Zonta Club creates new scholarship for single mothers
Donations to the Zonta Club of Janesville's new Women with a Vision Scholarship program can be mailed to:
-- The Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, 26 S. Jackson St., Janesville, WI 53548-3838.
-- Blackhawk Technical College Foundation, P.O. Box 5009, Janesville, WI 53547-5009.
-- UW-Rock County Foundation, 2909 Kellogg Ave., Janesville, WI 53546.
Members of Janesville's Zonta Club hope their new scholarships for single mothers will have an impact on the community.
"This is bigger than just paying for someone's tuition. We want to support the family and help them with other needs they might have by finding or providing those resources for them to be successful," said Sue Conley of Zonta and executive director of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin.
So, if one of the single mothers has a flat tire, needs a parenting mentor or wants help finding child care, the club's members will help.
Conley said club members in the past year examined what the club was doing and how it was impacting the community.
"We really wanted to have a stronger impact on the community," she said.
The result is the Women with a Vision initiative that provides scholarships for two Rock County single moms—one attending UW-Rock County and one attending Blackhawk Technical College.
Heather O'Donnell, 33, Janesville, is this year's UW-Rock recipient. Nicole Castillo, 26, Beloit, is the Blackhawk Tech recipient. Both are studying nursing.
Each received $5,000 for this school year.
"I was ecstatic, it was overwhelming and unbelievable that people who don't know me are willing to help me,'' O'Donnell said.
"Being a single mother is difficult. I try to make time for my son and still do good in school," she said.
"Knowing I have people behind me took some of the stress off. I'm grateful," she said.
Castillo said she was surprised to receive the scholarship.
"I'm not the type of person to expect things, so I was in shock to get a check to support my goals and inspirations and the opportunity to pursue things I truly love to do," she said.
Castillo saved money for nearly five years so she could return to school, but money was running low because of day care and other expenses for her two children, ages 2 and 6.
"This (scholarship) gave me all my financial aid and allows me to devote time to studying and my family. It just makes life easier. I'm so grateful," she said.
Zonta partnered with the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin and Norm and Carol Aulabaugh, Orfordville, who created a scholarship at the Community Foundation to support the Blackhawk Tech participant of the women's initiative program. Zonta and the UW-Rock County Foundation fund the U-Rock participant scholarship.
"We wanted to do another scholarship and this time for an adult," Norm Aulabaugh said.
The retired professional and his wife, who is a retired teacher, had established another scholarship four years ago for a Parkview High School graduating senior.
The Aulabaughs know those with only a high school education typically get stuck in low-wage jobs and risk living in poverty.
"The Zonta program is designed to help these women secure enough education so they can adequately support themselves and their children. These people are going to be able to get good-paying jobs, and it's going to make a difference in their lives,'' Norm said.
The Aulabaughs have so much confidence in the program they intend to endow the scholarship fund permanently.
"We'd like to make sure its keeps going beyond our lifetime," Norm said.
Zonta wants to bring in more partners and money to grow the new initiative, Conley said, because it brings people together around a common idea to have a bigger impact.