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.

All Videos

All Videos

Watch Now

 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

2021 Winners

A total of $2,000 was awarded to all three winners: Wambui Munene, Noela De Frenza, and Britney Ordonez Lozano.


Wambui Munene

Wambui has been involved with United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay and devoted her time to the Weekend Without Limits program which allowed her to spend time with children who have developmental or physical disabilities. Wambui said “Though communicating with each child may have looked different, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time with them whether it was talking about their interests or even just playing hide and seek. The program created a safe haven for children with disabilities as they struggle to be understood and experience life in a unique way.”


Noela De Frenza

Noela wanted to fight climate change so she founded California Youth Climate Leaders (CYCL) at San Marin High School. They are currently working to install compost bins around campus to increase sustainability at San Marin. They will host a planting project at Bel Marin Keys Wetlands and are also preparing to speak at a science event at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, educating kids through activities and games about climate and environmental issues and solutions.


Noela said “With climate change, problems don’t just occur, they compound. Fires, drought, habitat destruction, sea levels rising. They all connect and affect us on a much larger scale. They create a tidal wave of destruction. But just like how our mistakes unfold, our actions and solutions have rippling effects. Any of us can make a difference, whether it is something as small as reducing plastic waste consumption or installing solar panels. I started CYCL to engage the community with climate efforts, to take action towards this increasingly more detrimental issue.”


Britney Ordonez Lozano

Britney has worked at many food banks for several years. She started by volunteering in her freshman year at her old elementary school Lynwood food bank. Also, Britney would work at the food bank at Novato Community of Christ. Her duties included unpacking boxes of food, setting up stations and handing them to people, assisting them to their cars, and cleaning up at the end. Britney said “It makes me happy that I was able to help out many people by reducing hunger locally and serving healthy ingredients to make healthy meals. Not only was I able to feed my community, but I also helped reduce food waste. If it weren’t for food banks and the volunteers who help run them, the food would have ended up in landfills with only a small portion being composted.”


Wambui Munene

Photo Noela De Frenza 4 - larger.jpg

Noela De Frenza


Britney Ordonez Lozano

2020 Winners
Photo Elizabeth DeRuvo.msg.jpg

Elizabeth DeRuvo

Photo Max Leonard - Best.jpeg

Ashley (Max) Leonard

A total of $2,000 was awarded to two winners:  Elizabeth DeRuvo and Ashley (Max) Leonard


Elizabeth DeRuvo won the First Place Violet Richardson Award 

At the age of six Elizabeth asked her mom one cold winter night, "What happens to the homeless on cold nights?"  Her mom responded that "unfortunately they have to sleep outside or if they are lucky they will be able to sleep at a shelter". The next morning, Elizabeth began taking blankets from her home and insisted to her mom, that they drive them around town passing blankets out to people they saw in need.  


Elizabeth expanded her efforts by sending a letter to family, friends, neighbors and classmates asking for donations of blankets and socks for the homeless in her town.   The outcome was overwhelming and as a result, she was able to help hundreds of people in need.


She received an award from the County of Marin Board of Supervisors naming her the sole recipient of the "2010 Look Who's Getting It Done Award" and was also invited to New York to be interviewed on The Nate Berkus Show which highlighted her efforts working with the homeless. In 2011, Elizabeth was also awarded the prestigious "American Red Cross Community Hero Award".  


Elizabeth continued her work in 2018, to provide help to people in the CAMP Fire in Paradise, California. She teamed up with the San Marin Athletics program to setup donation bins at football games. They then took these donations to the fire victims at the Torres Shelter in Chico.


Operation Warm Winter still provides help to people in need. See her website for ways to help: We are reminded, that all of this started because "One little girl took blankets from a closet and offered them to those in need. One person CAN make a difference!”

Ashley (Max) Leonard also won a First Place Violet Richardson Award  

"On September 27, 2012, a girl named Hailey was struck by an SUV and died a few hours later. I feel that if the intersection had not been so intimidating to kids, Hailey might still be here today."  Max has been volunteering to improve the safety of the intersection near San Marin High School. "I noticed two issues: there was poor infrastructure, and reckless behavior of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Through my work I earned a Girl Scout Gold Award, and a Proclamation from the City of Novato honoring my efforts and dedication."


First, Max targeted infrastructure improvements of the intersection and took the issues to the Novato Public Works department. "I worked on the Project Initiation Document for the City Engineer that was used to receive City Council approval to move forward with the development of a Capital Improvement Plan. Evidence of progress is the re-paving along Novato Blvd. which includes a multi-modal pathway adjacent to San Marin High, a crosswalk at Dwarf Oak Trail, bike paths and new lane striping."


Max also worked with "Safe Routes to School" Program Director, Gwen Froh. These programs decrease traffic and pollution and increase the health of children and the community. They focused on student and parent driving, biking and walking behavior through the intersection as well as evaluating appropriate student drop off and pick up and school regulations. "I worked with Safe Routes to School and designed a curriculum called 'Share the Road Campaign' that addressed these issues which were implemented in the 9th grade health classes at San Marin High School.”


"Once the infrastructure at this intersection is improved the greater community will be safer. This traffic safety improvement will also significantly reduce CO2 emissions affecting Earth’s climate. I gathered support from the general public as well as the following committees:  Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), Novato Unified School District (NUSD) Trustees, Novato Planning Commission, and the Novato City Council.  The ultimate goal is to create a safer intersection for the community and to prevent a horrible incident from ever happening again."


Evelyn Zavala-Torres


Gabby Reales

2019 Winners

A total of $2,000 was awarded to two winners:   Evelyn Zavala-Torres and Gabriela Reales-Herrera


Evelyn Zavala-Torres won the First Place Violet Richardson Award for $800 with an additional $200 going to the Dreamer’s Program at Novato High School led by Ms. Cinthia Angelicola to help students in the English Learning Development Department.  Samples of what she did to earn this award:

  • Developed a pamphlet of all the staff members at school that spoke Spanish so the students knew who they could go to for help.

  • Visited classrooms to work with ELD students.

  • Tutored ELD students.

  • Created posters about school events so ELD students could be informed and attend dances and other events.

  • Translated and filmed school announcements in Spanish with other ELD students willing to be on screen.

  • Attended a panel in a leadership summit and spoke to ELD students at other high schools to show what could be done in classes to make things more inclusive for all ELD students.


*NEWS UPDATE*  Evelyn was awarded an extra $500 because she also won First Place at the District IV level in our Region.  Congrats, Evelyn!!

Gabriela Reales-Herrera won the runner-up award for $400 with an additional $100 awarded to Lynwood Elementary School LEAP Program where she volunteered for two years. Samples of things Gabby did to earn this award:

  • Translated for Spanish speakers in the classes.

  • Helped students and assisted teachers in reading, art, and other programs acting as the translator.