Soroptomists award $6,000 to three

From left, Juliet Mancini, Aimee Gerard and Emily Clizbe were given cash awards for their accomplishments by the Soroptomists International of Fulton and Montgomery counites. (Photo submitted)

JOHNSTOWN — On Feb. 22, Soroptimist International of Fulton and Montgomery counties disbursed $6,000 in cash awards among three young women from the two-county area. The organization, led by President Cindy Rivera, held its youth and women’s annual award meeting at The Holiday Inn in Johnstown.

The Youth and Scholarship Committee, led by Chairperson Traci DiMezza, conducted the awards segment of the program. Committee members Lena Andersson and Patricia Hoye assisted in the presentation of the awards.

Andersson presented the Youth Citizenship Award to Emily Clizbe of Johnstown High School. The award recognizes the outstanding contributions made by young people to home, school, community, country, and the world. Andersson related that Clizbe demonstrates “commitment to family life.” Clizbe’s application was supported by information provided by her geometry teacher, Jamie Kohout, who related Clizbe “was willing to help others when she saw a classmate struggling and that two of her most marked qualities are ‘her compassion and thoughtfulness.’”

Clizbe has served on the Student Council as secretary since her freshman year at Johnstown High School. According to Kohout, Clizbe “helps out with almost every fundraising event put on by [her] class, whether it be working concession stands, donating food items, selling tickets.” She is also active in the International Club, works blood drives, donates blood, and plays varsity lacrosse, all while making the high honor rolls.

Andersson further related that Clizbe is active in the Hugh O’Brien Youth, an organization that seeks to “inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.” In 2015, Clizbe participated in the HOBY Community Leadership workshop, including a leadership conference trial, where participants develop their leadership skills and “interact with local community leaders, participate in group activities, and conduct community service projects.” In 2016, Clizbe built on her experience by attending a 3-day HOBY leadership conference.

Clizbe is also active in her local community and assists at her church, Broadalbin First Presbyterian.

“Since 2011, Emily has delivered Christmas and Thanksgiving meals to those in need and serves meals at her church. Since 2014, Emily has been an active participant in her church’s participation in Rise Against Hunger, whose mission is to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.”

Because she believes so strongly in this mission, Clizbe organized a service project with Rise Against Hunger where she was responsible for organizing 40 to 50 volunteers to package more than 10,000 meals that were sent all over the world. Clizbe dedicated the Youth Citizenship Award money to this project.

“[Clizbe] has traveled to Germany with the People to People organization, whose mission is to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures.”

While in Germany, Clizbe helped paint picnic tables and fences for a hospital.

Andersson concluded, “Emily’s plans for her future will be a natural continuation of her compassion and active work to make the world a better place. She plans on becoming a pediatrician.”

The Violet Richardson Award, which is given in recognition of young women who make the community and world a better place, was presented to Juliet Mancini by Soroptimist member, Pattie Hoye.

Mancini is a senior at Fonda-Fultonville High School, and is “a well-rounded individual involved in both her school and community. She considers her volunteering a responsibility to better the lives of others. She has a true passion for service,” Hoye said.

Hoye added that Mancini is a volunteer with the Global Federations Women’s Club, Juniorettes of the Century Club and has been involved in many worthwhile service projects including supporting domestic violence awareness and prevention, by helping local shelters, veterans and the Montgomery County SPCA. Mancini also participates in Operation Smile, an international medical charity that she says has made an impact on her.

Mancini attended the Operation Smile International Student Leadership Conference in California in 2015, which led her to form the Operation Smile Adirondack Area Club. Mancini recruited members and coordinated fundraising projects, raising awareness of the mission of Operation Smile.

Mancini also volunteers at the Shrine of St. Kateri Tekakwitha and at the Empire State Aeroscience Museum.

“Juliet believes these experiences have helped her learn the importance of utilizing her intelligence and passion for history to have a beneficial impact on society,” Hoye said. “Juliet is a member of her school’s National Honor Society, holding the position of vice president for two years, is a yearbook club member, active at weekly meetings, preparing and presenting speeches, taking photographs and helping to design yearbook pages.”

Mancini also attended a summer session in 2016 at SUNY Albany.

Soroptimist member, Traci DiMezza presented the Soroptimist Live Your Dream award to Aime Gerard.

DiMezza described Gerard as “single mother of three young girls (who) candidly admits that the past year has been the hardest and most difficult of her life.”

Raising three children alone, yet determined to advance her education, Gerard enrolled in FMCC’s health studies program, with the goal of becoming a radiologist.

DiMezza said Gerard became ill in the fall of 2015; multiple diagnoses and medical treatments have continued since then, rendering her unable to work any longer and finding herself dependent on the modest resources available to her.

“Aimee says her children remain her biggest inspiration, raising them, staying enrolled in college, attending classes — all while fighting her disease,” said DiMezza.

She conveyed that the Live Your Dream award allows Soroptimist Clubs to provide some financial relief to women like Gerard, who are “smart, strong, fearless women” who face seemingly insurmountable circumstances yet strive to make life better for themselves and their children.

Soroptimist International of Fulton / Montgomery Counties, Inc. has been a chapter of Soroptimist International of the Americas for more than 60 years; the mission of the organization is to improve the lives of women and girls in their local communities and throughout the world. Anyone interested in learning more about the Soroptimist mission and its programs may visit The Fulton County chapter may be contacted at SIFC, PO Box 168, Gloversville, NY or by contacting President Cindy Rivera or Public Relations Chair, Sandy Peters at (518) 725-8861.

By Patricia Older

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