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Soroptimist Club awards $1,000 in scholarships to local women
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Soroptimist club representative Joanne Wondra presents Great Bend High School student Tory Arnberger with an award plaque and a check for $500 as the 2011 recipient of the Violet Richardson Award for volunteering and community service. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

The Soroptimist Club of Great Bend recently awarded two local women with $500 scholarships in recognition of their efforts to better their lives and give back to the community. "There are two different types of scholarships that Soroptimists award each year," said club President Jennie Gordy. "In addition to the many charitable activities our club takes part in each year, this is one of the ways we support local women."

The Violet Richardson Award Program was launched in 2000, and is designed to recognize young women between the ages of 14 and 17 whose volunteer efforts help other disadvantaged girls. Tory Arnberger, currently a senior at Great Bend High School, was chosen as this year’s Violet Richardson award winner. Arnberger is active in National Honor Society, Kayettes, and the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). She also volunteers with the Family Crisis Center and at her church. As the 2011 scholarship recipient, Arnberger received a $500 scholarship. Next year, she plans to attend Fort Hays State University to major in management and marketing.

The other scholarship awarded annually is the Women’s Opportunity Award. This program was launched in 1972, and since then over $25 million has been disbursed worldwide. This year’s local winner was Jo Sawyer, a student at Barton Community College. After much personal adversity, Sawyer is working to turn her life around by receiving a degree in business management leadership. Upon completion of this degree, she plans to continue her education in automotive technology. Sawyer is currently the assistant manager at Arby’s in Great Bend. Sawyer has two children.

Soroptimist is an international organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. "The name, Soroptimist, means ‘best for women’ and that’s what we strive to achieve," Gordy said. "Soroptimists are women at their best, working to help other women to be their best."

For more information about these scholarship award programs or to find out how you can join the local Soroptimist group, e-mail