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Soroptimists Honor Four Local Women

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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 9:00 am

Soroptimist International of Rim of the World honored four local women on Sunday, May 19, at its annual “Making a Difference for Women” luncheon held at the UCLA Conference Center.

The women honored have made a difference in the lives of themselves and others through their inspiration, passion, volunteerism. They have also made significant contributions in their community.

President Nancy Buecheler welcomed everyone at lunch, where guests were treated with a delicious buffet served at the main lodge. After lunch, everyone walked over to Iris, where the award ceremony was held.


Soroptimist Violet Richardson Award

This award is a recognition program for young women between the ages of 14 and 17 who are engaged in volunteer action within their communities or schools. The award is given to those whose activities make their community a better place. Rim High senior, Amber Armellini, was awarded the Violet Richardson award this year.

Armellini’s initiation in the world of community service began in kindergarten when her mother proposed she join the Girl Scouts of America. Since then, she has exceeded over 400 hours of service and earned the Silver and Gold awards, which are the two highest achievements in the Girl Scouts. Those awards recognize girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through Take Action projects, which are projects that have a sustainable impact in the community. She is also active in Interact Club and participated in the Every Girl Counts program.

Additionally, she said she has been a volunteer at the annual Rotary fundraising project and a volunteer at the Mountains Community Hospital long-term ward as she is interested in the medical field. She also volunteers at the Senior Center.

Armellini recognized Mrs. Baldwin and Mrs. Walker as mentors and spoke of her family.

“My family has shaped me into who I am today,” Armellini said.

At the ceremony, Armellini received a $500 cash award. She also got to choose a charity to benefit from a $250 donation. She picked a cancer research foundation.

Going forward, Armellini will be attending UCLA this Fall to study human biology and she is interested in cancer research.


Live Your Dream Award

This award honors and assists women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families while they seek to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.

This year, each award recipient received $750 to offset the costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education. The award was presented to two women this year: Kristin Westenhaver and Emily Brown.

Westenhaver has faced many challenges throughout her life. She is seeking help to complete her GED, finish her Chaplaincy classes and fulfill her dream to serve and help others through education and her pastoral calling.

“I grew up without a father and my mother was on drugs,” Westenhaver said.  “I grew up in a foster home.”

Westenhaver shared that her life changed about 8 years ago and she now has a better sense of direction and life goals.

“The Lord Jesus Christ gave me a new life eight years ago,” Westenhaver said. “My life has been transformed by God and I feel God is with me.”

She also shared that her marriage has been restored. She plans to use this award to get a laptop.

Emily Brown wants to further her education to be a Special Education teacher, so she can improve, inspire and educate future students. Brown is a Rim High graduate and is currently a Special Education Aide.

“I love working with special ed students and it is my goal to become a special ed teacher,” Brown said.

Lauralea Hopper, who introduced Emily, was able to observe how Emily interacts with students during a special classroom visit a couple of years ago. Hopper has known Emily for about 30 years and was very impressed with Emily’s talent and how she deals with special needs students.

“Emily truly has a natural teaching talent,” Hopper said.

Emily is enrolled at Crafton Hills College, has a clear educational goal and is dedicated to her family and daughter.


2019 Soroptimist Ruby Award

This is the highest honor Soroptimist International of Rim of the World can award and it was presented to Karen Reams. The Ruby Award is to honor women who work to improve the lives of women and girls through their professional or volunteer work.

Reams is the general manager of the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District. Her passion is helping and working with children in all kinds of recreational activities. She oversees all of the park facilities, classes and programs at the district, which recently reopened the Lake Gregory Education and Community Center for public use. The Mountain Teen Center, a dance studio, a renovated baseball field, and pickleball and tennis facilities are among the improvements made to the community center.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” Reams said.

Reams shared a story about meeting and comforting a minor passenger during a flight in order to emphasize the importance of one-on-one interaction and conversations.

Reams is an active member of Sunrise Rotary Club and the Government Affairs Committee; she also serves on the Mountain Counseling and Training Board.

Reams received $500 for the charity of her choice.

There have been 59 women in the mountain communities who have been Ruby Award recipients over the past 36 years. The award is named in honor of the first federation president, Ruby Lee Minar.


For more information about Soroptimist International of Rim of the World, visit

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