A women's service club with chapters throughout San Diego and around the world has been breaking down barriers for more than 100 years.
The local South Bay chapter of Altrusa International has been around for more than 60 years, lifting up women and primarily focusing on literacy projects.
More than a century ago, Mamie L. Bass couldn't join service organizations such as Kiwanis or Rotary Club because she was a woman, so she started her own club.
It has grown into Altrusa International, with chapters all over the country, and around the world. Shauna Stokes has been a member of the Chula Vista chapter for more than 30 years.
"Our theme for this year for our club is breaking down barriers and our vision is leaders and service, making a difference in South Bay and internationally," she explains.
There are 42 women active in the Altrusa International South Bay chapter. This year they initiated their first male member; in that sense they're breaking their own barriers as well.
They've been busy despite the pandemic, and because of it. As the need this past year has grown, one project that's kept them particularly busy is helping students from four local school districts who are living in hotels, shelters or in vehicles.
The Altrusa South Bay chapter has donated whatever the students' greatest needs might be: "everything from sweatshirts to shoes, socks, hygiene items, games, puzzles and books," Shauna says.
Shauna says she inherited her passion and commitment to helping others from her parents, and through Altrusa, her dedication to service has given her leadership skills and lifelong friendships.
"It shows that you know we can be connected, and we can serve, and truly," she adds, "your heart gets bigger."
Because of her dedication to serving those in need, ABC10News and LEAD San Diego have chosen Shauna Stokes as our ABC10News Leadership Award Winner for the month of May.