Zonta Club of Everett members (from left) Marilyn Kent, Judith Strand, Cindy Phillips and Linda Lepak chat while standing on Colby Avenue in Everett in an effort to raise awareness about violence against women on Friday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Zonta Club of Everett members (from left) Marilyn Kent, Judith Strand, Cindy Phillips and Linda Lepak chat while standing on Colby Avenue in Everett in an effort to raise awareness about violence against women on Friday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Zonta Club of Everett works to protect women from violence

EVERETT — When she was a pediatric nurse, she tended to traumatic injuries.

She remembers a young woman who was admitted into the hospital. Her boyfriend had shot her.

Medical personnel were told to keep quiet. The man was supposedly in a gang.

“We were all under the impression that they would come back to finish the job,” retired nurse Lyn Kent said.

She spent her career caring for girls who were targeted in acts of violence. She helped them heal as best as she could.

After retiring, she joined Zonta, an international organization with a mission to support women and protect them from violence. With help from the United Nations, Zonta has implemented advocacy projects worldwide.

Local chapters are scattered around 67 countries. The Everett chapter has contributed to projects closer to home for the past 87 years.

A handful of members donned small orange ribbons Friday, a symbol for the Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women campaign. They bundled up for the November chill and set up a table with information about the campaign in downtown Everett.

More women and men are affected by violence than one might think, Kent said. Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County received 5,706 calls to their hotline last year.

Linda Lepak, president of the Everett chapter, was a victim of violence. She knows other people who also were victims.

Many don’t like to talk about it, she said.

In past years, Zonta Club of Everett has participated in clothing drives, asking for business clothes that women can wear to job interviews. Members cook a meal once a month at Cocoon House, a nonprofit that assists young people in finding a safe place to live. They also hosted a forum for students at Edmonds Community College about human trafficking.

A fundraiser gala is scheduled for February. They hope to collect $40,000, Lepak said.

The club has donated more than $1.5 million to local organizations and international projects.

In addition to raising money, Zonta International also offers scholarships to women across the world. One is named after Amelia Earhart, the legendary aviator and a fellow Zonta member. It is awarded to women working toward a doctoral degree in aerospace studies. Scholarships for women pursuing careers in business or public affairs also are available.

Despite the club’s long-standing history in Everett, not many people know about it, said Judith Strand, member and former president.

“We’re the best-kept secret in Everett,” she said.

Cindy Phillips joined in 1982 when she was 23. A former boss introduced her to the organization. The club became a place of personal and professional growth. She travels around the world for Zonta’s international projects.

“When I joined, I couldn’t stand up in a room and say my name without turning beet red,” Phillips said.

Over the years, membership has dwindled to 30 members. They’re looking for young women to keep the club.

“I’ve been actively working for women’s rights since 1968,” Strand said. “We’re trying to stay relevant.”

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

Zonta Club

For more information about Zonta Club of Everett, go to www.zontaeverett.org or email info@zontaeverett.org.

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