Soroptimist International of
Grosse Pointe (SIGP)
Days For Girls meet regularly and encourage new volunteers to join.
Days for Girls began in 2008 when Founder and CEO Celeste Mergens was working with a family foundation in Kenya when she began assisting an orphanage in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. In the wake of historic post-election violence, the population at the orphanage had swelled from 400 children to 1,400.
As she was getting prepared to return to Nairobi, Celeste went to bed with the devastating situation weighing heavy on her mind. In the middle of the night she woke up with a nagging question: “What are girls doing for feminine hygiene?” She ran to the computer and sent an email to the Assistant Director of the orphanage.
He replied right away. “Nothing. They wait in their rooms.”
Celeste learned that girls were sitting on cardboard for several days each month, often going without food unless someone would bring it to them. This set in motion her first intervention - disposable pads. But Celeste and her team quickly discovered a major problem - without any place to dispose of the pads, this was not a viable or sustainable solution. It was time for plan B: a washable, long lasting pad.
The first Days for Girls Kits were quite different from the design in use today. Each of the 28 iterations that followed would be informed by extensive feedback, and designed to meet unique cultural and environmental conditions in communities throughout the world. What would eventually become clear in the years following Days for Girls’ beginning was just how much of a difference hygiene solutions would make in assisting women and girls to break the cycle of poverty and live lives of dignity.
Today, Days for Girls has reached more than one million women and girls in 116+ countries with DfG Kitsand menstrual health education. This translates into over 115 million days of dignity, health, and opportunity!
Marlene is a graduate student at Sienna Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. She is working towards a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She began her educational journey attending Lansing Community College in the 1990’s but it was not until 2009 when diagnosed with third stage breast cancer that she became serious about obtaining a degree. Other significant changes happened to her in 2009: she lost her job of 20 years due to a merger, her husband left her because he could not deal with the cancer diagnosis and she lost her home due to foreclosure.
This uprooted her and her daughter as they had to move from Mason to Lansing to be closer to treatment. Even with this challenge, she drove her daughter who was a junior in high school back to Mason everyday to attend school! She wanted to set an example “that with love and hard work big obstacles can be overcome”.
In 2011 while going through chemotherapy she obtained an Associates Degree from Lansing Community College. This inspired her to work toward a Bachelors degree at Sienna Heights University that she earned in 2013, the same year her daughter graduated from Central Michigan University! Then taking a “leap of faith” she started her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling that will be completed in August, 2018. She emotionally states that this was only possible with the positive reinforcement of professors and friends.
In summary in Marlene’s words: Choosing the counseling field as a career was driven by my strong desire to help others with their difficulties and to assist them in finding their path. My ultimate goal is to change lives and truly make a difference for those who would otherwise not have a voice. My cancer diagnosis has made me a stronger person and has given me the drive to live, learn, and to assist and educate others.
Not pictured are: Lead: Sandra Mengel
Co-Lead: Mary Garlough
Congratulations to SIGP Live Your Dream (LYD) Award Winner, Sara Mai Baker, who not only won at the Midwestern Regional level, she has now gone on to win the LYD Federation level award. SIA president, Rosemary Reid notified Sara that she won. Midwestern Region Governor, Vivian Walczesky, notified SIGP the fabulous news that Sara had won the award. Since there is not a SIA convention this year, Sara will be presented with the LYD award certificate by Midwestern Region’s Governor, Vivian Walczesky at SIGP’s June business meeting.
WHEN ROSEANNE SPOKE TO SARA SHE WAS LITERALLY IN TEARS. SHE IS SO THANKFUL AND JUST OVERWHELMED BY THIS MONETARY SUPPORT AND THE FACT THAT ALL THESE WOMEN ARE BEHIND HER. SHE REALLY CAN'T BELIEVE IT.
Marlene has also been select as our District III Virginia Wagner Winner..Congratulations!
Jasmyne Robinson was born in Detroit where her first years were challenging, but one thing she remembers is her mom always making the way. Jasmyne attended several different schools growing up and was constantly getting into trouble. She was bulled because she wasn't as "pretty" as the other girls. Once she reached high school she realized she was "pretty" inside and out and this gave her the courage and determination to follow her dreams and graduate from high school and go to college.
Jasmyne is going to school for pre-social work. When she finishes with her degree in social work she would like to get into her field of study. She is ultimately working toward her Bachelor's Degree in social work. When she achieves her Bachelor's Degree she would like to create a non-for-profit program in her community. Her focus is to become a pillar in her community by helping both youth and seniors with all the aid and assistance needed in her community. Within the center will be a safe environment for children to play and learn while their parents are working on duties which need their full and undivided attention.
Our award will help her to achieve these goals and hopefully one day soon open her non-for-profit program in her community.
Co-Lead: Joan Richardson
Kywanna Jefferson is a divorced mom of four children. She married young and divorced 5 years later. Kywanna never thought about attending college until after her fourth child was born. She realized that the jobs she was in allowed her to only "get by financially" raising her children, however, it wasn't satisfying her internal need of making a difference within herself, household, and eventually her community. How could she teach her children to be better people without showing them? She needed to become the change. Kywanna needs her children to see that they don't have to go the same route or follow the blueprint she had laid, they have choices.
Our award will relieve some of her financial burden and allows her to cut back on hours at work to complete an internship to graduate with a Bachelor of Social work at Eastern Michigan University.
Please forward your questions to
Marlane Washington, Ruby Award Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosann Morrow, Co-Chair email@example.com
Virginia Wagner Educational Award honors a woman who is enrolled in a university degree program, i.e., Bachelor, Master or Doctorate program and shows effort toward scholarship and has done volunteer work in the community and/or school and has a financial need. DEADLINE: January 15 of each year.
Please forward your questions, applications and transcripts to
Elizabeth Lucas, Virginia Wagner Chair at
Diana Langlois, Co-Chair at
Live Your Dream honors a woman who is going to school to improve employment opportunities and is head of household, enrolled in a training or educational program and has financial need. You cannot have a college degree and be eligible for LYD.
This is the signature award of Soroptimist International of the Americas. It is awarded to women around the world. Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe is proud to make a difference in the lives of women and girls and to help them Live Their Dream.
Applications may be submitted online through the Soroptimist website between July 1 and November 15 of each year
Please forward your questions to
Kathy Kraydich, Award Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee' Rodriguez at
Many of our winner's have went on to win at the regional level for an additional $5,000
The Ruby Award ..acknowledges a woman who has made a significant difference improving the lives of women and girls. DEAD LINE February 28th, 2019