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Violet Richardson Award

Do you know a young woman age 14-18 who works to make the community a better place? Does she have experience working for an organization that improves the lives of others? Is she passionate about making a difference through tenacity and problem-solving skills? If so, she is encouraged to apply for the Violet Richardson Award.

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 Soroptimist International of Novato is passionate about working to improve the lives of women and girls on a local and global scale by providing resources to underserved women and girls, and raising awareness about issues they face. We are looking to honor a young woman who has demonstrated a desire to improve her community. This can be by solving an issue at school, working towards fixing a community problem, or improving a situation that faces women and girls. The possibilities are endless, and we encourage her to apply for the chance to be rewarded for her volunteer actions! If she either goes to school, lives or works in Novato, she is eligible to apply for this award. The club level winner will receive up to $1,000. Part of the award may go to the organization where the winner volunteers to help further support its efforts.


If the above criteria describes someone you know, we encourage you to forward this application to her for the chance to be recognized. The deadline for submission has been extended to December 31. If you have any questions, please contact Vicki Campbell, Chair of the Violet Richardson Award.  


Cell: (415) 987-5507

Kalyani Ryaru was just awarded the District III Violet Richardson Award, which comes with an additional $500 award. Congratulations Kalyani!
2022 Winners  
Awards Given March 2023
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This year we awarded the Violet Richardson Award to six amazing young women totaling $4,000. We thank our generous sponsors and donors who make this award possible.


Ruth Alvarenga


Ruth has spent most of her time volunteering for North Marin Community Services (NMCS). She began at the Children’s Shopping Day when she was seven. Ruth continued with programs like the food pantry, making phone calls, gift bagging, and distribution at the annual Holiday Share event. She is a Peer Health Promoter working with the Novato Teen Clinic. They provide teenagers, especially girls, with tools and information to be successful in everyday life and discuss the importance of mental health. She works on the front line talking with teen girls to help them feel supported by providing resources to make better decisions. Ruth recently won the 2023 Miss Marin Outstanding Teen Program, and her platform was the importance of mental health in our lives. Ruth plans to pursue studies in Psychology in college, and her goal is to become a therapist.


Aileen Marrufo


Aileen has volunteered at Our Lady of Loretto School, Loma Verde Elementary School, and Trinity Lutheran Church. She would help children with activities in class, such as reading and translate from Spanish to English or vice versa. Aileen helped distribute toys and volunteered at the Salvation Army front desk. She has also worked at the Center for Domestic Peace and a group within the larger group called Voces De Cambio (Voices of Change). Currently, she is involved with the Explorer Group at the Novato Police Dept. One of her main goals is to help other kids realize they are not entirely alone. If you give them the support they need, it could push them in the right direction.


Lizbeth Mendieta Alvarado


Lizbeth volunteers with the Marin County Youth Commission (MCYC). She joined this group in 8th grade. She noticed that she was the only person of color, so she took an interest in racial equity as a focal point for her work. Her committee conducted training on power and privilege, usually for schools, students, and staff. Lizbeth and her peers reached hundreds of students and teachers through these training sessions, even during the pandemic. Lizbeth started volunteering at the Novato Teen Clinic as a Peer Health Promoter to help young people access resources for their mental and sexual health needs. She worked in the Student Wellness Advisory Group to build the foundations for creating a wellness campus. They planned Wellness Fairs as ways for students to come together and find the needed resources. Her supervisor said she is a veteran youth commissioner who has helped create a welcoming, safe, inclusive culture. Lizbeth has been a critical reason the youth commission has been so strong over the last few years. She won the Heart of Marin Youth Volunteer of the year in 2022. She is also an Ambassador to the Marin Teen Girl Conference in 2023.


Kalyani Ryaru


Kalyani volunteers with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to advocate for immigrants’ rights and racial justice. In her junior year of school, she founded the Advocacy Club at Novato High and served as president. She coordinated the club’s texts to voters about social justice issues and answered voters’ questions through multiple text banks on behalf of the ACLU. They told voters about the negative impact of sheriff cooperation with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They provided information about a meeting to educate activists about the issue and how to voice concerns. Kalyani learned about the disproportionate impact of facial recognition on police body cameras on communities of color. Kalyani helped pass SB 1038, Keep Facial Recognition Off Police Body Cameras. Kalyani trained the Legislative Summer Recess Kickoff volunteers to advocate for immigrant rights. During the Kickoff, she taught volunteers how meeting with legislators effectively brings attention to priority bills. As a college student, she plans to schedule planning meetings with ACLU volunteers to advocate for immigrant rights and racial justice-focused bills in preparation for legislative visits. The ACLU Programs Manager said, “Kalyani’s kindness, curiosity, effectiveness, and ambition have made her a great advocate for civil liberties in Marin County.”



Caroline Schmidt


Caroline was born in Pyatigorsk, near the fighting in Ukraine. She felt helpless as a teen living in America to help out. She found ENGin, a program that matches American peer tutors with Ukrainian students who want to learn English. Caroline worked as a tutor with a girl her age, creating lesson plans and homework assignments. Caroline knew that one person could make a difference. Leadership has many forms, and even the most minor changes can have a significant impact. Caroline lives with a physical disability, but she allowed physical therapists to videotape her doing exercises to share the video with other professionals to use as a training aid. She even had an article nationally published about her that shows kids like her that anything is possible when you are dedicated and determined. During the COVID shutdown, Caroline participated in weekly online physical training seminars with kids worldwide. She helped by demonstrating the exercises, speaking with parents, and reassuring kids that the training makes living an everyday life possible.


Alisa Zhou

Alisa has been a jury member with the Marin County Youth Court (now known as Youth Transforming Justice) for the last several years, serving as an ally to guide the youth throughout their court experience. “Mentoring these youth and witnessing them grow as leaders in their own communities has been the most rewarding experience.” 




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Aileen Marrufo

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Lizbeth Mendieta Alvarado