TRUCKEE, Calif. — Soroptimist International of Truckee-Donner presented the Violet Richard Award (VRA) to two Madison Richey and Stevynn Laine on March 13 at Zano’s Family Restaurant in Truckee.
Richey, a 17-year-old Truckee High School senior received $600. Runner-up Stevynn Laine, an 18-year old Truckee High School senior, received a $400 cash award. Additionally, a charity of the young women’s choice will also receive a matching award.
The VRA honors young women for volunteer action.
MAKE AN IMPACT
Madison Richey is passionate about volunteering with organizations that have an influence in the local, national and global arenas. She has been an active volunteer for the Envirolution Club the last three years. Through Envirolution, Madison is working to educate current and future generations about environmental conservation and sustainability.
She mentors satellite clubs, the Green Teams, at three local elementary schools. As the current club president, she is working to establish an Eco-Action Club at Alder Creek Middle School. Madison has volunteered through Tahoe Forest Church to feed the homeless in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District; assisted and volunteered at los Ninos de la Promesa Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico; and spent a summer working with children in Ecuador through Amigos de las America, incorporating lessons about children’s rights, respect for women, health rights, voting responsibilities, and leadership.
Through her volunteer activities, Richey has developed leadership and teaching skills, made “irreplaceable relationships with [her] host family and community members,” advocated environmental sustainability to a broad generation of audiences, and increased her fluency in Spanish.
Richey’s goal is to make an impact on the developing world around her, and each new volunteer experience serves to strengthen her resolve and passion to “devote [her] life to solving many of the issues that envelop our planet, whether it be environmental, social, or cultural reform.” Madison chose to award the Envirolution Club with the $600 award. Madison’s Violet Richardson Award application will now advance to the Soroptimist Sierra Nevada Region level, where a $1,000 Violet Richardson Award recipient will be selected.
At that level, an additional $1,000 will be contributed in honor of the recipient to her volunteer organization. The program culminates at the national level with a $2,500 award to the finalist’s volunteer organization.
Stevynn Laine believes it is “easy to identify a problem,” but she wants to be the person who does something about it.
This year Laine was honored with the VRA for work in creating Radiance, a support group for teens.
In 2013, Laine was profoundly affected by the loss of a close friend. Laine, her friends, and her peers were confused — reeling with pain and grief.
Although the high school provided counseling and support, it was ineffective for her.
Laine started a small support group hoping to address the loss in a more personal way. The atmosphere of this new group helped teens open up and express themselves. One goal of the Radiance group was to address the prevalence of teen suicide in the Truckee community.
After the group members became more comfortable, and began to talk, Laine noticed members “confused life’s ‘inconveniences’ with actual ‘tragedies.’”
Laine wanted to help group members differentiate between the two and help teenage friends put life’s challenges in a healthy perspective. The Radiance group began to grow and established an overall “goal of changing teens” perspectives on the challenges they will inevitably face in life, and providing them with “tools to deal with such obstacles.”
Supported and mentored by the Tahoe Truckee Youth Suicide Task Force, the group now meets biweekly, provides workshops, and often invites speakers with an expertise in physical and mental health.
Stevynn has become passionate about advancements in mental health.
She is volunteering at the Truckee High School Wellness Center and is a teen advocate for the “What’s up? Wellness checkups.” She speaks at various local clubs and classrooms about what the Radiance club is doing and the importance of mental health screenings and assistance when needed.
Stevynn also volunteers through YoungLife, and is a teaching and tutoring volunteer at Truckee Elementary School.
The Soroptimist’s Violet Richardson Award program was created in 2000 as a way to recognize girls for their volunteer service to their communities. The program honors young women between the ages of 14 and 17 whose volunteer efforts include helping other disadvantaged girls; fighting drugs, crime and violence; cleaning up the environment; and working to end discrimination and poverty.
Soroptimist International of Truckee-Donner is a volunteer service organization founded by professional women dedicated to creating opportunities that improve the quality of life in the community and throughout the world with an emphasis on women and girls.