On April 6th, 2022, we celebrated our LIVE YOUR DREAM and Trent University Award winners. This year we gave out 4 Live Your Dream Awards totaling $6500. and 2 Trent University Awards.


1st place winner is Natasha Hall. Natasha is attending Fleming College (Frost Campus) in the Forestry program. The untimely death of her father and challenges of her daughter requiring care at Sick Kids, her marriage falling apart, and being laid off due to the pandemic, contributed to her depression. Her father had worked in the forestry industry which influenced her career path. Being a single parent of child with special needs was difficult. Natasha gave a heartfelt thanks to everyone for their support.

This is Natasha’s speech:

My name is Natasha and I just wanted to say thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be here tonight. I’m very thankful and blessed for your support and generosity. I am currently attending Fleming College at the Frost Campus in Lindsay where I am enrolled as a full-time student in the Forestry Technician program. As you can tell I am a mature student; I attended Trent University in 2006 for Environmental Science and I realized very quickly it was not what I expected. I found it was not as “hands on” as I anticipated but I completed two and a half years and ultimately dropped out. I worked in retail for many years, got married and eventually started a family. My daughter was born prematurely and spent some time at Sick Kids but thankfully pulled through. I struggled with postpartum depression in the first month and months after and sleep was a distant memory.

On Oct 3rd 2015, I received a phone call that changed my life forever. My father was rushed to Kingston Hospital by helicopter from Belleville because he had a large aneurysm that they had found during scans that was causing him extreme pain that neither him nor myself had any prior knowledge of. We rushed to Kingston with my 2-month-old daughter to be by his side. The aneurysm ruptured and I had to take my father off life support. My father was my whole world, and we were very close. He worked in the Forestry Industry his entire life and would take me on walks through the forest and teach me everything he knew about trees, nature, and different animals. I was looking forward to my father teaching his only grandchild everything he taught

Eventually my depression got worse over the months after my father’s passing; What was supposed to be the happiest time of my life was filled with so many emotions and dealing with my father’s estate and lawyers and constant phone calls while trying to be the best mother I could off minimal sleep. My marriage quickly fell apart and we ended up separating. I continued to support myself and my daughter working full-time for a local family-owned retail company. Most recently I was laid off from my employment due to lack of business from the pandemic which forced me to face another one of life’s curveballs. I decided that I wanted a better future for myself, and my daughter and I followed my passion. I decided to enroll in the forestry technician program at Fleming College.

I knew that I would be faced with many obstacles being a full-time student and being a single parent of a six-year-old with special needs but my passion to fulfill my dreams keeps pushing me forward. I want to make my daughter and father proud, and I want my daughter to grow up knowing that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

I want to thank my friends and friends for always believing in me. And I especially want to thank Soroptimist for helping me peruse my dreams. Your generosity has helped me tremendously and I am extremely thankful. Again, thank you so much.


2nd place winner Live Your Dream was awarded to Kara Ainsworth. Kara is attending Durham College and is finishing a Business Administration Program. Kara recounted the challenges of living in a 1-bedroom apartment with 2 children while attending college and adjusting to virtual learning during the pandemic. She thanked her family and children who were in attendance and plans to open a food truck this summer.

This is Kara’s speech:

My deepest gratitude goes out to all of the women of Soroptimist for selecting me as a recipient of the Live Your Dream award.  I am honoured to have been recognized in this way and thank you all so much for being here to share in this occasion. I am currently finishing up my last two weeks of the Music Business Management program at Durham College and have somehow kept up my marks amid being dealt with the most stressful period of my life. At this time three years ago, my children and I had just recently been asked to vacate our home of 4 years due to our landlord requiring the home for personal use. Our entire world was suddenly flipped upside down and I was faced with the task of coming up with a solution – quickly! I found a tiny little seasonal cottage on Chemong Lake where we were fortunate enough to spend our summer. We made the most amazing memories and I am forever grateful to have had that opportunity. The end of the season rolled around and I once again had to figure out what our next move would be. That’s when I decided to apply for post-secondary school. 

Applying for college and accepting the offer of admission at Durham College, also meant moving away from our support system. We had to move to a new city where we didn’t know a soul, rent a one-bedroom apartment that was far too small and way too expensive, my 9-year-old daughter at the time, had to change schools and leave her friends behind, my 3-year-old had to be shuttled 30km back and forth each day to her grandparents’ house so I could attend school or on days where I was short for time, she would accompany me on campus. – where faculty and students welcomed her with open arms and now acknowledge her as an MBM alumnus! There have been many sleepless nights and countless tears over the past three years. Add our current climate with COVID and the adjustment to virtual learning to the mix…. And it’s made for an incredibly challenging time. 

That being said, the lessons I’ve learned, both academically and about life in general through this experience have been extraordinary. I went into my program intending to absorb everything I could about the music business with the goal of opening a music venue of my own (and following in my grandma’s footsteps – you might recognize her from The Rockhaven where these meetings used to be held!). And then the pandemic happened, and my goals and dreams shifted. Like a lot of ours did. I was recently reminded of a quote from author, Paulo Coelho –  he said that ‘Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy!’ and so that’s what I’ve decided to do. This coming summer, I’ll be embarking on an entrepreneurial journey into the food truck world and the monetary gift I have received from Soroptimist will go towards bringing my dream to fruition.

I offer my sincere appreciation to each of you. 

SI Peterborough continues with our current fundraisers, delta bingo, gift card sales and we come up with new ideas for fundraisers each year.  This enables us to continue supporting woman financially so they may complete their educational goals. The Eastern Canada Region (ECR) clubs awarded $40,700 to 30 recipients this year. Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA} gave out $2.8 million for education grants to 1700 woman this year. 86% of Live Your Dream (LYD) award winners complete their education and improve their standard of living.


Lily Lalonde is a third-year student studying Political Studies and Public Policy. At Trent she has worked for women’s rights and gender equality.

Abigail Reed is a second-year student in Forensics and Psychology. She talked about her experiences as a volunteer with Girl Guides Canada.