Lauren Kern paints the windows at Wilson’s Sandwich Shop in celebration of the Zonta Club of Findlay’s 60th anniversary. The club is dedicated to advancing the status of women through advocacy and fundraising. Club members will host an anniversary ice cream social Tuesday at the Hancock Historical Museum. (Photo by Kevin Bean)

By BRENNA GRITEMAN

LIFE EDITOR

In the past six decades, the Zonta Club of Findlay has awarded over $170,000 in local scholarships, helped train truckers to recognize the signs of human trafficking, sponsored a boat livery at Riverside Park and supported causes benefiting the lives of women and girls.

And they’ve managed to have a lot of fun in the process.

“It’s not just another service club. It’s a sisterhood,” says 26-year member Kathy Natal.

She explains that since its inception 60 years ago, the Findlay Zonta Club has advocated for a single, straightforward mission: “To advance the status of women.”

That’s the mission of Zonta International, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this calendar year, and one the local chapter is proud to promote.

Zonta takes its name from a Sioux Indian word meaning “honest and trustworthy,” and the local service club seeks to build trust with women by focusing on three designated issues: domestic violence, homelessness and women’s health. Through fundraisers, advocacy and other hands-on work, the club seeks to empower women and girls while calling attention to such horrors as childhood marriage, female genital mutilation and sex trafficking. Zonta regularly collects money and supplies for City Mission, Findlay Hope House and Open Arms Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services.

The club held a silent walk through downtown Findlay for many years to help call attention to gender violence, and in 2017 held a community glow walk to end the silence surrounding violence against women.

Aid also comes in the form of scholarships for young women entering college and for nontraditional female students, to the tune of $170,710 awarded over the past 54 years.

Scholarships and other donations are made possible by the club’s signature fundraisers, including its annual geranium sale, dating back to 1981; and the Zonta Spring Style Show, adopted in 2012. This year’s style show raised $4,000 for Hope House and $6,000 for the Blanchard Valley Health Foundation’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program.

The club also sells branded Dietsch’s candy and Wolfie’s nuts.

Membership dues also help facilitate the club’s good deeds, with a portion of each member’s dues remaining in the local community. The remainder go to Zonta International and district Zonta clubs.

Natal says membership is not limited to people living in Findlay, and is also open to men. The club will host a meet and greet for prospective new members from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Wine Merchant. The event is free to attend.

New members are accepted year-round, and a special rate for young professionals is available. Membership chairwoman Pam Ferris can be reached at pkferris@hotmail.com.

Meetings are held at noon the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Hancock Historical Museum.

The club will host an ice cream social and anniversary celebration from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at the museum. The free event will feature Culver’s ice cream and old-fashioned games and is open to “friends of Zonta,” including past members and members of other service clubs in the area.

The Findlay club was chartered by Mary Dehaven, who died Nov. 29, 2011, at the age of 92.

For its 50th anniversary, club members partnered with the Hancock Park District to create Zonta Landing at Riverside Park. The club donated $5,000 toward the project, which was matched by the park district. The boat livery rents canoes, kayaks and pedal boats seasonally, Memorial Day through Labor Day,

Natal says this year, the club is donating $1,000 to replace the park sign at McManness Avenue and to plant yellow roses at Zonta Landing.

brennagriteman@thecourier.com

Twitter: @BrennaGriteman

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