Zonta honors CMOO founder Shaver

The Oswego chapter of women’s service organization Zonta International on Tuesday honored Children’s Museum of Oswego founder Jillian Shaver with its Amelia Earhart Women of Achievement Award. Pictured above, Shaver, in pink, is joined by former Amelia Earhart winners Eleanor Sereno, Kathy Fenlon, Linda Eagan, Jillian Shaver, Mary Shanley, Cheryl Rogers, Peg McKinstry, and Inga Back.

OSWEGO — The Port City chapter of women’s service and advocacy group Zonta International on Tuesday honored Children’s Museum of Oswego founder Jillian Shaver with its 35th annual Amelia Earhart Women of Achievement award.

The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center was filled with excited guests, former Amelia Award winners, scholarship recipients, and proud Zontians, many adorned with the Zonta Gold, for the cherished annual celebration of Oswego’s outstanding female leaders.

Having settled in Oswego in 2012 with her family, Shaver discovered a lack of places for kids to learn and play and that’s when her mission began.

“I am big believer of hands-on education, I believe children can be anything if given the opportunity,” Shaver said. “Children’s museums are absolutely necessary.”

The Children’s Museum of Oswego (CMOO) re-opened the very same day of the Zonta ceremony, marking the end of an extensive renovation project.

With the help of devoted family and many member of the community who believed in Shaver’s vision, CMOO earned $1.35 million through grants and tireless fundraising efforts.

Shaver not only wanted to create CMOO for her children to have a place to play but also for the community to help children learn, build problem solving skills and bring meaning to many children’s lives.

“Nothing is going to be easy,” she said, reminiscing on advice she shares with her children.  “But it is always worth it.”

Shaver is a graduate of George Washington University with a degree in childhood development and psychology. She was also recognized by Sen. Patty Richie in 2016 as a Woman of Distinction.

The Amelia Earhart Women of Achievement Award is given to an outstanding woman in the community in honor of Amelia Earhart, a member of Zonta herself. The awarded was presented to Shaver by 2018 Amelia Award winner Linda Eagan.

Founded in Buffalo, NY in 1919, Zonta is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. It has grown into a global force of empowering and improving the live of women. In 1955, the Oswego chapter was formed further spreading the goals of equality.

At Tuesday’s dinner, Zonta officials also presented several remarkable young ladies with scholarships to foster their great future achievement.

The Young Women in Public Affairs scholarship was awarded to Velvet Howland of Hannibal and The Jane M. Klausman Women in Business scholarship was awarded to Kassidy L. Myers of Mexico.

This was a special year for the high school student scholarships, typically awarded to one student. This year two young ladies particularly stood out, Zonta officials said, and Willow Su Knapp of Oswego and Jenna Ruzekowski of Central Square will share the scholarship.

 “Women’s rights are human right,” said Zonta’s Tammy Thompson at the close of the ceremony. “Our goal is to make it possible for women to be successful without fear.”

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