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Foundation honors women who made a difference - So Md News

The basketball swoops through the net and scores.

A scholarship is awarded to a high school soccer player to attend college.

The volleyball team scores, wins the game and goes on to regional competition.

Margaret Dunkle made it possible for these stories to be not only the stories of male athletes, but females as well.

“Title IX: A short law, a big goal, has fundamentally changed us as a society,” Dunkle said.

For her work on a team in the early 1970s who wrote a paper that became the blueprint for Title IX, Dunkle was honored Nov. 7 as a Southern Maryland Community Foundation Philanthropy Hall of Fame inductee.

Dunkle, who lives in Port Republic, was also the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Philanthropy Day Luncheon held by the Southern Maryland Community Foundation and Chaney Enterprises at the Jaycees center in Waldorf. The theme was Celebrating Women with Impact.

Also inducted were Mary Louise Booth Webb, Stephen D. and Shirley Mattingly and the Southern Maryland Women’s League Inc.

As Dunkle began her keynote speech in front of 150 community and foundation members, she said that community foundations are wonderful institutions with the ability to tackle local issues, and celebrating women with impact is a wonderful topic.

In the early 1970s, Dunkle was a member of the team who wrote “What Constitutes Equality for Women in Sports? Federal Law Puts Women in the Running.” Title IX made it possible for women to have the same opportunities in sports as men, but opened other doors for women also.

“Before Title IX, a woman with the best brain and the best grades could be and usually was turned down by law schools, medical schools, practicum schools, professional schools, and it was perfectly legal. There was nothing she could do about it. If she didn’t like it, that was too bad,” Dunkle said.

Wanted ads in newspapers, Dunkle said, specified if an employer wanted a male or female applicant for the position. The Supreme Court did not rule such practices unacceptable until 1973.

“Sports was not the reason that Title IX was enacted, but it was sports that propelled Title IX [into American culture],” Dunkle said. She said it was the most important legislation since women obtained the right to vote in 1920, and was a civil rights issue in 1972. Athletic scholarships were not only unavailable to women, but women were prohibited from obtaining them, and female coaches worked for free.

The Office for Civil Rights took the report that Dunkle and her team wrote and used it as a model to write Title IX, which became law in 1972.

Dunkle, who founded the nonprofit Equality Center and is currently the senior research scientist at George Washington University’s Department of Health Policy, went on to help with other issues after Title IX, including teen pregnancy, autism and early detection of disabilities and delays in children.

“We have made enormous progress and we owe such a debt to those women and those men who came before us,” Dunkle said. But she said it is important for the journey to fairness to continue, because much must still be done to ensure a fair playing field for all.

Dunkle was presented her award by Nila Straka, regional liaison for Sideout Foundation of Fairfax, Va. Straka benefited firsthand from Title IX as a member of women’s field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams in undergraduate school.

At the University of Colorado for graduate school, Straka said she was head coach of the women’s field hockey team. Women athletes struggled with challenges such as having no money to travel for competition. Straka’s team in Colorado qualified for a national competition in Connecticut, she said, and was able to go because the parents of team members raised money.

Straka went on to coach volleyball for 10 years at Charles County Community College, now the College of Southern Maryland, then in the early 1980s was head coach of volleyball at Georgetown University. Still, Straka’s teams were provided limited funds. Straka was part of the group that started the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf for everyone to play sports.

Dorothea Smith, a retired Charles County Public School teacher of 30 years and a member of the CSM Board of Trustees, presented Webb of Bryantown with her award and shared with the audience how she met Webb 20 years ago. Webb, 90, was invited to Smith’s classroom during Black History Month at John Hanson Middle School to share her experiences of growing up on a farm in Bryantown. After retiring in 1995, Smith began to work with Webb in the county.

Webb is the author of “Life on the Farm with Grandma and Grandpa.” Smith said that Webb’s mother died when she was 7 years old. Since her retirement 34 years ago as a nurse in Washington, D.C., Webb has devoted her time to helping others in need. She is also vice president of the Charles County African American Heritage Society.

“We call her our amazing lady, our mother and everything else,” Smith said of society members. “And thank you for recognizing her.”

Webb thanked her friends for attending the luncheon, and said that she plans to continue helping others to make Charles County a better county and make Maryland a better place.

“We all can help one step at a time,” Webb said.

In 1989, the Mattinglys of Mechanicsville were blessed with a son who was born with Down syndrome. At 6 years old, their son, Stephen, was diagnosed with leukemia. He died before his 10th birthday.

Karie Wood, president of the Charlotte Hall Rotary Club, which the Mattinglys are members of and which helps to oversee Stephen’s Fund to support families of children with special needs, presented the couple with their inductee award.

Wood said that Shirley Mattingly is a Wonder Woman who has a Superman, her husband, Stephen. The Rotary Club’s motto is service above self.

“And that’s exactly what the two of them do every day,” Wood said. “They give of themselves to everyone around them.”

Wood said Stephen’s Fund has given more than $30,000 in scholarships to high school students who have participated in programs to help children with special needs.

Stephen Mattingly said when their son was diagnosed with Down syndrome they heard a lot about how to take care of him, but Mattingly thinks their son took care of them.

“He showed us a side of life that we weren’t prepared for in a way,” Stephen Mattingly said. “He just took our hearts and changed them.” Their son’s focus was on his abilities, not his disabilities.

Although their son died 15 years ago, his impact remains with the Mattinglys, and he is the reason they do what they do with Stephen’s Fund.

The Southern Maryland Women’s League is based in Waldorf and has provided almost $170,000 to nonprofit organizations in Southern Maryland, including Catholic Charities’ Angel’s Watch shelter.

SMWL President Brenda Lowe said the group was founded in 2007 by a small group of Southern Maryland women. SMWL has 49 members from all walks of life who are dedicated to sharing information, shared experiences and services, and providing mentoring, friendship and motivational support with each other. The group’s mission is to promote, strengthen and support women in the community with fellowship, educational and mentoring programs.

“Every time we go [to Angel’s Watch] we are just overwhelmed with the blessings that we have,” Lowe said. “So we would just like to pass a little of that love and happiness on to them.”

Lowe said that SMWL works to help women, children and people in need in Southern Maryland. She said she is proud to be a part of a group of dynamic and charitable women who “truly make an impact.”

“I just think it’s a tremendous honor for the foundation to recognize these individuals for their philanthropic efforts,” said Shawn Salta, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors.

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