On Wednesday, Soroptimist International of Davis honored two Davis teens for their volunteer service to the community. At a luncheon at the Odd Fellows Hall, the women’s service organization presented Violet Richardson Awards to Asha Byrd and Lauren Owens, both 17-year-olds from Davis.
Byrd is a senior at Davis High School. In 2010, she created her own organization, Active Youth for Education, to bring life skills to disadvantaged families. She set up nearly a dozen educational classes for the Family Transitional Housing Program run by Davis Community Meals. Topics include fire safety, nutrition and job skills. She recruits local professionals to give presentations at the classes.
In her award application, Byrd wrote: “I come away from each seminar with a greater respect for education, and our responsibility to those who have not been given the same privileges in life. The feeling of joy I received through volunteering is almost indescribable.”
Owens is a junior at Da Vinci Charter Academy. She is an intern for Youth Leadership Institute, a nondenominational group sponsored by Davis Community Church. It creates awareness about poverty and homelessness through hands-on experience and education. The teens help manage the Interfaith Rotating Shelter. Owens likes checking in guests and helping cooking meals.
For a school project, Owens wrote, illustrated and produced a homeless awareness video, in the form of a narrated comic book. It chronicled the fictional town of Sunnyville, whose residents mistreated local transients.
In her award application, Owens wrote about dealing with the guests at the Davis shelter: “I can’t change their lives, but I can change their day; knowing that fills my heart.”
Byrd’s and Owens’ applications were forwarded to the Sierra Nevada Region of Soroptimist International, to compete against other club winners in Northern California and Nevada.
The Violet Richardson Award is named after Soroptimist International’s first president, whose motto was, “It is what you do that counts.” It recognizes young women ages 14-17 who volunteer in their community or school. Although both girls are active in many activities, the grants honor a specific project that demonstrates their skills as young prodigies for the kind of work Soroptimists hold dear.
SI Davis meets at noon on Wednesdays at Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St. in downtown Davis. The international organization supports programs that improve the lives of women and children.