Nine women to be honored with Susan B. Anthony Award

Stockton Record, CA
Feb 15 2009

Nine women to be honored with Susan B. Anthony Award

Award recipients chosen for their community work

By Lori Gilbert Record Staff Writer February 15, 2009 6:00 AM

The last of two lunch periods at Weston Ranch High School was about to
begin, and the Black Student Union’s second lunch meeting was minutes
from starting.

Hilda Curry, who’d been at the first lunch meeting, had to leave. The
woman, who volunteers her time to the organization, had to get to
Sacramento to pick up her 6-year-old granddaughter from school.

"I"ll bring those fliers for the Miss Black Tracy," Curry told senior
Unique Johnson as she headed for the door.

"I know you will," Johnson answered.

Curry is known to follow through on her promises. She’s also known to
volunteer her time to Black Student Union members in schools from
Tracy to Stockton. Helping young people, and other people with needs,
has been as important to Curry as driving 6-year-old granddaughter
Aiyana Hendricks to and from school.

Her lifelong devotion to others has led the San Joaquin County
Commission on the Status of Women to award Curry a Susan B. Anthony
Award for community service.

The annual awards to women of achievement also will be presented to
Janice Dodson, Marcia Elam, Victoria Markarian, Geneva Bell-Sanford,
Carrie Sass, Suzanne Yip Schultz, Daphne Shaw and Latifah Zarif at a
banquet today at Brookside Country Club. It begins at 4:30 p.m.

Curry can hardly recall a time in her life when she hasn’t helped
others.

One of the elder of 18 children raised in Donaldsonville, La., Curry
and her sister cooked, cleaned and ironed clothes to help her mother,
who worked full time.

At 18, while living with a sister in Bloomington, Ill., she answered
her uncle’s request to move to Oakland and help care for his alcoholic
wife and granddaughter, whom he’d adopted.

Even the jobs she held when she and her late husband, Melvin, moved to
Stockton were service-oriented. She was a social worker for Mountain
Valley Regional Center, helping children and adults with developmental
disabilities. She started a business to handle the finances of Social
Security recipients addicted to drugs and alcohol, who could not, or
would not, pay their bills. She ran Positive Self Images School to
teach young women about everything from fashion and hair care to diet
and nutrition, exercise and etiquette.

"When I was younger, I lived with an aunt in Oakland and attended John
Robert Powers School in San Francisco. I thought I wanted to be a
model," Curry said. "Then I went to a school called Charms Unlimited
in Berkeley. They taught self-esteem, walking, speaking in public,
dressing for success. After all that, I decided I wanted to work with
young adults."

Giving young people self-esteem is what she continues to strive to do
when she goes to their BSU meetings.

"I talk about etiquette, going out looking for jobs in the community
and how they should represent themselves," Curry said.

She also keeps them informed about the black college tour she annually
chaperones and the black graduation organized by the Black Employees
Association of the Stockton Unified School District.

She’s not the official BSU club adviser at the schools, but her
contribution is just as important.

"She helps us with the black college fair and with ideas," Weston
Ranch’s Johnson said.

Curry, who has been involved with BSU for about 15 years, said
longtime SUSD educator and administrator Mary Flenoy-Kelley is behind
her involvement in the schools.

Kelley remembers it differently.

"Our children were students together at St. Mary’s, and my first
recollection of Hilda was at a parent meeting," Kelley said. "She was
helping to do something and trying to recruit everyone who came
through that door. Persistently so. She’s a hard worker who loves her
community, loves working with kids."

Curry, who declines to give her age, said she relates to kids well
because she shows them mutual respect.

"I think she connects through silence," Kelley said. "She’s a good
listener. She listens to kids. She doesn’t have a grandiose plan for
them. She listens to determine how she can best work with
kids. Sometimes they tell her things more readily than they would
other people because she does listen."

What Curry most hopes is that she’s encouraging those young people to
get an education and think about what they’ll do after graduating from
high school.

Though she never became a teacher, Curry spent endless amounts of time
in classrooms, those of her own two children, now grown, and of
others.

"I love being around children," Curry said. "Children are our future."

The other Susan B. Anthony Award winners who will be honored today:

Janice Dodson, community service

Service to women young and older has been the hallmark of Dodson’s
work. She’s worked on programs as diverse as Planned Parenthood and
Reading is Fundamental, which distributes books for children at the
Transitional Learning Center, a school for the homeless. Dodson’s
efforts go toward promoting equity, education, intellectual growth,
self-esteem and opportunities for girls and women.

Marcia Elam, community service

One of Elam’s favorite causes is All About Me, an enrichment program
for high school girls that promotes moral values, develops leadership
skills, and career and educational enhancements.

Victoria Markarian, community service

Voter activism – from running mock elections for students to helping
older women get out and vote – is a big part of Markarian’s outreach,
but she also has worked with the Armenian Relief Society to raise
money and supplies for people in need.

Geneva Bell-Sanford, community service

Children are at the heart of Bell-Sanford’s community work,
particularly children with HIV. She’s also been involved in trying to
curb youth violence.

Carrie Sass, business

The former marketing director for The Record, Sass opened her own
public relations firm and one of her many continuing contributions to
the community is organizing Family Day at the Park, an interactive
book and literacy fair for families. She also is involved with Women
Center programs, the Child Abuse Council and Girls Scouts, among other
organizations.

Suzanne Yip Schultz, law and legal services

The coordinator of Family Crimes in the District Attorney’s Office,
Schultz is responsible for the prosecution of domestic violence, child
abuse, sexual abuse and elder abuse. As a community volunteer, she
serves on the Lodi Senior Citizens Commission, which focuses on meals
for seniors, housing and health issues.

Daphne Shaw, health care

A mental health advocate, Shaw has served on state and local advisory
boards, helping to ensure fair and equitable treatment for patients
with mental illness.

Latifah Zarif, education

A teacher at the Clara Mohammed School, Zarif has been a longtime
advocate for children to receive a quality education. She has taught
parenting skills to young mothers and helped in classrooms in her
pursuit of educating children.

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Emil Lazarian

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