If it weren’t for a financial award from Soroptimist International of Chilliwack, Jaylene Blaine would have struggled to feed her family and pay the mortgage.
Blaine was one of four recipients of last year’s Live Your Dream award, an education and training award provided by Soroptimist International.
“It helped me a lot. (The money) made sure that I could feed and house my kids for the month and a half while I was searching for work,” Blaine said. “It got me through.”
The Live Your Dream awards are handed out to women in the community who are the primary financial providers for their family. They also have to be going to school (not for a masters program).
Blaine is a single parent and the father of her kids is out of the picture. She was in the final year of her social work degree at the University of the Fraser Valley and out of money when she found out about the Live Your Dream awards.
She actually hear about it twice in two weeks - once from a woman in one of her classes, and again in an email from Ann Davis Transition Society. She figured it was a sign, so she applied and submitted a short essay about what she’d gone through and what her goals were in life.
Blaine was the top award recipient last year and received $3,000. She graduated in June and is now a children’s counsellor at Ann Davis.
“It helped me a lot,” she said.
All funds are raised right here in Chilliwack and support women in the community. Money comes from events such as the Pyjamas and Pearls fundraiser.
“What we want to do is help women in our community to achieve the career and the life of their dreams,” said Lori Jackson, chairperson for the Live Your Dream program with Soroptimist International of Chilliwack. “We’re overjoyed to be able to provide these financial awards.”
The local organization has been handing out the Live Your Dream awards for the entire time they’ve been in Chilliwack, which is more than 25 years.
Each year they give about $5,000 in total to Chilliwack women. About $2,500 to $3,000 is given to the first-place recipient, $1,500 to the second-place and nominal awards are handed out to a few other women.
“Is an amazing opportunity to voice the hard work us mamas do to better our futures for our families,” said past recipient Andrianna Peters. “With the support I received I was able to continue with my education with less stress. As all women know how hard it is for us to stay afloat when society gives us challenges and Soroptimist gave me the opportunity to reach even more goals.”
Alysia Whitelock also received a Live Your Dream award.
“I have come so far in the past four years and to get recognized for it has given me even more motivation than I had before,” Whitelock said. “I think it’s amazing to have a group out there specifically created to help empower woman to reach for their goals. This award will help me in many ways, and I am just so thankful.”
This year Soroptimist International of Chilliwack has partnered with Barking Irons Roastery to host a new coffee bean fundraiser. Money from each bag of coffee sold will go towards the Live Your Dream awards, Dream It Be It: Career Support for Girls, and Heather’s Hope Chest.
Their goal is to sell 1,000 bags of coffee. To purchase a bag, go to facebook.com/ChilliwackSoroptimist or contact any member of Chilliwack Soroptimist.
To apply for the Live Your Dream award, go to soroptimist.org. The deadline is Nov. 15.