One hundred years ago, women were celebrating their right to vote and a new organization, Zonta, was launching to improve the lives of women and children. On Nov. 7, Zonta of the Black Hills is hosting a Centennial Celebration to mark these two milestones.

The Centennial Celebration will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. 

“This year, a free Centennial Celebration is being planned in place of the annual Zonta Expo,” event chair Marti Nisland said. “Like the annual Expo, funds will be raised through phenomenal silent auction baskets, a wall of wine raffle, and a $1,000 cash prize raffle. The funds raised will be granted to organizations that help advance the status of women both locally and internationally. … All proceeds will be given away.”

Congress passed the 19th amendment, which granted women in the United States the right to vote, in 1919. The amendment was ratified in 1920. Amid this new empowerment for women, the first Zonta Club was formed in Buffalo, N.Y. The club’s name is derived from the Lakota word zónta meaning “honest” or “trustworthy.” Today, Zonta is in 63 countries.

“It’s important for the public to know the celebration is for men and women. We are celebrating not only the work of Zonta of the Black Hills – since 1950 we’ve been giving back to the community – but also the work that Zonta International does. Zonta International has a seat at the United Nations. We are a voice for women worldwide,” Nisland said. “When we empower women, we empower families.”

During the celebration, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., people can bid on silent auction baskets and prizes, and enter the wine and cash raffles. Winners will be announced before the close of the celebration; only wine raffle winners must be present to claim their prizes. Raffle tickets can be purchased in advance from all Zonta members, and at the celebration. For the past decade, Zonta has raised about $25,000 a year. The money supports community-based programs and five local scholarships for women. Zonta of the Black Hills also contributes to international projects.

Businesses that would like to promote their products and services at the Centennial Celebration can do so by donating a prize to the silent auction by Nov. 1. Contact Zonta of the Black Hills through its Facebook page, facebook.com/zontacluboftheblackhills for information.

Some silent auction shopping will start a week early, Nisland said. The crown jewels of the silent auction are five grand baskets people can bid on ahead of time on Zonta’s Facebook page.

Two grand baskets focus on wellness and include essential oils, gift certificates for massages and pampering items. There’s a travel basket that includes a travel voucher, a bling basket with jewelry, and a night on the town basket with gift certificates to restaurants and activities in the Black Hills. The silent auction during the Centennial Celebration will include smaller prizes at a variety of price points.

Zonta members are gathering 176 bottles of wine for the wine raffle. There will be five wine raffle winners, each of whom will win 12 to 20 bottles of wine, Nisland said.

Throughout the celebration, the public can visit tables showcasing organizations that received Zonta grant funds in 2018-19:

-- Aglow jail ministry book program

-- Black Hills Children’s Home

-- Career Learning Center of the Black Hills’ GED testing scholarship fund

-- Catholic Social Services’ professional counseling for victims of violent crimes

-- Freedom’s Journey program for victims of human trafficking

-- Lifeways

-- Lutheran Social Services’ Arise Youth Center

-- Passages Women’s Transitional Living

-- Volunteers of America

-- Working Against Violence (WAVI)

-- Youth & Family Services/Girls Inc.

-- Youth in Science and Women in Science

“We’re trying to make it a great celebration,” Nisland said. “We’re trying to do something new and fresh. … We hope people come and celebrate with us.”

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