Loomis Soroptimist Awards Invest in Education


Students, teachers, and community leaders have received awards from the Loomis International Basin of Sisters of Charity for providing women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

Access to education and training to achieve economic empowerment

Loomis, Calif. — The Loomis Basin International Sisters of Charity (SI) distributed nearly $10,000 in educational awards on February 15 so that women and girls will have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams. love is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

Three women have received SI Live Your Dream awards that help women overcome obstacles such as abuse, addiction, and financial hardship to further their education and build careers that will support their families.


Jessica Burrell, MD, a Rocklin resident and Sisters of Charity MD, “Live Your Dreams” recipient, is in the Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Program at American River College. “I decided to go back to school to better understand my four-year-old son who was diagnosed with a speech disorder and autism,” Burrell said. “I want to help other kids like him.”


Cecilia Mills, a mother of two from Lincoln, advocates for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. “My goal is to become a trauma therapist and help these survivors heal and achieve their highest potential,” said Mills, a recipient of the Sisters of Charity Live Your Dream. She is studying psychology at Southern New Hampshire University.


Former foster child Breanna Thompson of Auburn is attending Sierra College She says she wants to be the first in her family to complete a university degree. The award-winning Soroptimist Live Your Dream explained that the career exploration course put her on a path toward a career in nursing. “I want my one-year-old daughter to see me do it and realize she can, too,” said Thompson.

Del Oro High School students April Thibodeau, Abby Galliotto, and Maddie Jackson
Del Oro High School students April Thibodeau, Abby Galliotto, and Maddie Jackson

Ruby Award

Mindy Muhlenbrock, President of Shine with Purpose, received the Soroptimist Ruby Award for Women Helping Women. Sisters expert Becky Fodrey explains that her nonprofit’s mission is to inspire families to shine by connecting volunteers to community projects, such as cooking for seniors at the Life Center, providing school supplies, feeding the homeless, and cheering for moms in shelters. “Mindy has a passion for drawing the rest of us into her goal of supporting the community through service and kindness,” Fodry said.

The Loomis Soroptimist Club presented Invest in Dreams awards to three Del Oro High School students who are leaders in community service.

Dream Award

During COVID, Investing in Dreams awardee Abbey Galiotto has repurposed donated Chromebooks by wiping data and downloading software so disadvantaged youth can attend school online. Worked with Stone Soup PDX to help people at risk of homelessness and through Pivotal to supply Chromebooks for youth care. Plan to major in psychology at university.

As president of the Del Oro Women’s Athletic Club, Maddie Jackson facilitated CARE nights about the potential dangers of college life and introduced students weekly to amazing women from around the world. She led the dance team to overcome challenges with team building and the slogan, “Show up, Show Out”. An Investing in Dreams award recipient will be recruited for the National Dance Association while preparing to become a teacher.

Dream Investment Award

Award-winning Soroptimist Investing in Dreams, April Thibodeau, started a small company and now wants to make a bigger impact as an environmental engineer. She first made posters encouraging students to clean up the Cafeteria dell’Oro. To enlist the support of her peers, she became co-chair of the Student Action Club. Students cleaned up on campus and in town, collected trash from homeless camps and supported food banks with Loomis Community Garden products.

Education Scholarship for Sisters of Charity

Members of the “Loomis Basin” of the Sisters of Charity have provided the Greater LIFE Center in Loomis with a Sisters of Charity education grant to fund art, music, and exercise teachers. In 1978, the Sisters Club established the Senior Citizens Center to provide meals as well as social and educational activities.

Teacher grants

The club has also provided 15 teacher scholarships to the Sisters of Charity to fund special projects that will have a lasting impact on students in the Loomis Union School District.

Laurie Kelly and Jenny Portillo, both a fifth-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary, will purchase their colored pencils, slim markers and paintbrushes through a teacher’s grant to the Sisters of Charity. Students will use these supplies to illustrate maps, math lessons, science packages, and art projects.

at H. Clark Powers Elementary School, Teacher Healy Crosta Plan to use stencils, magnetic tiles, and other tools to help transitional kindergartners build fine motor skills, identify numbers and letters, and learn about animal environments. Grade 2 teacher Gina Green will purchase oil pastels to introduce “a new and exciting art medium that will add bright, vibrant colors to their masterpieces.” The grant will allow Grade 2 teacher Elizabeth McCall to use manipulation aids such as the Spelligator, word sliders, money bingo and surprise circle to engage students. McCall says the hands-on activities will support students in reaching math, language, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) grade standards.

Loomis Grammar School Kindergarten Teacher Brian Bacharach The Soroptimist Scholarship will invest in 10 LCD whiteboards for students to practice sight words. Jodi Serrano, TK-8’s grade 8 music teacher, expects to add a guitar to the classroom to accompany students’ vocal and instrumental music. Grade 2 teacher Rachel Sherhol will use the grant to add social-emotional learning (SEL) dictionaries, books, and flexi-seats to her classroom library. Loomis Grammar School TK-8 physical education teacher Owen Zilsdorf sought the grant to add a variety of colors and sizes of cones that could be used to keep students safe and organized during activities.

Christine Clark, a Loomis Basin Charter School K-8 teacher, will purchase books for third and fifth graders to participate in the second year of a nationwide “Battle of the Books”. To meet the needs of 115 students at various reading levels, Loomis Basin Charter 7th/8th grade teacher, Melissa Patrick, piloted an interactive computer-based program that allows the teacher to assign specific lessons to individual students. The scholarship will fund Nearpod’s full license so Patrick can continue to personalize lessons and improve students’ reading skills, which is essential to educational and professional success.

Jennifer Micheler, librarianOphir STEAM Academy will purchase early chapter books for students reading in grades 2-3 with a Sisters of Charity Teacher Scholarship. The books will increase the skill level of 1st and 4th graders and help them transition to books for regular classes.

Samantha Randall, second grade teacherPenryn Elementary School wants to provide more flexible seating in its classroom to meet the needs of students by allowing more movement and options during learning. Similarly, kindergarten teacher Jessica Ryder will use the grant to create a learning space that welcomes and enhances all learning styles by providing flexible seating including rocker benches, beanbag chairs, rocking benches, and reading cushions.

Elizabeth Magleby, Grade 4 and 8 Special Day Class Teacher (SDC)Placer Elementary School, Inc., intends to use the teacher’s scholarship for STEM-loving sisters toward funds that encourage creative engineering. Students can participate individually or in teams using creative thinking to build structures.

Soroptimist International Loomis Basin collects donations throughout the year to support the awards program and other educational projects that lead to women’s economic empowerment. The next fundraiser is Tostada Bingo on May 13th.

To learn more about the club, go to https://www.soroptimistloomis.com


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