The neon lights on New York City’s most theatrical thoroughfare pale in comparison to the trailblazing women set to be honored at the fourth annual Divas on Broadway event next month, which will donate to a charitable cause while celebrating the city’s most influential women.
“It’s just such a wonderful afternoon of women supporting each other,” Divas committee member Kristin Bettencourt said. “We have such a great pool of women in Turlock to choose from, and sometimes it’s actually very hard because there are so many people helping and doing good work.”
The event kicked off in 2017 as a way to recognize women in the community who go above and beyond when it comes to service through a luncheon and fashion show. Catered by The Udder Place, the luncheon will feature a raffle and live auction, with all proceeds benefiting The Salvation Army.
The event will get started with a champagne welcome, where some of Turlock’s finest male “celebrities” will greet guests in Divas on Broadway aprons. Appetizers and drinks will also be served during this time, and the luncheon will focus on five female trailblazers.
Bettencourt referred to the 2020 honorees as “quiet soldiers” who can often be found helping behind the scenes. The group includes Debbie Gutierrez, Eileen Hamilton, Megan Patterson, Amy Shamgochian and The Salvation Army’s very own Major Debi Shrum.
“These women may not be on the front lines as the one organizing or planning an event, but they’re definitely doers and their hands are in all kinds of little tasks,” Bettencourt said. “They fill a need wherever they see one or whenever they’re asked.”
Shamgochian is the perfect example of a quiet soldier, Bettencourt said, with years of volunteering under her belt that go far beyond her involvement with Dancing with the Turlock Stars.
A nurse and mother of two, Shamgochian and her family started the Steve-O Shamgo Recycling for Kids project in 2013, which takes recycling funds collected by her son Steve and puts them toward providing Christmas to deserving students as well as a donation to Autism Awareness. Shamgochian also served as president of the Julien Elementary School PTA, is a past president of Turlock High School Sober Grad Nite and organizes friends and family annually to participate in the Autism Awareness Walk. In addition, she volunteers often for The Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event, the Pitman Development Foundation and countless other community events.
Gutierrez has been an avid supporter of Turlock’s We Care Program since its inception and became the shelter manager in 2008. Since then, she’s put in countless volunteer hours and is “always the first to volunteer when anyone needs help,” according to the We Care website. She was not only a single mother to her own four children, but has raised countless other children as well.
Hamilton is a retired educator who spent many years working for Turlock Unified School District, where she found a passion in helping teen mothers prepare for motherhood. After the passing of her husband in 2005, Hamilton and her daughters established the Hobart, Eileen, Laurissa and Elise Hamilton Endowment Fund to support educational programs. Since then, Hamilton found another passion in volunteerism and has given back through teaching grief support classes and volunteering at hospitals, as well as serving on the Boards of Turlock Family Network, Creative Alternatives, TUSD and, currently, UC Merced and Stanislaus Alumni. The list goes on and on, as Hamilton has also volunteered her time with the Turlock Community Theater, Emanuel Medical Plaza, Friends of the Turlock Library, Hospice of Emanuel and hundreds of other student and educational programs.
Patterson has been at the center of community involvement for the past 30 years, and it started with signing up to be the leader of her oldest son’s Cub Scout troop. She helped found Cub Pack 451 and restarted Troop 451, earning numerous awards for her dedication to the scouting program. She’s also been involved with PTA and the TUSD Superintendent’s Advisory Council, as well as Turlock Together and The Salvation Army. Currently, Patterson is an active member of The Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary serving as president. She helped found the Army’s Emergency Disaster Team, and has been awarded Volunteer of the Year by the organization.
Shrum has called Turlock and The Salvation Army her home for the past 41 years, and will soon be retiring from the Corps. Under her direction, programs at The Salvation Army have grown to serve the expanding needs of the community, and she’s a fixture behind the scenes at countless Turlock events. She serves as a role model thanks to her positive attitude and unwavering faith, paving the way for the rest of the community to follow.
“I think the name of the event can be misleading because of the connotation that comes with the description of a woman as a ‘diva,’” Bettencourt said. “Really, these ladies being honored are anything but divas because they do the nitty gritty work. But, on this day we get to treat them like a diva, shower them with flowers and make it all about them.”
Divas on Broadway will be held at noon March 7 at the Carnegie Arts Center, 250 N. Broadway Ave. Individual tickets for the event are $45, and tables at the luncheon or sponsorships may also be purchased. To purchase tickets, contact Beverly Spielman at The Salvation Army at 209-667-6091.