When Adriana Villegas Garibay saw people holding roses Wednesday at the Old Mill Center for Children and Families in Corvallis, she assumed they were for someone else.
But Villegas Garibay, a bilingual home visitor at the Center, had no words when she found out the roses were for her.
The Zonta Club of Corvallis, a women’s service advocacy group, surprised more than 60 people with roses Wednesday as a part of its 19th annual Rose Day, which recognizes exceptional community service and coincides with International Women’s Day. This year’s Zonta Rose Day theme was “Empower and Celebrate Racial and Cultural Diversity.”
For Villegas Garibay, who helps Spanish-speaking families connect with area health navigators, that theme is something she practices every day.
“Acknowledging and celebrating diversity is very important for me. Bringing it and promoting it is something I’m always trying to do,” she said. “It’s very surprising, but I’m really grateful to be acknowledged for that.”
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Villegas Garibay was one of several women who received roses Wednesday at the Old Mill Center, a full-service provider of preschool, mental health, early intervention and parent support for children and families.
Shirley Blake, parent engagement coordinator at the center, said she was humbled to receive a rose.
“Sometimes the work that we do seems like an uphill battle,” Blake said. “So it’s really nice to get recognition and see that people value this work, because it is important work that needs to be done for our future.”
Blake, who has lived in Benton County her whole life, said she learned the value of support services at a young age and makes it her life’s work to pay her community back.
“People were able to help me growing up, and I really want to give that back to the community,” Blake said. “And I’m a mom myself and I think about our future and when I see something that needs to be done, I want to work toward that.”
Chelsea Shay, teacher in the intensive treatment services classroom, also received a rose Wednesday.
“It’s not why we do the work, but it’s nice to be recognized,” Shay said.
Zonta Club of Corvallis members delivered roses all over Benton County Wednesday, keeping up a tradition that dates back to March 8, 1999. Rose Day honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions in the efforts to empower women or to provide leadership in addressing community social issues.
Zonta Club member Diana Simpson said the selection committee focused on those making strides in promoting diversity, such as Oregon State University’s Crossroads International, teachers in Benton County schools, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center staff and those on the MLK Celebration Planning Committee.
“We wanted to focus on people helping break barriers and promoting diversity,” Simpson said. “We thought it was particularly important, given circumstances both locally and nationally, that we continue to support and promote racial and cultural diversity. Zonta’s mission is to advocate for the rights and status of women worldwide and this is a way we can do that locally.”
Founded in 1919, Zonta International is a global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Corvallis club, founded in 1940, has more than 65 members and is one of more than 1,200 Zonta clubs worldwide.