Zonta Club of Melbourne Empowers Women Through Initiatives, Scholarships
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Zonta Club of Melbourne Empowers Women Through Initiatives, Scholarships

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The 2023 Zonta fundraising holiday ornament featuring Rossetter House, the 1859 homestead of Eau Gallie pioneer John Houston and family.

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This year, Florida Tech aerospace engineering student Trupti Mahendrakar was the first Brevard recipient to win one of the 30 $10,000 Amelia Earhart Scholarships Zonta International awards annually.

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Coaster card offered by Zonta to help those at an establishment with alcohol to test their drinks and make sure they haven't been tampered with.

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Plenty of yumminess at the Zonta Chocolate Festival.

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Previous Zonta Chocolate Festival winners.

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Previous Zonta Chocolate Festival winners.

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Emma Aiken received a scholarship from Zonta Club of Melbourne.

The legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart was very particular about the organizations she would join. Zonta was one of them. It’s understandable that a woman who helped shape the modern world would be interested in a group that changes the world for women everywhere.

Zonta International is a leading global organization of professionals dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The group envisions a world where women’s rights are recognized as human rights and where no woman lives in fear of violence.

The local chapter, Zonta Club of Melbourne, supports that goal both locally and internationally. 

President Sandy Michelson wants to make people realize that both human trafficking and domestic violence can be found in our backyards, not just in the big cities.

Michelson, herself a victim of domestic violence, doesn’t have to go far to provide evidence that it happens right here in Brevard County. Last year, high-profile community volunteer Nadine Cavaliere was allegedly gunned down by her partner of 11 years before he committed suicide. Michelson had often met Cavaliere, a branch manager at Trustco Bank in Melbourne and a Melbourne Regional Chamber Ambassador, at the many community events the two attended. She feels more discussion on the subject of domestic violence is vital. 

“We need to talk about this more and make people aware there is a way out,” Michelson said. 

Through fundraising efforts that include the annual Zonta Chocolate Festival and the sale of Brevard-themed holiday ornaments, Zonta Club of Melbourne financially supports efforts such as Serene Harbor’s planned Nadine Cavaliere Center for Domestic Violence Survivors.

“This is not just a woman’s initiative, because many domestic violence cases are aimed at men,” said club treasurer Donna Melcher.

In the fall, the club participates in the “Zonta Says No” campaign against violence by partnering with local businesses and chambers and through billboards along Brevard highways.   

The club’s latest project addresses a specific form of violence — date rape — by providing women with specially designed coasters that can alert them if their drinks have been laced with drugs. Although leaving the coasters at local pubs and bars has been met with resistance from establishment owners, the Zontians are not discouraged, instead working to distribute the coasters to Eastern Florida State College and Florida Tech students. 

Zonta has a history of empowering women through education with scholarships awarded locally, regionally and internationally. This year, Florida Tech aerospace engineering student Trupti Mahendrakar was the first Brevard recipient to win one of the 30 $10,000 Amelia Earhart Scholarships Zonta International awards each year. Locally, Zonta Club of Melbourne also supports education through three major scholarships.

The Zonta/Meehan Scholarship enables women entrepreneurs to improve their businesses by accessing Florida Tech’s weVENTURE programming and services.

Zonta/EDC Manufacturing Certification allows female recipients to become proficient in foundational skills for the manufacturing industry through a special program at Eastern Florida State College.

Also administered through EFSC, the Zonta/Yellow Dog Café Culinary Scholarship encourages women to pursue a culinary career.

“We are a small but powerful group,” Melcher said. 

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit zontaspacecoast.org

Zonta Chocolate Festival

Pencil in March 3, 2024, for the Zonta Chocolate Festival at The Grand Manor, 1450 Sarno Road, Melbourne. The annual chocoholic’s dream pits Brevard’s best chocolatiers to vie for the coveted “Brevard’s Best Chocolate Fix.” Appetizers and lots of fun are added bonuses to the abundant chocolate samplings. 

Zonta Brevard Ornaments

Since 1999, Zonta has annually selected a local historical landmark to showcase as a hand-painted holiday ornament. This year’s subject is Rossetter House, the 1859 homestead of Eau Gallie pioneer John Houston and his family. In 1904, James Wadsworth Rossetter purchased the property.

Ornaments, both singly and as the entire collection, can be purchased online at zontaspacecoast.org or in person at Meehan’s in downtown Melbourne.  

All proceeds of ornament sales benefit local scholarship programs, community service projects and the local and international fight against human trafficking and violence against women.

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