Archive for Publicity

October 2015

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This October we have a lot to look forward to. The Fall Conference will be beautiful in Burlington, VT with the fall foliage at its peak. I am excited to share this inspirational time will you all and I am very proud of our Club. Thank you all for your participation at Fall Conference.

Please invite guests to our October Meeting. Phyllis Grondalski will be sharing her experiences volunteering for the Mother-Child Program Visitation Program at the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center. Also joining us will be Regina Sanderson—Probation Officer and leader of the Womanhood Program at the Eastern Hampshire District Court. It will be a nice evening of fellowship and delicious food. Please confirm your guest count with me by Thursday October 8th..

I look forward to spending time with you and sharing ideas at our club meeting Monday October 12th at the Ludlow Country Club.

Yours in Zonta Friendship,
Lisa Sedelow President

P.S. Please bring an item for our “Date Night” Basket we are assembling for the District Conference Silent Auction. We are also looking for 4—4.5” pots for the Soldier On event in October.

2015 Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship


Click on photo to read article about Elizabeth

Dana  Burton, Scholarship Chairman, is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Fitzgerald is the recipient again this year of the Jane M Klausman Women in Business $1,000 Scholarship. The award  is given annually to a woman pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree in business management.

Elizabeth just recently graduated ELMS College with her BA in Accounting and Information Systems along with Business Management & Marketing. This July she is going to start work on her MBA. Her husband has also returned to school and together they are raising their six girls. She also was just offered a job from Meyers Brothers Kalicka PC after completing an internship with them earlier this year. She obviously is doing great and is completely deserving of the award. We will be honoring her at the September meeting.



Presenting the 2014 Jane M. Klausman District 1 Scholarship to Elizabeth Fitzgerald is Karen Duffy, Area 2 Director. They are flanked by Zonta of Quaboag Valley Co-presidents, Janet DaSilva (left) and Krisin Goold.



A Message from Elizabeth from 2014:

First I want to thank all of the wonderful ladies of Zonta International from the Quaboag Valley for their wonderful hospitality at their last meeting in September. Everyone there showed a true interest in my accomplishments and immense supportelizabeth in my endeavors. Being honored by being awarded the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business scholarship from a highly distinguished group of women for my efforts in furthering my education truly is a testament of how hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed. I can only hope that as I mature in my education and begin my professional career that I will too become a lady of the business world and a partner within the local community worthy of such an honor. My hope for my six daughters is that they will live their lives and become strong and moral characters within their local communities and in the professions that they choose as the legacies of the women of Zonta International have set before them.

Over the last 3 years both my husband and I have been full-time students while trying to raise a family. As we both have entered into our senior year of college we are getting ready for the next phase of our lives together. Both of us have faced many struggles and sacrifices but could not have gotten this far without the love we have for each and our family, along with the support and dedication from my parents to see that we become college graduates. Both my husband and I will be the first child of our parents to graduate and for my husband he will be the first graduate in his family ever, and not with just one degree but two.

13 years ago I dropped out of college convinced that it wasn’t for me and it was an impossible task. I entered into the working world and found success in various customer service and sales jobs. I even received promotions to management positions. As a single individual this was perfectly fine for me and I always thought if I ever got married I would be perfectly content with being a “soccer mom”. Little did I know how ignorant that was and that my perceptions of how to be a good mother would soon come to an end.

When I married my husband I became an instant mother of his two daughters and we made plans to continue to grow our family. In 2011 my husband was faced with either taking a 50% pay cut or to be laid off from his factory job with our fourth child on her way. We were at a point where with the commitment of my parents he could go back to school and have something more promising and passionate than walking a production line for the rest of his life, so he went back to school.

I saw his dedication and commitment and I couldn’t be prouder of him. He showed me that I too could go back and be successful, finish what I started. In the fall of 2012 after giving birth to our fifth daughter I picked up the pieces from 13 years ago and sought to do my best and obtain my degree in Accounting. This would allow me to get my CPA license and build a business from home so our children can have the presence of a parent in the home and still have the benefit of two incomes. So many families are broken because children lack the presence that they need from their parents but in this world it is near impossible to make ends meet on one income.

Last summer my husband and I had the privilege of being able to graduate together, cap and gown side by side, with our associate degrees from HCC, with HDSC02040onors, and that fall we continued our educational journey together. He went to Westfield State while I begin the Elms/HCC accelerated program on Friday nights and Saturdays. We both have continued to set the bar high amongst our peers by achieving academic recognition and have placed on the Dean’s List every semester we have been in school. In my accelerated program at the Elms I am with the same group of individuals throughout the entire 20 month program, we start together we finish together. Even with them I am seen as a leader and a woman dedicated to my studies and family. One of the courses I am taking right now is Business Strategy. It is the most difficult course in both of my degree programs and is the most taxing time wise, mentally, and emotionally. I am required to work with a group of individuals to construct a business from the ground up and each team member is required to play a vital role within the organization. On top of the executive roles we each are responsible for, I was chosen by my group to be the President/ CEO. This nomination from them shows their valued respect and confidence in my leadership abilities to not only lead our group but to be a leader outside of our school’s walls. I am proud to say that our Professor has personally told our group that we are by far the best and most thorough group that she has ever taught in this course. We maintain the top grade possible of a 100% when this course makes or breaks most people. Constantly my peers are telling me, “I don’t know how you do it.” They all know that my husband and I are full time students with six daughters, all under the age of 11, and they too know our path is a difficult road to travel.

As both my husband and I are preparing to graduate this May we are preparing ourselves to enter back into the working world, but not as we once were when we left just a short time ago. This summer we actually came up with a business idea together. Since his passion lies with mentoring the youth and I will be able to handle the finance side of a small business, we would love to start our own group home for troubled teens. We want to get them before they get into the “system”. The success ratios of teens being rehabilitated once they enter into a correctional facility are extremely low. With some intervention I’m confident that we could make an enormous impact on so many young lives. I am completely amazed by the road that we have traveled and how far we have come with just so little left to go before we begin a journey on another path. At our wedding we danced to “God Bless the Broken Road”. It was a true testament of how our lives were brought together to become one. We have and are taking that broken road to build new life together and build a secure future for our daughters.

Since my husband and I were married we have been dedicated to our church and our local community. My husband has been involved in mentoring local troubled youth and for over two years we ran God’s Table as an outreach to our local community through our church. Once a month we held a free meal to anyone who wanted come in, eat, and have fellowship. We did the meal planning, food prep, advertising and had a team of servers. Also, there was the opportunity for an open mic where others in the community could come and share their talents. Not everyone gets to be a superstar in this world but everyone has talents that they truly want to share with others, all they need is a stage to stand upon. As little as it may seem, providing one little corner of the room as a stage, it meant the world to so many.

Before my husband and I married I began a once a month youth event through my church called JAAM, Jesus Arts And Music. I developed a team of adults to help facilitate this event and I did the advertising, fundraising and networked within the New England region to find local bands that needed a place to perform, other than their parents’ garage, and gave them a stage. This event provided opportunity for teens to have a safe haven to bring their friends, hear their peers play music, and not have to worry about being exposed to drugs, alcohol, or peer pressure. There was an open mic, pizza, and games as well as the concert aspect. I still remember one of the bands that we had from New York and their lead singer came and thanked me after the show. He said, “It’s is so nice to come and play at a venue where there aren’t drunk people everywhere and people doing all sorts of drugs. Just thank you so much and let us know when we can come back again.” This talented young man was still only seventeen, I couldn’t believe what he had already been exposed to in his young life. It’s so important to have these types of venues available for teens to help keep them safe and still be able to enjoy being young.

On top of JAAM and God’s Table I have been part of the worship team at our church playing guitar for over ten years. Normally there is a regular rotation of worship leaders and I started to play a little in the background on the Sundays when my dad was leading worship. As my skills progressed I was asked to play with other worship leaders and to sing as well. Soon I became a worship leader as well having my own team of musicians. My husband even learned to play the bass guitar so he could play with me. For a period of two years my husband and I volunteered our time to help provide worship music for our church every four out of six weeks. During this period our church was in between pastors (our pastor retired and filling the pastoral position at a small church in the hilltowns of Massachusetts takes time) and my parents were actually switching churches themselves. Our previous pastor was one of the worship leaders and so was my dad. This left half of the worship leaders gone, there was only myself and one other worship leader to fill the gap. In most churches this might not seem too bad but in our church the worship usually goes for an hour during church and then another thirty minutes after the sermon. There is a lot of prep-work and practicing in order to be prepared to lead worship on a Sunday morning.

There are so many struggles and obstacles we have had to overcome just this past year. Between school, finances, time constraints and family life we had reevaluate our priorities and cut back some. The hardest obstacle was finding out my mother has cancer and trying to be a support to her and my father as she continues to go through chemo therapy. Finding out that there will be no cure for her and her prognosis is less than a year. It is extremely painful to see my mother who I always admired as a courageous woman professionally, strong and powerful, seem so weak and unable to function on her own. She went from working as a receptionist for an insurance company and climbed her way up to where she was a senior project manager, a principal, and just one big money making machine for one of the most prestigious technology companies in the world, IBM. Without her, her work ethic, devotion, and passion I would not be the woman I am today. She told me the one thing she regretting was not finishing school and getting her degree. There were many doors that were closed to her because she didn’t have that degree. Getting my degrees in business and in accounting is like her fulfilling her own goal that she had for herself that she never completed. My only prayer now is that she makes it to see that day.

When I first heard about the Jane M. Klausman, women in business scholarship for Zonta International I wanted to find out what it meant to be a Zonta member and what the club was all about. I came to find that the number one goal was to advance the status of women worldwide. For almost 100 years Zonta International has brought business women together to build upon their strengths to deliver opportunity and advancement for women all over the world. This is the type of organization that would have been perfect for my mom and her many talents. An organization I can only hope to be a part of someday.

I look at the dedication and commitment that women like Jane Klausman had and the courage it took for her to be a pioneer and advocate for women and their professional lives during the 1940s and 50s. I’m sure she faced many obstacles and discouragement from those around her but she continued on as a business professional, writing books to inspire others. Her legacy is truly an inspiration for me not to only be a strong woman in the business world striving for success but to go beyond that. As Ms. Klausman sought to pave the way providing support and reinforcement for women, I too would like to be an inspiration for women of the next generation. Be a woman that my six daughters can look up to and know there is so much they too can do with their lives. They can know that no matter what mistakes you have made it is never too late to try again and push forward.

Being a woman, a mother of six and a striving student for entrepreneurship the odds stand tall against me. Living in the 21st century and trying to instill the values of our mothers and grandmothers of being a “lady” yet educated and powerful enough to stand on your own two feet seems like an impossible mountain to climb. However, investing the time and having the courage to go back and get not just one degree but two degrees, enabling myself to set an example to my daughters, I can show them by my actions and choices, that in our ever changing society, success for women is attainable and should be attained. There can be a balance between a home life as a mother and a professional career. Women don’t have to take a step back or a time out to have a family, they can continue to push forward. As one of 2011’s the most power women in the world, claimed by Forbes Magazine, Sheryl Sandberg stated in her book Lean In, “We can reignite the revolution by internalizing the revolution. The shift to a more equal world will happen person by person. We move closer to the larger goal of true equality with each woman who leans in.” My pursuit of a higher education to pursue my own business and a more stable homestead for my daughters is my “leaning in” to continue the revolution of women seeking a more equal world our mothers before us only dreamed of.


PS:  I thought you and the ladies of Zonta might like to know that I have been chosen by the Western Mass Women’s Magazine for their top scholarship award for the Women in Business Scholarship. On October 16, 2014 I will be presented with a check from the CEO of Health New England at the annual “Top 25 Women to Watch” event.

Palmer Domestic Violence Task Force

A message from Joyce K. Axelson, DV Task Force Coordinator
Town of Palmer, Massachusetts

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Maya Angelou tells us ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you’…….

Break the Silence — Stop the Violence..

Over the past ten years I have worked with people who have been affected by domestic violence in their lives… I have witnessed and heard many men and women break their silence to stop the violence.
It has been a humbling experience to listen to the once untold stories of women and men who had been beaten down by a spouse, family member or boyfriend, or girlfriend, leaving them with no self-confidence, self-esteem or personal value.
Beaten down by someone they were in love with and loved someone who had fathered their children, maybe someone who had parented them, or perhaps a sibling.
Beaten down by the actions, words and attitudes of someone that was trying to gain control over their lives.
I have listened and heard stories that had been bottled up inside people for five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty and sixty years.

Stories from people who had been so sure:
1.    that the violence was their fault
2.    that if they told their story their children would suffer even more, perhaps even be removed from the home
3.    that they did not have the economic empowerment necessary to survive on their own
4.    that no one else cared about what they were going through
5.    there would be no assistance for them to flee the situation

Some of the ways a victim may break their silence –
•    Recognizing the situation is abusive
•    Sharing with someone they trust; someone who can listen and HEAR without judgement
•    Learning how to ‘safely’ say NO MORE
•    Often the Silence is broken by a significant event, a near death experience from the violence
•    Sometimes a victim works with a seasoned SafePlan Advocate in District Court to explore their options or obtain a Restraining Order
•    Sometimes people flee the situation, try to get into a shelter
•    Sometimes there is an incident that is reported by neighbors, police officers go to the location and try to determine who the perpetrator and who the victim are

What is the impact of breaking the silence for a victim?

  • Rejection from family, friends, lack of support
  • Judgmental attitudes from family, friends, community, faith based communities
  • Financial issues
  •  Housing issues
  • Employment issues
  • Health issues
  • Feeling ashamed, sad, isolated

One of the more significant dynamics of breaking the silence for a victim is that a floodgate of memories may come pouring into the stream of consciousness, memories of prior abuse that has been pushed into silence by the fear of what would happen to them if they told anyone.
Many times people I worked with would tell me that the event that brought them to Court or to work with me was the only event that had happened, or that the perpetrator was ‘drunk’ or high on drugs.
However, after a period of time other memories and ‘many’ events that had happened over the course of their relationship began to surface.
Often family support that is needed so much, is not there because families have grown tired of trying to help, or have become angry that the victim has not left the perpetrator after the abuse (even though through research we know that on average it takes a victim seven times of leaving and returning before leaving for good)

Why do the above happen?

  • Perhaps because of lack of information on how to help victims
  • Perhaps some do not know that there is help available and where that help is
  • Perhaps from a lack of educational resources within the schools and communities that we live in

One example of needing more education around Domestic Violence in the healthcare field.  The former Governor of Massachusetts put into law that when anyone goes to a hospital or medical practitioner is supposed to ask the question:  Do you feel safe at home?
This law was put into effect because the lethality rate of Domestic Violence Victims spiked so high one year the former Governor considered it to be a Public Health issue.
Here are two reasons more education is needed for the professionals asking that question—
1.    Recently after my Doctor asked me ‘do you feel safe at home’?  I answered her with the question — what   would you say if I answer no I do not feel safe?  She replied she didn’t know…I have asked many nurses and nurse practitioners the same question with the same reply…
A simple answer to a person when they indicate that they do not feel safe at home could be ‘ Do you want to talk about it’  ‘Is there any way I can help?’ or ‘there is help available, here is the information, please read that information here where you feel safe and you are welcome to use our phone to call for help’.
2.    Asking the patient the question at a time when they are alone with practitioner would be the most pro- active approach because the person who is with the patient may be someone who is currently  abusing them.

Here are some other things that a victim has to consider and think about when leaving…

  • How does the defendant react when silence is broken?
  • Possibly violence increases
  • The defendant stops paying child support
  •  Housing

o    Victim’s name not on the mortgage
o    Section 8 is in defendant’s name
o    Lease is in defendant’s name

  • Finances –

o    Victim’s name is not on checking, savings account
Or, all monies have been withdrawn
o    The defendant would not let the victim work I haven’t worked in years, how do I support myself and children? Is a question I heard over and over again

  • Phone will be taken away
  • I no longer have a babysitter for my children when I work

As I sat, witnessed and listened to these stories, my passion grew for:

  •   making a difference for victims
    •    motivating communities toward a change in attitude towards victims
    •    creating a space for victims to heal and go forward in their lives
    •    Educating our young people on healthy relationships

While I do not have the power to ‘save’ someone, I do have the power of my voice that is fueled by energy and passion to advocate for people who have experienced inter-partner violence.

BREAKING THE SILENCE, how can we help?

  • We can break the silence when someone we know or love comes to us and shares their story and saying to them in a nonjudgmental manner ‘there is help available to keep you safe–when you are ready come to me and I will get you to that help’…
  • Break the Silence by engaging in mindful discussions with others about Domestic Violence.-
  • Break the silence by having an educated opinion about Domestic Violence by reading, doing research.
  • Domestic and Sexual Violence affects everyone…and with the statistics remaining at 1 in every 4 women will be or has been affected and 1 out of every 7 men has been affected, there are people in this room who may have been a victim, or know a friend, a family member, a classmate, who has experienced Domestic Violence in some way.
  • Millions of dollars are spent every year in medical costs,   counseling, court costs, attorney costs and days out of work.
  • Domestic Violence does not discriminate — it takes lives of Moms, Aunts, sisters, daughters, Grandmothers, Fathers, brothers, etc….

We need to stop thinking this is a Victim’s problem, or a Perpetrator’s problem.  Domestic Violence is a Community Issue that needs Community members breaking the silence….Victims need a village to heal, they need support, they need jobs, they need rides to services, they need a smile and they need you to help them recover from the shame and devastation of thinking they are alone and no one cares.

Many participants that I have worked with say to me ‘I didn’t know that anyone cared’, ‘I never could have survived without the help of someone like you’, I didn’t know there were so many people who would support my recovery from Domestic Violence’, ‘ I never thought I could do this on my own’….

I have witnessed many women and men moving forward with success, keeping in mind that success is different for each person.  For some it is getting adequate housing, for some it is getting trained in a new position allowing them economic empowerment for themselves and their children, for some it is going back to school, for some it is moving to a new location

Every Victim has their own story about how someone they love has torn apart their lives in such a devastating manner that they thought they would never be able to face themselves, let alone the world, again…

The good news in the town of Palmer is there are people who are passionate about ending Domestic Violence in this town.

In the town of Palmer, Massachusetts there are many cases of DV that we note through our affiliation with the Courts and the Palmer Police Department.  We also know that there are many cases that we are not even aware of because people are afraid to report incidents or think that if they do not say anything it will change.
Our Task Force’s vision to eradicate domestic violence in Palmer with compassion, confidentiality, respect and integrity Is a vision that can be realized.

We know, because of all the research that has been done, that Education starting in early childhood and going right through College on Healthy Relationships and the warning signs of an un-Healthy Relationship is key to stopping Domestic Violence.

Currently, we are working with the High School to develop a program that is student driven.  This year Path Finder did the White Ribbon Campaign, and the library did an interactive display on Healthy Relationships and the dangers of Teen Dating Violence.

We are educating community members and Criminal Justice Systems on Batterer’s Intervention Programs that are available to people who have that issue.  These programs can be accessed through a Court Mandate or through personal decision to get help.

We also currently have plans to work with Head Start, the Senior Center, and other community organizations to educate and make them aware of the resources available to anyone who is suffering in a relationship where Inter-Personal Violence is occurring.

ADVOCATING – We are very fortunate to be able to offer services at Palmer District Court to assist people coming for Restraining Orders or who have been assaulted and perhaps do not have information about Restraining Orders and the legal system.
We offer two confidential support groups that are held each week one during the day and one in the evening, and have offered a confidential legal seminar and have a financial empowerment seminar, and self-defense seminar scheduled for later this year.

Break the silence Stop the Violence
NO MORE — What is your No More

When I meet other women who are as passionate as I am at STOPPING VIOLENCE TO WOMEN, I am so inspired.  With Zonta’s generosity of time and resources our Task Force would like to create an event in November that will have impact on all those who attend.  An impact that motivates them to get involved in BREAKING THE SILENCE as the women in Zonta have been willing to do.

I invite each of reading this to think about: — what your NO MORE IS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE..  I know that women in Zonta support breaking the Silence, by their example, by their hard work and in supporting programs for women.

I am offering you this opportunity to take a deep breath and breathe out any weariness you may have, take another deep breath and breathe out anything that may be holding you back from experiencing the genuine joy that you bring to other women…

I invite each of you to stand with me and say the mantra that I have my clients say at the closing of each session or group that I do.
I can
I will
Thank you so much for having me this evening to speak in behalf of all of those people who have untold stories still within them…May your day be filled with mindful awareness of the beauty within and around you…and may you smile extra wide today. And a huge thanks you from the women that we work with and continue to educate and advocate for in their road to recovery and success.

JMK Women in Business Scholarship

The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley is happy to once again offer the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship. This year the scholarship amount has been raised to $1000 and women of any age, pursuing a business or business-related program who demonstrate outstanding potential in the field and are living or studying in a Zonta district/region, are eligible. Note that applicants from geographic areas where no Zonta clubs are located will be considered and also eligible to apply for the district/region scholarship. Online students are also eligible to apply. The applications can be found in the financial aid departments of most local colleges as well as online by clicking here. The due date for submission to the Quaboag Valley Zonta scholarship chair is May 29, 2015. Please send applications to Dana Burton, Scholarship Committee Chair, 118 Jensen St., Belchertown, MA 01007

Kathy Picard Named Founder’s Day Award Winner

IMG_4238The Founders Day award is given annually to a woman in the greater Quaboag area who exemplifies the ideals of Zonta International, a global organization of professionals working together to advance the status of women and girls worldwide through service and advocacy.  Kathy Picard of Ludlow, MA has been chosen by the Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley to receive its 2014 Founders Day award. She will be honored with a reception and dinner on Monday, November 10, 2014 at Ludlow Country Club.

A graduate of Cathedral High School and a receptionist at Valley Communications in Chicopee, Kathy was nominated to recognize her tireless advocacy on behalf of children and adults who are survivors of child sexual abuse. Just this year, she was present to witness a new bill signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick that extends the statute of limitations from age 21 to 53 for sex abuse victims to file suit against their abusers. Kathy worked for 12 years for passage of the bill. She has now filed suit against a male family member who abused her between the ages of 7 and 17. In addition to speaking at the Dunbar Community Center, the YMCA of Greater Springfield and with other groups of all sizes, she has been instrumental in raising awareness through Children’s Safety Events and through Childhelp “Speak Up Be Safe” – a child abuse and bullying prevention education curriculum. Kathy received the Unsung Heroine award at the State House in 2006 and will also be recognized as a recipient of this year’s prestigious Pynchon Award.    Pre-registration is required. Email Pamela Albertson at with names of all attendees and pay $25/pp at the door – cash, check or credit card.
Like last year’s honoree, Yoko Kato, Kathy Picard is a keen supporter of our initiative called “Zonta Says NO” – a campaign focused on ending violence against women and girls. Zonta International considers this a societal issue. Maria Jose Landeira Oestergaard, President of ZI, notes that we need to “address root causes and focus on prevention through education to change attitudes in men and women.”   Kathy has brought that vision to Western MA with the help of

General statistics from ChildHelp: A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse. Approximately 70% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4. More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way. Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion.


2014 Young Women in Public Affairs Award Winner

Diana Gerberich shown with Scholarship Chair Kristin Goold

Diana Gerberich shown with Scholarship Chair Kristin Goold

Good evening! My name is Diana Gerberich and I would like to start off by saying thank you to the Zonta Club of the Quaboag Valley for awarding me the Young Women in Public Affairs Scholarship. It is an honor to be the recipient of this prestigious award and to be recognized for my contributions towards promoting women in society. I strongly believe in the important role women play in our society and the unique vantage point they bring to leadership, communication, solving problems, and making meaningful and substantial contributions in our world. I myself have represented the potential that women have through  many leadership roles and extracurricular pursuits throughout high school. I am a recent graduate of Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham.

An activity in which I have excelled to the greatest extent is playing the baritone saxophone. It is also one where I have represented women in a male-dominated activity.  I began my musical journey playing the saxophone eight years ago and never imagined the opportunities music would offer. At the Western Massachusetts District level, I secured the baritone saxophone spot in the Senior District Jazz Band all four years of high school .With determination and hard work, I made it into the All-State Jazz Band by receiving the highest score in the state during my junior year. It was with this ensemble that I performed at both Boston Symphony Hall and the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival– an opportunity very few high school jazz musicians have.  From the state level I was invited to compete at the national level against other state-level jazz baritone saxophonists. My top score earned me the baritone saxophone spot in the All-National Jazz Band and the title of being the top high school jazz baritone saxophone player in the country. As such, I performed with the All-National Jazz Band in Nashville this past October under the direction of internationally renowned bassist Rodney Whitaker. Additionally, I performed at Carnegie Hall in the National Honors Performance Series. Playing on the same stage that so many of my favorite artists like Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald had also played on was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. In each of these highly selective jazz bands, I was one of only two female jazz musicians. It is uncommon to find females in jazz and even more rare to see a female jazz baritone saxophonist. I did not let my being a minority hinder my passion for jazz and the saxophone. On the contrary, I was even more inspired and determined  to excel in my unique talent and represent women in a male-dominated activity.

Living in Wilbraham my entire life, I have learned the importance of giving back to the community and have done so in many ways. The most influential impact I have made on my community is through my Girl Scout Gold Award project. The year 2013 marked Wilbraham’s 250th Anniversary and, as I began brainstorming ideas for my Gold Award project, I knew I wanted to relate my project to the 250th Anniversary. Upon learning that the Veteran’s agency was looking for someone to clean up the Civil War Monument in the center of town along with nearby Gazebo Park, my project, titled “Beautification of Civil Gazebo Park and Civil War Monument in Honor of Wilbraham’s 250th Anniversary”, began to unfold. I made improvements including removing overgrown shrubs and replacing them with new shrubs, clearing large brush and debris, edging beds, applying new mulch, adding colorful perennials, and replacing the roof on and repainting the gazebo. I wanted to involve others in the project to inspire them to get involved in the community and be the change they wish to see. So, I secured the help of football players from Minnechaug Regional High School and approached local contractors to volunteer their time and services. Residents in town  voluntarily donated their time and offered to help with the beautification process. After 114 hours of my time and effort in planning, organization, and execution,  my Gold Award project has received many compliments and words of thanks from residents and dignitaries of Wilbraham for the work I did on both the Civil War Monument and Gazebo Park. Only about 5% of eligible girls receive the Gold Award each year. This accomplishment is even recognized by the US military. Gold Award recipients who enter the military enter one rank higher and receive a higher pay.

In addition to the Gold Award project, I enthusiastically represented my  high school by serving as a Student Ambassador for Wilbraham’s 250th Anniversary Celebration. As such, I  planned and organized a colonial bake sale for the First Night celebration and donated  $100 to the Atheneum Society in our town for the preservation of Wilbraham’s history.

One of my proudest accomplishments was having been chosen as Wilbraham’s 250th Celebration Queen. Through a pageant process involving interviews, memorizing and reciting a speech, and answering a randomly selected question on the spot, I was crowned Wilbraham’s 250th Celebration Queen last year. The randomly selected question by the way, was “If you were a talk show host and could interview one person, whom would it be?”  My answer—-Eleanor Roosevelt because she voiced her opinion which at the time most women did not do, she stood firm in her beliefs even when they contradicted those of her husband’s, and as a United Nations delegate she played a vital part in establishing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be inspirational to all women today to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt’s belief and how she managed to become such an influential female figure in our country and world. Holding this title as 250th Celebration Queen for the next 50 years, I feel I represent a love of our town’s history, pride in our community, and the unlimited potential for success that our schools have to offer Wilbraham students.

Scholastic achievement has been another highlight of my personal accomplishments. All throughout high school I voluntarily challenged myself with honors and AP classes. I completed six Advanced Placement courses and took the respective tests through the College Board. This rigorous course load posed an intellectual challenge that I balanced with all of my extracurricular activities. Recognized for high achievement and academic excellence, I have received Departmental Awards in History, Computer Science, Fine Arts, and Physical Education. Other special awards include the Yale University Book Award, Psychology Book Award, American Citizenship Award, Rotary Club Leadership Award, and the recognition of being a National Merit Scholar.

My extracurricular activities have also given me an opportunity to represent women in unique ways.  At the 2011 Model United Nations Conference at the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, I represented the country Djibouti in the African Union and was given the Honorable Mention Delegate Award for this effort.  I also won first place at the Western Massachusetts Regional Science Fair on a team project titled “Determining the Mechanical Properties of the Embryonic Environment Through Cavitation Rheology”. Please note that for both Model United Nations and science,  women are in the minority.

This fall I will be attending Harvard University where I intend to pursue a degree in statistics or applied math. My aspiration is to utilize my love of math and statistics to become an actuary. Through its Women’s Studies Department, I also hope to take a class that will help me become even more aware of the critical issues facing women across the globe. Sexual violence and trafficking, denial of an education,  poverty and its implications on the quality of life, and female infanticide are all very real and tragic issues facing women around the globe, even in the United States. I applaud each of you as members of the Zonta Club of the Quaboag Valley  for your willingness to be ambassadors and advocates for the equal and fair treatment of women around the world.

I would also especially like to thank the Zonta Club of the Quaboag Valley for supporting me as I continue to grow intellectually over these next four years and continue to represent the potential women have in society. Thank you and enjoy the rest of the evening!


Republican Article on Auction
Quaboag Valley Zonta Club plans Silent No More auction in Ludlow

By Kathryn Roy | Special to The Republican
on April 28, 2014
DVposter.jpgThe Quaboag Valley chapter of Zonta International plans a fundraising auction to benefit agencies which fight domestic violence.

LUDLOW – The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley will raise funds for projects aimed at stopping violence against women and children through its Silent “No more!” auction on May 5 at the Ludlow Country Club.

The Zonta Club works to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. It is one of 1,200 clubs around the globe, which are part of Zonta International.

“The auction began in 2009, and it’s part of our mission to work through international and local events, raising awareness and advocating and providing service and funds,” said Mary Knight, past president and the communications chair for the Quaboag Valley club. “We decided we needed to do something locally.”

Knight said the fundraiser helps to raise awareness about issues affecting women and children that are often not spoken about, such as domestic violence, mental illness, bullying, depression, and suicide.

“We want to raise funds for agencies that work with victims, directing it to where it’s needed most,” she said. “A lot of times, they have to abide by their funders in terms of where the funding is used. We want to raise funds for any unmet needs.”

The event will include about 60 to 100 items up for bid, all donated by Zonta Club members, Zonta supporters and local businesses. They are valued at $25 up to $500. They include themed baskets, services, getaways, and tickets to box seats at the Saratoga horse races.

“The admission cost of $30 pays for the entire meal and all other expenses, so the auction profits go directly to the agencies,” Knight said.

The event includes an extensive buffet, with pastas, vegetables, a carving station and desserts. There will be a cash bar.

“The venue is just amazing,” Knight said. “The Ludlow Country Club is not only a beautiful setting, but it’s easy to get to, right off the Mass Pike.”

About one-third of the funds raised through the Zonta Club’s fundraisers go to Zonta International and projects it picks to raise the status of women and children around the world.

This year, one-third of the funds will also go to “Soldier On Women Veterans,” an organization the local club has worked with for a few years. Club members work with veterans who are homeless or have been through trauma and are in need of additional support.

“We do things with them every month, as well as raise money to fund projects to help them succeed in moving on to a better life,” Knight said. “We have donated to them for the past two or three years.”

The final third of money raised will go to the Carson Center for Human Services’ domestic violence program.

“We know that domestic violence, especially in the Quaboag Valley, is quite high, and the resources for women and children are not easy to get to,” Knight said. “People are scattered around a very large area in the Quaboag Valley. The Carson Center for Human Services is doing a great job working with the Ware Police Department and domestic violence task forces, but the funding (can be) very restrictive. They can only work in certain areas of the Quaboag Valley, and when they get calls from other areas, sometimes they can’t help those people.”

Representatives from each of the organizations will be on hand with information and materials about what they do.

Past recipients of funds include Bridges Inc., Tri-County Domestic Violence Task Force, Womanshelter Companeras and WestMass ElderCare.

Knight said it should be a fun event.

“It’s just before Mother’s Day, and we have some great things people can bid on for mothers, or graduation gifts, or men,” she said. “There’s something for everybody. It will be a really interesting evening.”

The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on May 5, at the Ludlow Country Club. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by contacting Ann Cormier at 413-283-4646 or To learn more about Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley, visit

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