Soroptimist International of South Placer names Women’s Opportunity Award winner

Roseville woman receives $1,000 award
By: Laura O’Brien, Placer Herald correspondent
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Soroptimist members of area clubs including South Placer, Roseville, and Lincoln meet on a regular basis with a focus on helping women and girls in their communities. Interested individuals, including non-members, may access volunteer opportunities and other resources at

As three finalists for Soroptimist International of South Placer’s Women’s Opportunity Awards told their stories of survival at a brunch in Rocklin Saturday, more than a few people in the audience wiped damp eyes.

But the tears quickly turned to proud smiles as the South Placer branch of Soroptimist awarded prizes to each of the women, all single mothers pursuing educational degrees while supporting their families.

“You’re all first place,” said Latanya Johnson, event chair. “I need you to know that. I need you to own that.”

Soroptimist has recognized women with Women’s Opportunity Awards since 1972. The program disburses $1.5 million each year, with awards on local, regional and international levels. Local winners progress to the regional-level competition, with additional award money at stake.

Jodee Steinbrecher of Roseville received the South Placer club’s grand prize, a $1,000 check toward educational expenses. Steinbrecher said her daughters deserve a share of the recognition because they took care of themselves at home in the evenings as Steinbrecher went to school. All three finalists are pursuing careers in nursing.

The second-place prize, a new laptop, went to Stephanie Massoth of Roseville, who plans to become a labor and delivery nurse. Massoth said chocolate cake at midnight powers her through her hectic schedule of full-time school and part-time work.

Event co-sponsor Working Women International, founded by Johnson, donated the laptop. Before receiving her prize, Massoth had said if she won the grand prize she would use the money for a new computer and printer for patient care plans.

Third-place winner Alexis Morrell of Rocklin received a $200 gift card from event co-sponsor CVS Caremark. Morrell has a 1-year-old son.

“Being a single parent is a lonely struggle, so I want to thank all of you for making mine a little less lonely,” she said.

The theme of the awards ceremony was “Reclaiming the Dream.”

Rocklin Mayor Diana Ruslin gave the keynote address to a city meeting room full of club members and supporters. She described her circuitous route to political office by getting involved in her community, following the example of her parents.

“When it’s your dream, you don’t need approval from anyone,” Ruslin said.

When questioning the likelihood of attaining their dreams, Ruslin challenged the finalists to ask themselves, “Why not me?”

The South Placer club celebrates its second anniversary this year.

“We hope in the future to have more money and to have more gifts and to have more sponsors,” Johnson said.

Poet Sandy Martin closed the award ceremony with a recitation of her poem, “A Dream Seldom Dies.” Martin is a board member of Working Women International.

“The most powerful of all is a dream in motion, a dream that refuses to die,” she said.