" also snagged a grant. This is the seventh year that girls ages 8 to 13 can take part in the celebratory 5k walk/run event. The organization's goal is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

The program has a three-pronged approach that stresses self-care, the importance of good friends and making a difference in the community.

This year, the girls collected stuffed animals and food for Glendale's Ascencia, an organization that helps the homeless locally and was also a Soroptimist grant recipient. Soroptimist Joan Allan presented the grant to "Girls on the Run" and a second grant to the Glendale Unified School District. Accepting was Vickie Atikian-Aviles.

Another example of one of Glendale's most giving organizations is Glendale Healthy Kids. Executive Director Sharon Townsend accepted the Soroptimist grant earmarked for mental health services and prescriptions for young women. During the past year, Glendale Healthy Kids has provided free medical services to 250 women.

Last on the list of 2013 grant recipients (in alphabetical order) was the Glendale YWCA. The Y's Michele Roberts accepted on behalf of women and children who are victims of domestic violence and utilize the services offered at the YWCA's emergency shelter. Part of the grant money will fund personal care items.

"One in four women experiences domestic violence," Roberts said.

The remaining grantees were the American Assn. of University Women's Tech Trek science summer program for girls, Ark Family Center, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Door of Hope, the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded's flu shots for female clients and Soroptimist International of the Americas.

Each of the 13 grant recipients received between $1,000 and $2,000.

The next "Bras for a Cause" event, the "Santa Claus" behind Soroptimist grant-giving, will be held April 5. Don't miss it.

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As if Paula Devine, a member of both the Soroptimists and the Commission on the Status of Women, didn't have enough to do, this dynamo added another activity to her holiday schedule. Last Wednesday, she and her hubby, Art, opened their Glendale hilltop home for a party of 20 of her closest buds.

Several of them belong to Elaine Wilkerson's "Walking Talkers" group of loquacious exercisers. Especially svelte for the holidays were walking talker Jolene Taylor, who is president of the Pelanconi Estates Home Owners Assn.

Other walking talkers present included Leanne Reynolds and Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman. Not wanting to miss out on the "Devine" fun, the rest of Friedman's family was on hand — husband, Guillaume Lemoine, tended to their 6-month old daughter, Rachel Lemoine. With Daddy's help, barely a cry escaped from Rachel.

The evening ended with smartphone photos taken in front of the Devines' gaily-decorated Christmas tree. Many of the snaps were on Facebook before the night was over.

Merry Christmas!

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RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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