Zonta Club helps women locally and around the world

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Visitors are constantly looking forward to the Zonta Club of Midland’s annual homewalk, which will take place later this week. With the help of the proceeds from Homewalk, Zonta goes beyond the Midland boundaries to enrich the lives of women around the world.

Zonta International was founded in Buffalo, New York in 1919. Today it has grown into an international organization with over 27,000 members – men and women – in 63 countries.

The Zonta Club of Midland, founded in 1947, currently has 48 members. It is one of 34 clubs in District 15, which includes Michigan and Ontario in Canada.


Every two years, Zonta International makes suggestions for a handful of international service projects to focus on. Currently the four priorities are on the health of adolescent girls in Peru; Strengthening services for victims of gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea; Providing educational opportunities for children at risk in Madagascar; and termination of child marriage. The fourth problem happens to be faced in Michigan.

“Most people don’t know, but Michigan doesn’t have a minimum age to marry,” said Cindy Vickery, Zonta Club of Midlands Homewalk Chair.

According to Vickery’s research, 5,259 minors were married in Michigan between 2010 and 2018, 12 of whom were under the age of 16 are considered “outliers.”

Zonta clubs are fighting these issues by trying to educate themselves and make the public aware of the issues. In addition, the Zonta Club of Midland is working with other organizations in the area to address the issue at the local level. The club worked with Shelterhouse to put together cookie decoration sets for families and donate needed items.

Zonta also works with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) to provide clothing and educational programs, and is partnering with the Michigan Abolitionist Project on an anti-trafficking campaign by providing soap with a human trafficking hotline in hotels and informational stickers in public restrooms distributed. District members have also collected and compiled feminine hygiene kits for homeless shelters in Detroit.

“When we meet as a district, we usually collect something. We’re trying to get things together for a program. ”Vickery said.

The Zonta district level acts as a link between Zonta International and the local clubs.

Every two years the district hosts a conference where members conduct business matters, including electing officers and submitting amendments to the bylaws to Zonta International. The district also provides opportunities for clubs to share ideas and information, and leadership training.

Home for the holidays

The Zonta Club of Midland’s annual homewalk is a highlight of the year as it attracts the attention of Zonta members across the district and is the local club’s largest fundraiser. The homewalk turns 40NS Anniversary this year and welcomes visitors to five private homes that are decorated for the Christmas season. In addition to the personal tours, there will be the opportunity to visit the houses virtually; both options are available with every admission ticket.

To honor the milestone, there will be two homes on the 2021 Homewalk that were unveiled at the opening event, one of which is the home of Kevin and Krista Blaser, 100 Orchard Dr.

The house was built in 1964 by Jackson B. Hallett for Heber Ashmund and his family and is set on 2 acres. The structure incorporates Michigan materials including onaway stone, mahogany, and redwood. Today it is the home of Kevin and Krista Blaser, who have lived there for 12 years.

“It’s one of those properties that is special because you feel like you’re in the forest, but right here in town,” said Krista. “You are isolated, but you are close to everything.”

The highlights of this particular home include an elevated living room with large windows overlooking the property, a newly remodeled colorful kitchen splashback, an elevated study, and a lower level with a pool room and retro bar area with the original stove and refrigerator.

“In this house, the only decoration Ashmun had while decorating was plants. Everything was furniture, natural plants, and maybe a lamp here or a vase there. It was very sparse. I think they thought the architecture of the house was art, ”said Krista.

Holiday accents are old cribs and a model train in the living room, wrapping paper rolls in the sewing / laundry room and a fiberglass tree in almost every room. Village Green Flowers and Gifts added the green for the homewalk.

Krista is honored to see her home on the homewalk as it has been her long-term goal to show off its unique traits.

“I wanted to be able to decorate the house, show it to have some history behind it,” said Krista. “If the walls could speak, they could tell good stories.”

Other stops on this year’s Zonta Homewalk include the following houses: 1227 W. Sugnet, 4200 Berkshire Court, 2385 N. Old Pine Trail, and 2325 N. Deer Valley. Primrose Midland at 5600 Waldo Ave. will be open for refreshments and toilets and will call ticket pickup during personal tour times.

Personal tours take place on Saturday, December 4th and Sunday, December 5th, from 1pm to 5pm. Virtual tours are available from December 4th to December 31st. More information is available at www.zontaclubofmidland.org/homewalk.html.

Tickets are priced at $ 20 in advance, $ 25 at the box office, and are available from any Zonta member, through zontaclubofmidland.org, and from select local retailers. Each ticket gives access to the personal and virtual tours. Access to an online auction with experiences, gifts and decorations is included with every entry. The announcement starts on Saturday, November 27th and ends on Sunday, December 5th at 7pm.

Serve through fellowships and service grants

The proceeds from the homewalk will be used to fund the club’s scholarships and service grants; Scholarships are also complemented by a Midland Area Community Foundation fund. On average, the club was able to offer between five and seven grants of $ 2,500 each.

“In one year for Homewalk, when we raised nearly $ 26,000, we had 10 grants that year,” Vickery said.

Local Zonta clubs focus on improving education through scholarships, especially for those returning to school or pursuing a college degree. The scholarships are also typically awarded to applicants who pursue programs that focus on improving the lives of women and girls.

“Applications vary, but we seem to be getting a lot of applicants in the nursing field because that’s a big field,” said Vickery.

According to Midland’s Zonta member Rebecca Wieland, there used to be smaller grants than service grants. For these type of scholarships, teachers would select students for the leadership training courses and the club would pay the costs. There was also an inland lake scholarship for those interested in biology to get a berth on a ship and spend a week at sea.

“We’d get the names of potential students through the high school science teachers. You would recommend some of the students who would really benefit from this. Of course, that would one day give them an impetus for their further training, they hoped, ”said Wieland.

Over the past few years, the Zonta Club of Midland has awarded approximately 10 charitable grants annually. Territory organizations can apply for up to $ 1,000 in service grants. An application is available on the Zonta Club of Midland website and is expected in February. A committee evaluates the applications and announces the winners in March. The Zonta Club of Midland has provided $ 205,000 in service grants over the years.

Service groups met with Zonta members last year to share what they did with their donations.

“Last year with the pandemic, it was a lot easier to get people into meetings, so we invited all of our applicants (who won) to come over at some point and talk to us as a group. They could zoom in and tell us what they were doing, ”Vickery said.

This year the Zonta Club of Midland made 11 service grants to Adventist Community Services, Affordable Housing Alliance of Midland County, Care Giving Network, Community Mental Health for Central Michigan, Family & Children’s Services of Mid-Michigan, Helping Hands Dental Clinic of Midland, LifeClinic Community Resources, Midland County Habitat for Humanity, Midland Young Life, Self Love Beauty, and Shelterhouse of Midland and Gladwin Counties.

For more information, including how to apply for Zonta scholarships, visit www.zontaclubofmidland.org. To donate to the Zonta Club of Midland Scholarship Fund, visit www.midlandfoundation.org/fund/the-zonta-club-of-midland-endowed-scholarship-fund-660/

A global sisterhood

Zonta membership has impacted the lives of women not only around the world, but also in the Midland region.

When Midlander Nancy Barker joined Zonta 43 years ago, she quickly learned to respect the other like-minded women in the group and admired their drive to do business and run businesses, which was not so common at the time.

“(Zonta) has positively expanded my life in many ways and given me the opportunity to do things for the community,” said Barker.

Nancy Blasy of Midland values ​​the Zonta Mission and members very much. Blasy stated that although she has no birth sisters, the women of Zonta have become like sisters to her since she joined 30 years ago.

“These women come from very different walks of life,” said Blasy. “They have had very different successful careers. I enjoyed working and working with these ambitious and dedicated women who are committed enough to spend time making a difference in our world. “

Hannah Klaffer, founder and president of the Z Club at Midland High School, first became interested in Zonta because her mother was the club’s vice president. However, Klaffer took the initiative to start a youth version of the club when she saw a sexist comment on Facebook. Realizing that the need to empower women in society was still a relevant topic, she decided to do whatever it takes to make a change.

“It’s just one way of empowering women, being more inclusive and finding a way to be the same on all levels,” said Klaffer.

Trish Steele from Midland has been a member of Zonta for seven years. She first got involved when a friend asked if she would like to attend a meeting. Steele has been a dedicated member since then.

“The organization has some wonderful opportunities to make a difference not only locally but also nationally and internationally when it comes to empowering women,” said Steele.

For more information about the Zonta Club of Midland, visit www.zontaclubofmidland.org or email [email protected]

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