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Soroptimists announce awards
Soroptimist International of Coupeville gave out three awards to honor women helping others in their community.
Awards were given to Coupeville High School seniors Breeanna Messner and Julia Felici in recognition of their local volunteer work.
The students received the Violet Richardson Award, which Soroptimists award to girls ages 14-17.
Winners receive money for both themselves and the a volunteer organization in which they are involved.
Messner, the first place recipient of the Violet Richardson Award, chose the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County organization to receive the donation.
She volunteers with the group, as well as others, including the Boys and Girls Club. As an elementary student, she helped raise money for mosquito nets to help stop the spread of malaria, and even gave up birthday presents one year in favor of donations to that charity.
In her application essay, Messner wrote, “helping people will be a priority for years to come.”
Messer said she plans to put her award money towards college, where she wants to major in basic medical science.
Her long term-goals, she said, include being either a sports medicine doctor or a part of Doctors Without Borders.
The second place winner of the Violet Richardson Award, Felici chose the International Order of Rainbow Girls as the organization to receive the donation.
Felici is a member of the organization, and is a past leader, or Worthy Advisor, of her Rainbow Girls assembly.
She was also involved with Relay for Life, selling sweatshirts to help raise breast cancer awareness. She also helped raise almost $30,000 for Northwest Harvest, a big contributor of the local food bank.
“I have watched her …grow from this wild crazy girl to a leader,” said Naomi Robinson, a representative of the Rainbow Girls.
Felici said she plans to put her award money toward college, where she wants to major in early childhood education.
Felici said she is considering a career as a teacher, either for high school or elementary students.
The third award given by the Soroptimists was the Ruby Award. That award recognizes women who help women, children and men. This year’s recipient was Vivian Rogers-Decker, a Soroptimist member who started SPIN Cafe.
SPIN Cafe, which stands for “Serving People in Need,” was a “community engagement center,” said Rogers-Decker.
SPIN provides free meals, vocational training and more to locals in need of a little help.
“What I want is for people who come in here to feel like they have people [who care about them],” said Rogers-Decker, of SPIN.
Rogers-Decker, a member of Soroptimists for at least eight, has served on the organization’s board and was president for two years before handing the position over to the current president, Janice Vaughan, in 2011.
Unlike the Violet Richardson Award, the Ruby Award is not awarded to applicants. Rather, the award is determined by a committee that selects a woman who deserves it the most.
Usually it is not a member of Soroptimists, but as the founder of SPIN Cafe and homeless liaison for the Oak Harbor School District, the committee decided Rogers-Decker deserved the award.
“Vivian’s done a lot for this community, not just the SPIN Cafe,” said Dawn Hesselgrave, a member of Soroptimists.
SPIN Cafe will be the recipient of Rogers-Decker’s award money.
Nearly every member of SIOC was present Wednesday to honor the recipients, as were representatives of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Rainbow Girls.
“I think tonight, everybody has seen the gift of giving,” said Vaughan.
Soroptimists or SPIN Cafe each have Facebook pages.