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Live Your Dream Award

Each year, Soroptimist International of Novato recognizes and presents monetary awards to one or two women who have primary financial responsibility for their family and seek to improve their economic status by gaining additional skills, training or education.  Live Your Dream winners receive award amounts from $1,500 to $5,000. 


Eligibility requirements: 

  • Is a woman with primary financial responsibility for supporting her family (including children, spouse, siblings and/or parents)

  • Attends or has been accepted to a vocational/skills training program, or an undergraduate college program

  • Has demonstrated financial need

  • Is motivated to achieve her educational and career goals

  • Lives, goes to school or attends a skills training program in Novato

We believe education is the pathway to economically empowering women and girls. This unique program is helping women find their voice and purpose while offering the resources they need to succeed.

LIVE YOUR DREAM Education and Training Awards for Women assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills, and employment prospects. Soroptimists know that education is the key to unlocking economic empowerment of the world’s women and girls. When women and girls are educated, they have opportunity, choice, and power to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.  With the Live Your Dream Award we recognize and empower remarkable women who against staggering odds are taking control of their circumstances and working to get the education and training they need to improve their lives and the lives of their children.

Please note that previous recipients and Soroptimist members and their immediate family are not eligible.


We invite qualified women to apply for the LYD award by completing the Application and Reference Forms when available. Email the completed forms to by November 15 of each year.


If you need more information, obtain an application form, or need help with the application, you can contact Jane Gannon at

NOTE;  Live Your Dream cash grants qualify as gifts and therefore are not taxable income to the recipients. Soroptimist clubs in the U.S. do not issue 1099s to recipients or collect W-9 forms for an award amount.

2020-21 Award
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Winner #1 received $5,000 from our local Soroptimist club! Keeping her identity anonymous, we are pleased to report that our recipient is a College of Marin student and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in social work. She is a single mom with a young boy. Her story is quite compelling and her passion for helping others is inspiring. Her application is so heart rendering that it will be forwarded to the Soroptimist regional level for additional regional funding.

Winner #2 received $1,000 from our local club. Also being anonymous, we are delighted to report that she is also a College of Marin student and entrepreneur. "My dream goal is to own my own business. Failing is not an option for me. My daughter's [two year old] future is counting on me to succeed." 


2019-20 Award

This year, our club awarded four women with Live Your Dream Awards for a total of $7,000, which includes a generous gift of $1,000 from Marian Huntington, CEO of Novato Spirit. Each applicant shares a compelling story of a woman's courage, fortitude, persistence, and love.

Winner #1 immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico where she received her high school diploma. She is now enrolled at College of Marin to be a Medical Technician. She is 40 years old and is raising four children ages 15, 12, 11, and 10. She currently lives at Gilead House in one room with her four children. She said, "I have dreamed all my life to be able to go to school and study. I want to be a nurse someday. This is my first time going to school in the USA, and it is important to complete my education goals so I can have a better job to support my kids. I want to set a good example for my kids and show that education is the key for success that opens many doors on the life path. Thank you for this great opportunity."

Winner #2 is 31 with two children ages 1 and 7. Her goal is to be an Ultrasound Technician, and she is working on her AA degree at College of Marin. She intends to obtain a BS degree at Kaiser School for Allied Sciences. She was raised in a family with parents having addiction issues and moved frequently. Her children have experienced domestic violence, homelessness and more. She is determined never to have to experience any of that again.

Winner #3 is 29 and is a single mom raising two children ages 1 and 4. She is studying nursing at College of Marin and has aspirations to become a Registered Nurse. She said, "I aspire to become a successful global citizen by aligning myself in a positive work place with people who share similar core values."

Winner #4 has two children ages 16 and 13. She is enrolled in College of Marin in the early childhood education program. She came to the U.S. at age 18 and was involved in an abusive relationship. She also has several medical issues and physical limitations. She volunteers in the community at Center for Domestic Peace, Lady of Loretto, the Salvation Army, Marin Girls Chorus, and the Novato Police Department.

2018 - 2019

This year, we received an unprecedented number of qualified, deserving applications. The need is great and it was extremely difficult to choose just one. So we chose two! And we wish we could have done more. Thankfully we were able to pass along the remaining applications to other clubs in our region. The two women we honor this year are shining examples of what hard work, grit, and determination can do in the pursuit of one’s goals. We admire these women beyond words and are grateful for the opportunity to recognize their indomitable spirits.

Sandra Garcia won the $3,500 First Place Live Your Dream Award. Garcia immigrated to the US from Guatemala and Mexico when she was 19.  She is currently enrolled in the nursing prerequisite classes at the College of Marin while working part-time and raising three boys. Sandra stated, "This award will help pay my tuition, fees, and buy books at the College of Marin. As a single mom getting an education is very important to me. I can't afford to pay for it myself. My dream is to be a nurse, and I desire to help children with special needs.  Thank you for my heart."


Sandra Garcia receives the 2019 Live Your Dream Award for $3,500.

Our Live Your Dream Runner-up wishes to remain anonymous. She works part-time while raising her two young children.  Her ultimate goal is to become a dentist, and is currently attending the College of Marin.

2017 - 2018

Lydia Margarita Rodriguez's story of overcoming homelessness, setting a goal to take care of her family and working hard to reach her goal is so inspiring that she has received two Live Your Dream awards from Soroptimist International. The first award was from SI Novato. The $2,000 LYD award is given annually to a woman in Novato to improve her employment skills. The second award is the $4,000 LYD award given by District IV of Soroptimist International. These awards recognize Ms Rodriguez's resilience, perseverance, responsibility, and dedication.

Ms Rodriguez recently graduated from the Culinary Academy at Fresh Starts in Novato. The LYD awards will allow her to continue her culinary training. Lydia said that her dream is to provide a good home for her son and to give back to the community that has supported her. There were hugs, tears, and joy when Lydia received her Live Your Dream awards.


Lydia Margarita Rodriguez receives the 2018 Live Your Dream Award for $2,000.

2016 - 2017

Soroptimist International of Novato has given its annual Live Your Dream Award to two Novato women to empower them to support their families and contribute to their community.  Ashley Crusto and Kelli Reno, each received $2,000 to use for improving their employment skills.  Ashley is attending College of Marin to get her medical assistant certificate.  Her goal is to get her nursing degree and to be a role model for her five children.  Kelli Reno owns a mobile hair salon and will use her award to advance her skills as a beautician.  This will allow her to better serve her customers and to provide for her son. 

Club member Susan Magnone presents award to Ashley Crusto with her five children in 2017.

Kelli Reno receives check from club member Susan Magnone in 2017

2014 - 2015

We honored two amazing women who are working hard to make a difference for their families by awarding them our 2014 Live Your Dream Award. Examples of women who had applied were enrolled in a Nutritionist degree program, a Dental Assistant Program, an Esthetician Program, and Culinary School.

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