New sponsorship needed for Distinguished Young Women

Published 9:14pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013

With the Civitan Club stepping down as the lead sponsor of the Distinguished Young Women of Dallas County Scholarship Pageant, the program is seeking donations to stay afloat.

Due to declining membership, the Civitan Club no longer had the means to support the program.

“Our club has lost membership like so many other civic clubs and it got to the point where it was really a struggle to put the program on,” said Ben Holifield, Civitan member and former chairman of the program. “We are going to miss sponsoring it though because it really is great for those who participate.”

The program, formerly known as the Junior Miss Pageant, is hosted every year in August and awards up to $10,000 in scholarship money to its participants. Those who participate are among the top of their class in their grade level.

Demisha Stough, coordinator for the program and past participant, addressed the Dallas County Commission in their regular meeting Monday and urged members to consider donating to the worthy program.

“The program not only provides an enriching experience for these young ladies, but it encourages them to continue their education and provides them with opportunities to positively impact others,” Stough said. “These girls are ambitious and intelligent, they’re just some of the greatest examples of fine young women in Dallas County.”

Over the past 37 years, the program has given scholarships to more than 800 local young women. Nationally, the program has awarded $93 million in scholarship money. When it first began in Dallas County, Stough said the program awarded scholarships to up to 40 girls annually. However, she said in recent years that number has dropped.

“Last year we had 21 young ladies participate in the program,” she said. “As of March, we had 31 express interest. I’d like to see that number increase and the program get stronger.”

With the Civitan Club serving as the main sponsor for the past 37 years, Stough said she is hopeful another area organization or business will take on the challenge and become the program’s new sponsor.

“I would hate to see this great program go to waste,” she said. “It was a very strong program 30 years ago when I was involved with it, and the Civitans have done an outstanding job with this program. What I’m asking is that any local businesses, clubs, organizations or individuals to give whatever you possibly can.”

And although they are no longer the lead sponsor, Holifield said the club will still donate to the program where they can, and he encourages others to do the same.

“I encourage everyone to support the program, it’s a good program,” Holifield said. “I wish we could still sponsor it like we used to, but we just don’t have the membership or the means.”

For more information on the Distinguished Young Women of Dallas County Scholarship Program and how to make donations, contact Stough at 349-0641.

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