Dare to Dream grant gives four So. Md. women a boost

Encouraged to pursue their personal goals and keep community spirit alive

Friday, May 21, 2010

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Yvonne Lynn Patton, left, Cristal Toribio, Anne Harrison and Patricia Acton Killebrew stand at the Association of University Women Patuxent River Branch's "Dare to Dream" grant awards ceremony.

Some people dream of winning $1 million.

Four Southern Maryland women did not receive that much but they were awarded enough to make each of their dreams just a little closer to becoming reality.

Last week at the Phillips House in Prince Frederick, Yvonne Lynn Patton of Chaptico, Patricia Acton Killebrew of La Plata and Cristal Toribio of Chesapeake Beach each were awarded with the American Association of University Women Patuxent River Branch's "Dare to Dream" grant.

Rachel Harris of Waldorf also was awarded the grant this year but did not attend Thursday's award ceremony and dinner.

Anne Harrison of the American Association of the University Women said she started the grant — now in its fourth year — because there are already a lot of grant programs for high school and college students, but not as many for older women who already have jobs yet still have dreams.

"I wanted to do something for women 18 and over who might still need a boost," she said of the grant, which may be as much as $300 for each honoree. "Sometimes a little bit makes a big difference. … Sometimes it doesn't take a lot to get people over a hump and on a route."

When it comes to who receives the grants, Harrison said the association is looking for service to self as much as service to others.

"All of these grants eventually give back to the community," she said.

As an art teacher at Mechanicsville Elementary School for 27 years, Patton said she wanted to find something in which both she and her students could gain.

She will be using the grant to attend a weeklong art program in Georgia to learn glass fusing, which she hopes to be able to incorporate into some of her classes.

"I'd like to do it with my kids; I'd like to do it for myself, too," Patton said.

Toribio said she would be using her grant to obtain a primary group fitness certification.

She said as a College of Southern Maryland student and single mother, she needs flexibility in her schedule, which she thinks being able to create her own fitness class will allow.

"Having something that I can do part time makes a huge difference," Toribio said.

Acton Killebrew is using the grant for the website of a nonprofit she started in February.

The nonprofit, "The Power of One Life Example," promotes education, literacy and community involvement in La Plata, she said.

Her organization's first initiative, Acton Killebrew said, was scholarships for two La Plata High School students.

"I met them last week at the school; it was very exciting," she said.

"Dare to Dream" veterans Gwen Coleman of Chaptico and Susan Onofrio of Huntingtown, both of whom received grants last year, also attended the dinner and said they had been able to put their grants to good use.

Onofrio even decided to join the American Association of University Women herself. "I like to encourage another to continue their education, especially women," she said.