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Lifetime Achievement  Award: Gary and Cherry SchwartzLifetime Achievement Award: Gary and Cherry Schwartz

Lifetime Achievement  Award: Gary and Cherry SchwartzThe Straight River Women of Today (SRWT) chapter was extended by the Owatonna Women of Today in 1981 when Cherry Schwartz was District Director. Gary Schwartz has been a member/advisor to Straight River, whose members were special needs, since they were chartered. They met monthly for many years at the Careers Training Center, a sheltered workshop where many members worked. They grew to about 50 members maximum and worked with the Owatonna Women of Today, Owatonna Jaycees and several local groups to sponsor programming.

Officers were elected every 6 months; paperwork, etc., was completed by "advisors" who also arranged programs at meetings and set up fundraising. Their major fundraiser for many years was a pumpkin harvest in a local farmer’s field and then marketing them.

About 1990, the pumpkin harvest ended as the city fall festival was scrapped. They then began working with the Owatonna Jaycees to help with fertilizer spread and took over the entire project when the Jaycees quit. They had up to 80 customers, and spread fertilizer and crabgrass preventer/fertilizer, as well as sprayed for broadleaf weeds twice a year.

Over the next 30 years they raised over $200,000. This money was donated to several charities, many of which were for people with special needs. This included Owatonna Parks and Recreation for their programming for special needs individuals, adaptive playground equipment for Jaycee Park (with grants from the Women of Today Foundation), flowers for the planter each year, and handicapped accessible picnic tables at the Jaycee Park. There is a plaque at the park with credit to the MNWT Foundation for the adaptive playground equipment.


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A state organization of the United States Women of Today.