Christine Fereti is 2020 Live Your Dream awardee

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SOROPTOMIST International of the Northern Mariana Islands on Saturday celebrated women "Rising Above the Storm" and awarded the 2020 "Live Your Dream" winner, Christine Fereti, at the Fiesta Resort Hibiscus Hall.

Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement that advocates for human rights and gender equality, ensuring that the voices of women and girls are heard.

They work on grassroots projects that help women and girls achieve their individual and collective potential, realize aspirations and have an equal voice in communities worldwide.

There are charters in over 120 countries and over 160,000 members just in the Americas.

In fiscal year 2018-2019, Soroptimist International awarded over $2.6 million to over a thousand women across 21 countries.

Soroptimist International NMI or SINMI president Marilyn Marron said their group is in its eighth year as a charter and currently has 18 members.

She encouraged community members to join the charter, highlighting the work that the charter does in empowering and educating women and girls, such as their outreach to Karidat Social Services’ Guma Esperansa, and over $20,000 that they have awarded since their inception.

Marron noted that interested individuals are welcome to join in the charter’s monthly meetings, which are held on a quarterly basis with other non-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Christine Fereti, second left, poses with loved ones and members of Soroptomist International NMI after receiving the 2020 “Live Your Dream” award on Saturday at Fiesta Resort. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

The “Live Your Dream” award is given to someone who is the head of a household, the main financial support of the household, a full-time undergraduate student at either a college, university, or trade school, and needs financial assistance. It  provides monetary assistance up to $3,000.

SINMI receives about four to five applicants, she said, and selects non-members to be judges.

This year’s judges are Carline Sablan from Tan Holdings and Lisa Rafael from the Northern Marianas College.

2013 "Live Your Dream" SINMI winner Leah Murphy — the very first to have received this award — was a guest speaker at the event.

Murphy, a single mom of two girls, shared that at the time she had received the award, she was working full time, had just gotten out of a bad relationship, was going to school full time, and paying bills all of the time.

She said used most of the money towards school and to save for a rainy day.

Since then, she has received her bachelor of science in elementary education, joined Saipan Young Professionals, became a Public School System teacher, earned her master’s degree in international education, became a certified educational technology instructor, and a Pacific Century Fellow.

After eight years as an educator, six of which was at Koblerville Elementary School, she is now moving into an administrative position at PSS and also runs her own online business.

“Something even more rewarding came of this award: it was the support of every person. Every time I encountered someone from the night of the awards, they have words of encouragement, of sincere comfort, and words of wisdom,” Murphy shared.

She is now working towards her doctorate in chiropractic.

“For those of you who have grabbed this opportunity, you’re getting more than money; you’re being given the opportunity to learn from the best and have the best of the best applaud you every step of the way, no matter the obstacle or your struggle,” she said.

Karidat Social Services executive director Lauri Ogumoro was the keynote speaker and highlighted the importance of empowering women.

She noted the women’s suffrage movement and its importance in celebrating and honoring women, both past and present, and their resiliency.

This year’s theme, “Rising Above the Storm,” exhibits such resiliency.

Ogumoro shared her experiences with gender discrimination and encouraged women and girls to advocate for themselves.

“We women have to take opportunities to advocate for ourselves [and] for each other. As we pursue our goals, we must always support other women who are facing similar problems,” she said.

The “Live Your Dream” award, she said, is about recognizing women who are strong in advocating for themselves, and also serves as a reminder of what people can achieve when they support each other.

This year’s recipient expressed her gratitude to SINMI and to all who have supported her and continue to support her.

“This year was a rough year. I applied for this award because I know what it is like to hit rock bottom, but I want all the women out there to know that it’s not the end of the road,” she said.

She added, “I still feel like I’m dreaming right now.”

Fereti is the mother of three children ages 8, 5, and 4 years old.

She shared that since the global Covid-19 pandemic, she lost her job, and she and her children have had to adapt to online education.

Still, she said that she and her children enjoy spending more time together.

She is currently taking online classes at Northern Marianas College for her nursing degree.

“There’s always a rainbow after the rain,” she said.

SINMI would like to thank all of its sponsors: Seafix, Marianas Variety, Herman’s Bakery, Hyatt, JC Tenorio Enterprises, Latte Built Gym, Marpac, the Tan Siu Lin Foundation, Natural Nail Spa, Paradise Dental Spa, Takagi Insurance, Couples Cakery, Triple J, Gold’s Gym, KSPN2, The Shack, and D&Q.



November 2020 pssnewsletter

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