89 years helping women thrive: Business & Professional Women of Nevada County award scholarships to local women
After the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920, women who had been active in the cause of suffrage often fell away from activism. But not all. In 1919, women in the USA formed Business & Professional Women, a group dedicated to promoting personal and professional development for women in education, economics, employment, health, housing, civil rights, violence, sexual harassment and assault. In 1932, the first local chapter was formed — originally called Grass Valley Business & Professional Women, then changed to Northern Mines Business & Professional Women and, finally, Business & Professional Women of Nevada County.
For 89 years the group has thrived. In 1997, Business & Professional Women of Nevada County developed a scholarship program for re-entry women who are head of household, often survivors of domestic violence with children. There were no proscriptions on the award — in addition to tuition and books, the award can be used for anything that supports a return to school including, gas and childcare. Since that time, the chapter has given over $75,000 in scholarship money.
Throughout the challenge of COVID, Business & Professional Women has stayed active. Even with the challenges that brought, the scholarship board still met, carefully vetted applications and this year, and chose five extremely worthy awardees. A snapshot of each awardee shows an extremely diverse group, all with one goal in mind — to finish college and find work they love. One is the first person in her family to graduate from high school. She has three children, carries a full load of units, and works nights. Another is a survivor of domestic violence with one child whose mother went to law school at age 57. Another is a two-time awardee with two children who recently graduated with honors from Sierra College, earning two degrees in business and has been accepted at Chico State. Another will be graduating from Sierra College in 2022, has her own business and is on the board for the Grass Valley Farmers’ Market; she has one child. The final awardee works full time at Pine Creek Care Center; she plans to enroll in Sacramento State ‘s RN to BSN program. Her dream is to work in the Women and Infant care unit at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity, especially in labor and delivery.
Every one of these women is resilient and caring with fierce intent. In October, they received a total of $6,300 from the chapter. Members of Business & Professional Women encourage winners to stay in touch and reach out if they need help.
Business & Professional Women’s scholarship program has continued to be a path forward for women and will continue to do so in the future. There are two scholarships available: the Helga Rohl Encouragement Award (HREA) for women not enrolled in an academic course but working toward certificates in such areas as X-Ray technician. That award is given on a rolling basis. The Dolores “Dee” Eldridge Scholarship is awarded to those students enrolled in academic courses, who maintain a solid GPA among other requirements and is usually awarded once a year in August. Awards usually range from $500-$2,000.
Members and friends hope to begin meeting again in person next year. Meanwhile, for more information and applications for the scholarships visit http://www.bpwnevadacounty.org
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John Cassidy, the longtime CEO of Sierra Central Credit Union, has announced that he will retire January 15, 2022, ending his 22-year career as CEO of Sierra Central Credit Union.