Soroptimists hand out awards

Pictured, from left, are an assistant at Haven of Hope Farms (unnamed); Patricia Brookings, the Ruby Award recipient; and Cindy Close, president of Soroptimist International of Fulton and Montgomery County. (Photo submitted)

MAYFIELD — Two women were given awards at the May meeting of the Soroptimist International of Fulton and Montgomery County at Lanzi’s on the Lake Restaurant.

Patricia Brookings, founder and director of Haven of Hope Farm in Fonda was given the Ruby Award by club president Cindy Close for “making extraordinary efforts on behalf of other women. The recipient is someone who has worked to improve the lives of women and girls and has had a significant impact on the lives of women and girls,” according to a news release.

Barb King, a 13-year Soroptimist member, received the Woman of Distinction Award from Ruth Drake, membership committee chairwoman. Drake said “she’s [King] one of us who seems to have something to contribute at every meeting…is an independent and accomplished woman” devoted to her husband (and family) and has “demonstrated her character, integrity, and leadership in everything she has done for SIFMC.”

Drake presented service awards to members. Those present were Laurie Agee for 20 years, Lana Ruggiero for 20 years, Drue Wallach for 35 years, Virginia M. Mackey for 35 years, Elaine Pickard for 40 years. Also named but not present were Arlene Sitterly for her 55 years as a member and Lisa Queeney for 25 years. Drake also reached 15 years as a member.

Lexi Swatt, Miss Montgomery County, was inducted as a Soroptimist member.

Shown, from left, are Barb King, the Woman of Distinction Award winner from Soroptimist International of Fulton and Montgomery County, and Ruth Drake, Soroptimist chapter membership chairwoman.

Guest speakers Keegan Burke and Brianna Phillips spoke to SIFMC members about the CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services Drop-In Center in Gloversville. Burke expressed gratitude for the club’s recent donation of $2,500 and told how the center, open every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at First Congregational United Church of Christ welcomes youths between the ages of 13 and 24 to come to receive a hot meal, do their laundry, take a shower, meet with a case manager, receive clothes and hygiene products and engage with supportive adults. “They are all living in poverty, some without the support of partners or family,” she said.

Close related how Brookings had purchased property, formerly known as the Jaffe Farm, in 2012, where she took on homelessness by housing families and individuals from shelters, motels and other places, directly into apartments at the farm, which she registered as Haven of Hope Farm and Residence. Now in its seventh year as a non-profit organization, the Haven “provide(s) transitional housing to homeless women in Fulton and Montgomery counties” with a vision to build “a community where chronic homelessness and the resulting family separations no longer exist,” Close said.

Drake said King has been head of the membership committee, has worked “tirelessly to chair the kitchen committee for the annual SIFMC craft fair, has enthusiastically attended Soroptimist conferences, and “(m)ost recently, …took on the leadership of the ‘Dream It, Be It’ program for our club.”

Drake added that King had faithfully served as treasurer of SIFMC for many of the 13 years she has been a member and described King as a “visible and vocal” member, who “never hesitates to show up when her help is needed. King is a special needs teacher at Wells Central School and “an energizer bunny” in her work at the school and in the community, she noted.