Women of Vision Lends a Local Hand
Women of Vision is more than about financial giving or advocacy. We are also about serving in our local communities – making a difference right where we live. As women who care for others and seek to follow Christ in every aspect of our lives, Women of Vision groups often form strong relationships with local service projects. Today Vicki Ronaldson from the Women of Vision Orange County (WOVOC) chapter shares about her experience working with Shalimar Learning Center.
A joyful group of students and their families joined Shalimar Learning Center (SLC) staff, mentors and local leaders from WOVOC and THINK Together to celebrate last Friday at St. Andrews Presbyterian, breaking bread and presenting scholarships to local high school Shalimar graduates. Shalimar celebrates 21 years in a low-income (and gang challenged) part of Costa Mesa, providing after-school tutoring and mentoring to local kids of all ages in a safe, caring environment. Since start-up, more than 400 students entered college, and in the last 8 years, 100% of Shalimar graduates applied to college. A hundred students who have passed thru the SLC and completed their four years of college are working in fields that include architecture, medicine, engineering, and broadcasting.
Randy Barth (the visionary founder of Shalimar, partnering with WOVOC and St. Andrews Presbyterian Church) MC’d the happy evening. Randy is president of THINK Together, a Santa Ana-based non-profit that works with 400 schools and communities in California to supplement K-12 teaching year round, reaching more than 100,000 students. Randy’s new book, THINK Together, was just released. Assisting with presentations: Don Ronaldson and WOVOC members Susan Anderson, Bobbi Dauderman and Judy Bergman. Harvard bound Jose Avonce spoke for the group of 15 graduates, sharing his experience of straddling two cultures, growing up on Shalimar Drive in a rough area, attending SLC and being effectively encouraged to stay focused. All four 2015 scholarship students have moving stories of challenges overcome.
Friday night was personally meaningful to me. As a WOV member, I again witnessed how WOV changes lives. Through 21 years of partnership, WOV has provided steady financial support and volunteer service to Shalimar Learning Center and THINK Together. Following the example of a dear friend’s tutoring experience at Shalimar and listening to 20 years of her joy in making a local, personal effort to improve education, my husband Don recently joined the Shalimar tutoring ranks and has been delighted both by the students and a chance to contribute to their success. The once-tiny Shalimar apartment program has had a big impact on the state of California–a community education model that bears repeating on a national level.