At their holiday party last Wednesday, the Zonta Club of Burbank had a very special guest: a young woman who has broken free of domestic violence for the sake of herself and her children.
She and her family have been staying at a safe place in an undisclosed location. Last month, she learned that Zonta chose her to receive its 2014 WINGS grant. And at Zonta’s holiday gathering, she shared with her new Zonta friends a message of gratitude and renewed hope.
“Helping women reclaim their lives from physical and verbal abuse is one of the most rewarding things we do,” said Zonta President Brittany Vaughan. Burbank Family Service Director of Family Violence Services Christine Ramos added, “I know how vulnerable these women are, and I’m deeply grateful to organizations like Zonta who are willing to give them a helping hand.”
“Zonta awards WINGS grants to adult women who have endured major adversities and life-changing setbacks,” explains Marje Simay, this year’s WINGS Grant program Chair. Most grant recipients re-launch by going on to earn a degree or complete vocational training. All of them have, in one way or another, changed their lives for the better.
As the party progressed, noted singer Anibal Silveyra provided holiday entertainment, and Zontans gleefully stole each other’s gift bags during their “Bad Santa” exchange of holiday presents. But there were other bags, ones containing hundreds of personal hygiene items that Zontans had purchased for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center. “We usually think of donating food when we think of BTAC,“ remarked Brittany. “But for homeless men and women there’s also a great need to maintain personal hygiene.”
Besides the easy camaraderie among its members, Zonta’s highly relevant community service is also a reason why it continues to thrive in an era when many service clubs have gone extinct. And it’s a reason why Zonta continues to welcome new members like Seta Javor as part of their holiday celebrations.