The yellow rose is said to symbolize friendship, joy, wisdom, happiness and power. It makes sense Zonta Jefferson City utilizes the yellow rose as the centerpiece for their annual celebration of women.
However, its optimistic likeness reflects Zonta’s own word origin and adoption of the group that empowers women through service and advocacy.
“Zonta” is derived from Lakhota, a language of the Native American Sioux tribe meaning honest and trustworthy. In fact, the Zonta emblem is composed of Sioux Indian symbols that when superimposed take on a special significance for Zontians, according to Zonta International’s website. The letter “Z” is a Sioux symbol for “ray of light,” “sunshine,” “flash of radiance” and “inspiration,” while other symbols express banding together for a purpose or loyalty, shelter and honesty and trust.
In 1919, Zonta International began and less than 30 years later a field representative ofZonta International acquainted a group of local executive and business women with the aims and objects of the Zonta organization. As the 192nd club organized by the international association, Zonta JeffersonCity first started with a number of preliminary meetings at the Hotel Governor and a group of 20 women organized a charter on April 17, 1947, with Eula B. Hadlick, a local attorney, elected as president, according to Zonta Jefferson City’s website.
The area chapter has done many things to support both local causes that empower women, as well as those of Zonta International. One such cause is “Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women.” The local chapter utilized that theme for its 11th annual 5K Run/Walk last year, regularly supports and volunteers at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center (RACS), raises awareness about human trafficking and supports Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition and supports the international group’s efforts as well, in addition to helping women gain equality in other countries.
“Money we raise for the international group, often that goes to countries in the Middle East or other places where women don’t have rights. We advocate them to have access to education or for them to be able to drive,” said Erin Wiseman, Zonta Jefferson City member. “Here these things seem like a basic human right, but it is not across the world.”
Volunteering and supporting many other Mid-Missouri organizations including Salvation Army, HALO, ABLE, Habitat for Humanity and Dreams to Reality, supporting a women’s education has been important even before the Second Chance Scholars was established at the start of the 21st century. Ruthi Sturdevant, 18-year Zonta member and past president, said about 25 percent of the club’s funds raised went to a scholarship fund for those wanting to become nurses, dedicated to the late charter Zonta Jefferson City member Laura Layher of the State Board of Nurse Examiners. Sturdevant said it was established in the 1970s and lasted at least 20 years. Now, Second Chance Scholars is the main focus.
The education of advocacy for all women is another important initiative of Zonta International, and the Z Club provides opportunities for young women in high school to develop leadership skills, explore career alternatives and improve international understanding through service projects. Zonta Jefferson City supports a local Z Club, which started in the mid-90s and was sponsored by Dr. Laurel Kramer, a Zonta members.
Students from many local schools – Jefferson City, Helias, Blair Oaks and Russellville – have participated in the past and get to know one another and come together for service, education and social activities alongside Zontians who serve as club sponsors.
“These high-schoolers are really active in the community. They have done the meal train at HALO, raise money for Zonta Say No to Violence, raise human trafficking awareness, helped at RACS and helped at many community events. That is just the tip of the iceberg for them,” Wiseman said.
The Yellow Rose Luncheon is also a way Zonta Jefferson City recruits potential Zontians, but those interested in joining the club can contact any Zonta member, complete a prospective member application available on the group’s website and attend a membership meeting as a guest to find out more about the organization. Women with experience in a recognized business or profession, willing to commit time to service and advocacy in the community and contribute financially to and/or raise money for local and international projects that benefit women can apply.
For more information about joining Zonta Jefferson City, contact membership chair Sherri Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit zontajcmo.org.
“It is a very busy group of women and they are very involved and care about this community,” Wiseman added about Zonta Jefferson City.
In recognizing each year’s theme, a keynote speaker who helps stand for, advocate and/or has experienced that theme is asked to be the annual “celebration speaker.”
2000 Jean Carnahan, first lady, U.S. senator (Theme, Children)
2001 Dr. Linda Godwin, astronaut (Discovery)
2002 Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic athlete (Goodwill)
2003 Debbie Turner, Miss America, broadcaster (Communication)
2004 Sharon Enloe-Baum, The Corcoran Group (Heritage)
2005 Hollie Howard, Broadway performer (Music)
2006 Lyah Beth LaFlore, author (Women in Words)
2007 Michelle Stauffer, pilot (Women in Flight)
2008 Maxine Clark, Build a Bear (Women as Entrepreneurs)
2009 Hon. Ann Coventon, judge (Women in Law)
2010 Patricia R. Miller, Vera Bradley (Hope)
2011 Becky James-Hatter, Big Brothers Big Sisters (Celebrating Mentoring)
2012 Liz Bohannan, Sseko Design (Celebrating Second Chances)
2013 Rebecca N. Welsh, HALO Foundation (Celebrating Community)
2014 Jann Carl, Small Town Big Deal (Celebrating our Stories)
2015 Robbie Montgomery, Sweetie Pie’s (Celebrating Sweet Success)
2016 Abby Arauz, The Feather Girl (Celebrating Generations)
2017 Laura Farris Schuffman, fashion stylist (Celebrating Courage)
2018 Elaine Veits, mystery writer (Celebrating Resilience)
In 2002, the Zonta Club of Jefferson City established the “Mrs. William H. Weldon Lifetime Achievement Award” as a tribute to a women who had a tremendous mark on Jefferson City and beyond through her lifetime of work and service.
Since its inception, the Mrs. William H. Weldon Lifetime Achievement Award has been awarded to the following women:
2003 – Rosalie Little
2004 – Aimee Morrow
2005 – Margaret “Billie” Railton
2006 – Florence Guhleman
2007 – Odie Dickens
2008 – Jeanie Moore
2009 – Shirley Quigg
2010 – Sally Sprague
2011 – Dorothy Lemke
2012 – Sabra Eagan
2013 – Marylyn DeFeo
2014 – Micca Ruffin
2015 – Peggy Kirkpatrick
2016 – Donna Westhues
2017 – Lorraine Mercurio
2018 – Debbie Hamler
2000 Marylyn DeFeo, Jeanie Moore
2001 Lori Levine, Sharon Naught
2002 Nancy Gratz, Linda Pullam Key
2003 Donna Deetz, Debra Walker
2004 Connie Cunningham, Jean Wankum
2005 Cynthia Arendt, Sr. Ethel-Marie Biri
2006 Carolyn Atkins, Rita Esterly
2007 Mary Pat Abele, Mary Russell
2008 Susie Hinds, Mary Winter
2009 Dr. Carolyn Mahoney
2010 Mary Ann Chambers, Tuck Vandyne
2011 Gracia Backer, Ann Harris
2012 Dr. Jahnae Barnett, Dr. Laurel Kramer
2013 Deb Brown, Sr. Evelyn Marie
2014 Audrey Kauffman, Dr. Miriam Fuller
2015 Angela Hirsch, Yvonne Matthews
2016 Carol Beavers, Paula Burnett
2017 Sherri Elliot-Thomas, Treaka Young
2018 Jill Hansen, Elizabeth Tina Sellner