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District News - Page 2 of 3 - District 11 News
Savannah’s Initiative to Fight Sex Trafficking

The Zonta Club of Savannah and its President, JoAnne Garcia-Melendez, were thanked publicly for their help throughout this Initiative. President Garcia-Melendez remained available 24/7 for 5 months as a resource for the offices of the Georgia Attorney General and the Mayor of Savannah. She and the Zonta members managed picking up and serving meals to law enforcement daily, for each of the 12 Police training classes offered during the week of September 14th. They also handled registration and check-in for the October 26th event, as well as provided refreshments. The Zonta Club of Savannah, in 2008, was the first organization in Savannah to publicly address the issue of Human Trafficking.

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District 11 Celebrates 5 International Award Winners

3 Amelia Earhart Award Winners: Jin Yan from China, studying Industrial Engineering at Florida State University; Puja Upadhyay from Nepal, studying Mechanical Engineering at Florida State University; and Fanny Maud Besem from Belgium, studying Aerodynamics at Duke University.
These ladies were presented their wings in Franklin, NC and Talahassee, FL.

JMK Award Winner: Josepha Segbefia from Ghana, submitted by the Zonta Club of Columbia. Josepha is studying Accounting at Benedict College.

YWPA Award Winner: Anika Yasmin, submitted by the Zonta Club of Key West, is studying Biological Engineering at MIT.


Jin Yan, 2nd 2014 AE fellow at FSU College of Engineering Tallahassee, Florida, with advisor, Dr. Okenwa Okoli, Zontians Lorraine Summers & Pam Ridley and ZCTallahassee President Sooni Raymaker

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Melbourne’s Chocolate Festival

Zonta Club of Melbourne’s Chocolate Festival

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Zonta Club of Tallahassee promotes workplace violence awareness

The Zonta Club of Tallahassee is urging all employers to develop workplace policies against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Karl Etters
Democrat staff writer 

A local chapter of an international women’s organization is urging all employers to develop workplace policies against domestic violence and sexual assault. The Zonta Club of Tallahassee pushed its message on Tuesday, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the federal Violence Against Women Act. Club members were joined by representatives from county and city government, top officials at Florida A&M and Florida State universities and Tallahassee Community College, private sector businesses and the legal community for a discussion about awareness of domestic and workplace violence and options in assisting victims. Sooni Raymaker, Zonta Club of Tallahassee’s president, said Tuesday’s event was about promoting a culture of workplace violence policies and programs to help employees with domestic violence issues.

“As with anything with violence against women, or violence generally against citizens, is becoming more and more prevalent,” Raymaker said. “There are victims of violence they’ve been suffering in silence and this is to raise awareness of that and get them assistance.”

Raymaker added that employees with domestic issues often affect productivity in the workplace through absenteeism, others having to share in work responsibilities and a feeling of insecurity in the workplace. It is estimated that domestic and workplace violence cost U.S. businessesalmost $36 billion annually.

“If there is a workplace that will support a victim of violence, you will have a better return on your productivity, it’s a safer environment and it’s economic security for the victim,” she said.

Domestic and workplace violence is not limited to women, said lawyer Robin Hassler Thompson, who specializes in violence against women issues. “So even though we talk about women being victims,” Thompson said, “we know that men are victims in same-sex relationships and in heterosexual relationships but at a much smaller percentage.”

Thompson said one in three women will become victims of domestic violence and one in five female students will be a victim of rape. With three major institutions and more than 65,000 students in Tallahassee undefined FSU, FAMU and TCC undefined those numbers are alarming, she said.

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare President and CEO Mark O’Bryant said the hospital sees about 125,000 domestic violence cases a year, but few patients seek assistance after their initial visit. The effects of domestic violence can linger and have an effect on quality of life.

“We oftentimes think of the immediate (physical) impact, but there is the whole lingering effect of secondary conditions,” including behavioral, emotional and mental health, O’Bryant said.

“When we talk about domestic violence and the impact that has on emotional health, we need to recognize that we cannot have a high quality of life without embracing this issue and addressing it in a very proactive way,” O’Bryant added.

The Zonta Club is an international women’s organization focused on improving the status of women and girls and holds a seat on the United Nation’s High Commission on the Status of Women.

The Tallahassee chapter has worked with the city and county in developing their workplace violence policies and implementing programs for employees experiencing domestic violence.

The fight to end violence takes the involvement of large community, Raymaker said.

“It’s not just one voice,” she said. “We have 38,000 members so we think advocating change takes an entire community and with that many voices and many more voices joining we can effectuate change.”

“If there is a workplace that will support a victim of violence, you will have a better return on your productivity, it’s a safer environment and it’s economic security for the victim.” 

SOONI RAYMAKER, Zonta Club of Tallahassee

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Dothan Eagle Letter to the Editor

Zonta Club of Dothan fights abuse of women

Letter: Zonta fights abuse of women
Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2014 3:54 am

I would like to commend those involved in the recent conviction of the human trafficking suspect. Until my daughter attended a Passion conference in Atlanta three years ago, I had never heard the term “human trafficking.” While I learned some about it then and though the stories were horrific, I still thought this slavery was a crime mostly perpetrated in large U.S. cities and in other countries. I wanted to believe that surely our lovely community in and around Houston County was not implicated in this tragic epidemic.

Then I joined the Zonta Club of Dothan. As an organization whose mission is to advance the status of women, we give time and resources to serve alongside several local groups that help women and girls as well as to participate in health and advocacy projects directly benefiting females globally through Zonta International (

During a recent community meeting sponsored by LIA Ministries on trafficking, I was shocked out of my rose-colored world to learn that we have opportunities here in the Wiregrass to battle the evil of human trafficking. It is easy to be naïve about this ugly truth; however, recent arrests in Geneva County prove this is happening right here. As my daughter heard at the conference, I pose the question to our citizens, “If you saw human trafficking, would you do anything to end it?” I do see it now, and that’s why I, along with thousands around the world, am convicted, committed, and courageously supporting the “Zonta Says No” campaign to eliminate violence against women–

Obviously, our law enforcement team made sure that justice was swift and firm in Houston County. Hopefully, their tough action sends the message that abuse of girls and women will not be tolerated here.

Sandi Hodge

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Bonita Springs celebrates 20 years!

The Zonta Club of Bonita Springs celebrated its 20th anniversary on July 24, 2014 by inviting the community and supporters to a special anniversary celebration at FineMark National Bank in Bonita Springs. During the evening, a presentation of grants and scholarships also took place.

Chartered in July 1994, the Zonta Club of Bonita Springs continues to impact the lives of women as it begins its 20th year in service to Bonita Springs and the surrounding communities. Today, a young mother and her growing family live in a local Habitat for Humanity “Women Build” home, funded by a $50,000 grant raised by the club and furnished by member donations. The Club Continues support and commitment to Partners for Breast Cancer Care provides free mammograms and cancer care, if needed, for non-insured and under-insured women in Bonita Springs. Members actively participate in both Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure through service hours and monetary support to fight this disease that strikes 1 in every 8 women.
A bilingual (Spanish and English) poster campaign, targeting Violence Against Women, was funded and designed in collaboration with the Shelter for Women and Children in Naples and the Abuse Counseling Center in Fort Myers providing information and a toll free number for help to women as they visited restaurants, businesses, and other community facilities, such as local libraries and community centers. This past spring the local Zonta Club clubs worldwide in an international campaign to Just Say No to Violence against Women worldwide. Partnering with other Area 6 Clubs, thousands of birthing kits were created and distributed to midwives in Guatemala providing a cleaner birthing area in an effort to lower rates of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality. Additionally, more than 15 women have received financial assistance to begin or further their education through the club’s scholarship program over the past 20 years.

There is also a chance you may have seen Club members at any of the City of Bonita events and celebrations as the club has participated in the Bed Races and 4th of July parade and volunteers numerous service hours to city events like Celebrate Bonita, the Cupcake Wars, and Keep the Beautiful in Bonita.

Since 1998, the Club has selected a Woman of the Year from community nominations of women who are well known for their philanthropic and service contributions to improve the local community. Former recipients have all played key leadership roles in local charitable organizations and foundations or may have worked tirelessly on women’s issues that represent the heart of the Club’s mission; to improve the circumstances of women at all stages of life, both locally and globally.

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Congratulations Boca Raton Golden Z Club

Congratulations to Palm Beach State College Golden Z Club, sponsored by the Zonta Club of Boca Raton, for achieving 2nd place for the 2014 Emma L. Conlon Service Awards.

DATE:                        10 June 2014

TO:                 Zonta International Board

FROM:            Lori Robinson, Z and Golden Z Club Committee Chairman

SUBJECT:     2014 Emma L. Conlon Service Award Recipients

CC:                 Zonta International Committee Chairmen, 2012-2014 and 2014-2016 Governors and Region South America Representatives, Z and Golden Z Club Committee Members and Zonta International Staff

I am pleased to announce the six recipients for the 2014 Emma L. Conlon Service Awards:

Award Place Golden Z Club Sponsoring Zonta Club District Award Amount
1st St. Michael’s College Golden Z Club Zonta Club of Laguna, Philippines 17 $ 1,000
2nd Palm Beach State College Golden Z Club Zonta Club of Boca Raton, USA 11 $    500
3rd Hong Kong University Student’s Union Golden Z Club Zonta Club of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 17 $    250


Award Place Z Club Sponsoring Zonta Club District Award Amount
1st Z Club of Laguna Zonta Club of Laguna, Philippines 17 $ 1,000
2nd Laramie High School Z Club Zonta Club of Laramie, USA 12 $    500
3rd St. Augustine Z Club Zonta Club of Brampton-Caledon, Canada 4 $    250

Twelve applications were received from Z clubs and five applications from Golden Z clubs for the 2014 competition. Six awards will be given as listed above.

The six Emma L. Conlon Service Award recipients’ service projects will be posted on the Zonta International website by the end of July.

Thank you for all your help in promoting the Zonta International Emma L. Conlon Service Award Program.  If you have any questions regarding this program, please feel free to contact me or Martina Gamboa at Zonta Headquarters.

With kind regards,

Lori Robinson

Z and Golden Z Club Committee Chairman

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District 11 candidate wins 2014 Young Women in Public Affairs Award

Anika Yasmin, nominated by the Zonta Club of Key West, is one of 10 winners of the 2014 YWPA Award!

Here is the announcement:

Dear Zonta International Board, International Committee Chairmen,  Governors and Region South America Representative:

Upon the recommendation of the Zonta International YWPA Award Committee, the Zonta International Board approved 32 YWPA district and Region South America recipients and 10 international recipients for the 2014 Young Women in Public Affairs Awards, as listed on the following page.

Thirty–two exceptional applicants from 17 countries were considered in the final selection for the 10 US$4,000 international awards. We can be proud of these very outstanding young women and the commitment of our clubs to the YWPA Award!

Thank you for all your help in promoting Zonta International and its Young Women in Public Affairs Award Program.

Application materials for next year and biographical descriptions of the 2014 international recipients will be available on the Zonta International website at a later date.

With kind regards,

Ute Scholz

International YWPA Award Committee Chairman


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ZI 2014 AE fellows at May 2014 ZCT luncheon

2 Florida State University engineering students and 2014 AE fellowship winners were guestsnat our Tallahassee Club May lunch meeting.  Jin Yan(District 11) from China and Puja Upadhyay (District 25)from Nepal

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Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva installs new officers

Members of the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva gathered recently at the home of Linda Robison, club member and Zonta Area 6 Director, where Robison formally installed the leadership for the club year 2014-2015, which begins June 1.

During the past year, the club has moved to combine two boards – that of the club and that of the Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida, the club’s 501(c)(3) – for simpler administration and record-keeping.  For the first time, the members of the club board (most of the officers plus the members-at-large) will also function as the Foundation board, with the exception of the positions of secretary and treasurer, which are each unique to that board.  A seat on the Foundation board is also reserved for a representative from the Zonta Club of Fort Myers.

Incoming President Robyn Moran presented outgoing President Kris Ritts with an etched vase by Luc Century, and commented humorously that, with the hard work of merging the boards behind them, Zontians can look forward to a year “with nothing to do.”  For this busy and award-winning club that raised over $100,000 from its recent fundraiser, A Peek at the Unique, that is the least likely of all outcomes.

Pictured are (rear, from L):  Robyn Moran, President; Lynn Ridlehoover, Vice President; Kris Ritts, club Treasurer and club Past President, ex officio; Barbara Beran; Carol Gestwicki, Jill Janda-Kanner, Area 6 director Linda Robison, and Karen Storjohann (Foundation Past President, ex officio).

Front (from L):  Susan Tucker (Foundation Treasurer); Gini Jones (President-elect); Dalia Jakubauskas; Ruth Mayer; and Maddy Mayor (Foundation Secretary).

Not pictured:  Ava Hinojosa (club Secretary); Helen Ramsey; and Marietta Meacham (Foundation board, Zonta Club of Fort Myers.

The Zonta Club of Sanibel/Captiva is a service organization of professional women working together to provide hands-on assistance, advocacy and funds to strengthen women’s lives on the islands, in Lee County and around the world through Zonta International:  visit

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