WATSONVILLE — Wednesday night was for the ladies in Watsonville.
More than 50 women, in addition to a number of men, gathered at the Watsonville Elks Lodge during the first “Wonderful Women of Watsonville” event.
The event served as a way to “honor the women who use their time, energy and passion to improve the quality of life here in Watsonville,” said Lisa Tollner, director of Pajaro Valley Community Alliance, which put on the event with Watsonville Regional Airport Promotion.
“We are here to celebrate women of all ages and all walks of life,” she said.
That was certainly the case, as 18-year-old Abigail Acosta received a scholarship and longtime Watsonville resident Rhea DeHart’s 95th birthday was celebrated.
Acosta, a Cabrillo College student who graduated from Monte Vista Christian School in June, was the recipient of the inaugural Lorraine E. Stucki Educational Scholarship.
The $1,000 scholarship was formed in honor of Lorraine Stucki, a longtime Watsonville resident who died in August at age 86. Santa Cruz County Women’s Commissioner Ari Parker said Stucki’s commitment to the community was “unparalleled,” whether it be tackling senior issues, flood control along the Pajaro River and more.
“She especially encouraged the women in her life to get out there and actively participate,” Parker said.
Acosta, in addition to attending Cabrillo College full-time to study English and journalism, works at Martinelli’s Company Store and has interned at the Register-Pajaronian for more than a year.
“I was very close with Lorraine,” she said. “She was always looking out for me, and she was just such a wonderful woman.”
DeHart, a retired teacher who continues to be involved in numerous community organizations, received a standing ovation after she was serenaded with “Happy Birthday.”
DeHart said her message is for everyone to “be involved” in their community, whether it be running for office or calling their representative with concerns.
“Local government is the most important government,” she said. “Local government directly affects your life.”
The audience got a taste of local government as guest speaker Anna Caballero, state assembly member for the 30th District, described her time in politics as well as her career as an attorney.
“My advice to women is, you’ve got the skills to be involved in politics or the head of an organization,” she said. “Don’t shortchange yourself. You have the ability.”
Those interested in attending future events are encouraged to leave their contact information at 430-2053.