Women helping women reach new heights

Two Red Deerians honoured with annual Soroptimist awards

  • Mar. 12, 2014 4:35 p.m.

Two Central Alberta single mothers were honoured during the International Women’s Day Luncheon hosted by Soroptimist of Central Alberta recently at the Black Knight Inn.

The local Soroptimist chapter provides these awards annually to women who are the sole providers for their children and who are returning to a post-secondary institution as a way to better provide for their children in the future.

Brandy Newman, mother of two boys, and Pat Hanson, mother of three boys were recipients of the Women’s Opportunity Award.

President of Soroptimist International of Central Alberta, Dolly Berg explained to the crowd at the International Women’s Day Luncheon that the group raises funds year round to have the opportunity to give these awards out to deserving women in their community.

“It is incredibly gratifying to be able to assist women financially and to be able to acknowledge their achievements,” said Berg. “To stand behind women and support them when they need it most is such a fulfilling feeling.”

This year, Soroptimist International of Central Alberta was able to give out one $2,000 award and for the first time in the club’s history they gave out a second award for $1,500 thanks to a generous donation by Denis Huot of Dixon Associates Law Office.

Newman received $2,000 with Hanson receiving $1,500 to use as they please.

Newman is a fourth year sociology student at Red Deer College and the sole provider for an eight-month-old and eight-year-old boy.

Originally from Kelowna, B.C., she decided to return to Red Deer to finish her degree in sociology because she was tired of working three jobs and barely scraping by.

She knew she would have to return to school to provide the kind of life for her sons that she wanted to.

Upon having applied for the Women’s Opportunity Award twice in the past, Newman was hesitant to apply again this year but was greatly encouraged by one of her school instructors.

“I was in disbelief when I won as I was a little pessimistic to apply this year,” said Newman. “It’s very hard to make yourself vulnerable and tell strangers your story when applying, but I know going back to school will better the life of my sons.”

Newman plans to put the award towards her student loans and hopes to continue her education by pursuing her master’s degree.

The secondary award recipient Hanson is a single mother of three young boys ages 13, 10, and eight who all have varying disabilities such as autism, ADHD and a rare chromosomal deletion disorder.

After separating from her husband of a number of years, Hanson found herself the sole provider for her sons.

Unsure of what to do next, Hanson made the decision to return to school to pursue her career as a nurse. She is currently a second year nursing student at Red Deer College, where she as well had one of her instructors suggest that she apply for the Women’s Opportunity Award.

“I was quite honoured to be chosen and recognized with this award, it really meant a lot to me and will just make it easier for me to be back at school,” stated Hanson who plans to put the money towards tuition and books.

“I try to be a good role model to my children and I hope that they see it’s never to late to do the things you want to do and if you work hard you can accomplish anything.”

Hanson explained that she has wanted to return to school for some time but had never had the opportunity to do so.

Soroptimist International of Central Alberta wishes to congratulate their award recipients again and to give thanks to all of the women who applied as well as who attended the luncheon. They also invite any women who wish to give back to their community to join their monthly meetings by contacting the club at