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May 1, 2017

ZONTA CLUB :: PROMOTING WOMEN’S ISSUES IN FREDERICK AND ABROAD

Women’s rights and opportunities have, in the light of recent political changes, come back to front and center of the public’s viewpoint. If the unparalleled numbers at the Women’s March following the 2016 Inauguration are any indication, women are standing up and being heard to a degree that hasn’t been seen since the Women’s Suffrage movement of the 1920’s or Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960’s. With that atmosphere in the current culture, it’s notable to bring to light, Zonta, an organization here in Frederick, MD that has been promoting women’s issues since 1930.

Zonta Club of Frederick is a chapter of Zonta International, whose official mission statement reads as, “Zonta International is a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.” The organization has taken this mission to 66 different countries across the world, including over 30,000 members. As a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with consultative status at the United Nations, the club is involved in sponsoring numerous international projects, including, among others, focusing on gender inequality in Madagascar, delaying early marriage in Niger, halting human trafficking in Nepal, and providing maternity care to women in Liberia.

Barbara Stastny, DVM, of Frederick, is a longstanding member and current President of the local Zonta chapter. As with most members, she was invited by another member to attend her first meeting. After deciding she liked what the organization stood for and promoted, she has been an active member for the past 17 years and became President this past year.  According to Dr. Stastny, the Frederick Zonta club improves the lives of people in the Frederick area by “providing resources for various organizations and women to pursue their goals.” To that end, they make numerous charitable donations each year and well as providing several scholarships to educational institutions.

Among the charitable donations they have made in this past year are donations to Faith House, Second Chances Garage, Mission of Mercy, and the Frederick Asian American Center. By providing funds and support to multiple local charities, the group is better able to touch the lives of Frederick County community members on a broader scale. Each organization they support touches the community in a different way, but always to the betterment of women in need. Faith House provides shelter and support for homeless women and young children while helping them establish a plan for personal development and independence.  Second Chances Garage provides inexpensive (generally donated) vehicles and vehicle repairs to low income families – a necessity for most families to ensure employment and care for their family. Mission of Mercy provides free healthcare, dental care, and prescription drugs to families who are uninsured, underinsured, or for various financial or personal reasons are unable to afford healthcare otherwise. And the Frederick Asian American Center provides various services to lower income minority or immigrant groups to ensure they have access to basic health necessities including healthcare, insurance, housing and health education. Charities receiving donations from Zonta change from year to year, but always fall into a category that provides support to local women and families.

Zonta also contributes funds towards scholarships, on a local and district level. Many of these same scholarships are available on a national level as well. To local high school girls and young women, they provide the Young Women in Public Affairs scholarship, available to women 16-19 interested in pursuing a career in the Public Affairs field. To young women in college, they make available the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship, awarded to women studying business at an undergraduate level. Through Frederick Community College specifically, they make available the Zonta Club Women’s Scholarship available to Hartly House program participants and the Helen Smith Art Merit Scholarships. And through the international organization, the Amelia Earhart Fellowship is awarded annually to women pursing PH.D.’s in aerospace related fields. For more information on how to apply for scholarship programs, visit the Zonta webpage and the Frederick Community College webpage.

All of these charitable donations and scholarships are funded by numerous fundraisers throughout the year such as Frederick savings coupon book sales and donated art sales. The largest portion of funds, however, is raised at their annual Dinner & Silent Auction held in the fall. The 2016 Fundraiser was held at Dutch’s Daughter with a wine centered theme of “Raise A Glass To Zonta!” The 2017 fundraiser will be held on October 23rd. For more information on upcoming fundraisers, to purchase a ticket, or to make a donation, you can contact Barbara Stastny at barbopvc@aol.com or phone at 301-639-9120.

Membership in Zonta has been traditionally been by invitation and limited to women in leadership positions or who own their own business. In recent years, however, that membership criteria has expanded slightly. Current membership in the Frederick Chapter is at 15 members and they are always open to other civic minded community members to join their group through application. Men are now welcome to apply, realizing that the goals of Zonta are centered on womens issues. Women or men in decision making careers or positions within the community, while not necessarily a business owner, also are welcomed to apply. They meet on the 2nd Monday of each month. If you are interested in attending a meeting or discussing membership, you can contact Barbara Stastny. For more information online, the international website can be reached at www.zonta.org and the local chapter at www.zontafrederick.com.

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BY LAURA L. LUCAS

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