Holiday event to honor woman of distinction

This year’s Zonta Club of Springfield’s annual holiday auction will be an event of firsts.

The event will at 6 p.m. today at the Courtyard by Marriott. A local chapter of Zonta International, the group has been quietly working to improve the lives of women and girls in Clark County and around the world for 60 years.

So far, more than 100 people have signed up to attend, and there’s room for more, according to Daragh Porter Wobbe, chairwoman of the auction event committee. Porter Wobbe said men are a growing portion of the crowd and several of the gifts available will appeal to them.

“This used to be primarily a women’s event, but it’s evolving into a fun couple’s night out. We have golf and poker gifts, other gifts for men and items for the entire family. We’re glad more men and couples are joining us and we hope that only continues to grow,” she added.

The auction will also feature Christmas ornaments, pottery, jewelry, artwork and a variety of baskets and event packages.

“The range of gifts is wide,” Porter Wobbe said.

The group will also give its inaugural Woman of Distinction Award. Mel Marsh, member of the auction planning committee, said the group selected retiring Clark State Community College President Karen Rafinski because she is a trailblazer.

“Not only has she done phenomenal things at Clark State, but also in the community as a whole,” Marsh said.

Zonta generally chooses two local organizations to support for a two-year term. Currently, Zonta supports Project Zonta, a part of Project Jericho that serves at-risk teen girls. The program provides activities that help the girls explore their feelings about their mothers, culminating in a dinner for the moms prepared by their daughters.

On the Rise, a project that takes inner-city youth to an area farm for work, is the second organization currently receiving support. It offers participants the opportunity to be a part of the entire growth cycle of crops and animals.

“It helps them learn responsibility and feel pride in their accomplishments,” Marsh said.

A new initiative for the Springfield chapter is a partnership with the National Museum of the United States Air Force, which will encourage girls to explore careers in aerospace. Still in the development stages, the program will be held at the museum and be educational and interactive.

“Amelia Earhart was a member of Zonta and there is an international fellowship for Ph.D. candidates in aerospace, so we decided to connect the links since we have such a rich history of aerospace in our area,” Marsh said.

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