A Bronx woman has gone from heartbroken to ecstatic — and it all started with a clerical error.
Charise Peace, 29, an East Tremont mother of five, recently received a letter from the NYC chapter of Soroptimist International, a volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, telling her she had won a $3,500 “Women’s Opportunity Award.”
But the bad news was she didn’t win anything at all; the letter was sent to her by mistake.
When Peace called Mae Gamble, the chair of the Soroptimist International Awards Committee of NYC to thank her for the honor, Gamble was flabbergasted.
“This was an unfortunate misunderstanding,” Gamble told amNewYork: While Gamble was out dealing with medical issues, another volunteer was supposed to have sent Peace and 12 other applicants “sorry” letters. The awards are given annually to two to four deserving, needy women who are improving themselves educationally while also supporting other people, such as children or elderly family members.
Peace, who is pursuing a surgical technician degree, detailed her own history of paternal abandonment and abuse in her need-based application, but lost out to a woman whose father and brother had both been killed and another who grew up in a series of foster placements, Gamble said.
But Gamble, a retired professor, felt terrible for having elevated Peace’s hopes only to dash them, and called board members to tell them of the glitch.
“You can tell her she’ll get the money,” said Gamble — a sentiment confirmed later by the Soroptimist International’s NYC president. “It’s going to happen. We’ll borrow from another fund if we have to,” Gamble said.
“That’s a pretty happy ending,” said a delighted Peace, who plans to fix up a donated van with new brakes and other needed parts so she and her family will have reliable transportation. “Initially, I was really down, but it’s a noble thing for them to do that,” said the mother of five children who range in age from 3 months to 12 years.
The NYC Soroptimists have “gone 90 years without making a mistake like this,” said Gamble, 84, who attributed the error to being “not too computer literate.”
She wished the group could award all the applicants. “They’re all working hard and going to school and raising children,” Gamble said.