Since 1956, the Pleasanton/Dublin chapter of Soroptimist International has served the community through a multitude of projects to benefit women and girls. This past November, the chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary and hosted a tea that raised money to benefit the Sophia House in Oakland, which serves children and families at risk for homelessness. Such actions are typical of the Soroptimists. Even when they are celebrating, they are helping the community.
"We're a very involved service organization, devoted to benefiting women and girls," says chapter President Gloria Bragg. "The word 'soroptimist' means 'best for women.'"
What has become an international organization of business and professional women across 120 countries and territories began right here in the Bay Area in Oakland in 1921. Eighty women created Soroptimists because, at that time, women who were interested in volunteer service were not permitted to join male service organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis. Since then, the organization has worked to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world.
Soroptimist offers several programs, including the Soroptimist Workplace Campaign to End Domestic Violence, Women's Opportunity Awards, and the Violet Richardson Award. The latter two programs are a focus of the Pleasanton/Dublin chapter's efforts.
"We participate in the Violet Richardson Award program that targets girls ages 14 to 17 who perform volunteer work in their communities," explains Bragg. "Money is awarded to those organizations for which the girls volunteer. We also participate in the Women's Opportunity Award that awards money to women who are heads of their households and are back in school working toward their degrees. Currently, we are supporting efforts to end prostitution of women and children in foreign countries."
Examples of local projects supported by the chapter are the Tri-Valley Haven program providing tote bags with personal essentials for women upon leaving the homeless shelter and the Dublin Partners in Education program that supplies blankets for children. Soroptimist also organizes clubs for high school girls known as "S-Clubs".
"The purpose of these clubs is to get young women involved in volunteering for their communities," adds Bragg. "Each high school has its own club that is sponsored by a teacher. But because of high demands on teachers' time these days, it's been difficult to find a sponsor at each high school."
The Pleasanton/Dublin chapter is always looking for women who want to be of service. All women are welcome to join, whether they are currently in business or a profession or have left the business world. The chapter meets at 12 noon on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at Vic's All Star Kitchen on Main Street in Downtown Pleasanton.
For more information about the Pleasanton/Dublin chapter, contact Ms. Bragg at (925) 462-8653, or join the chapter for a lunch meeting at Vic's. To learn more about Soroptimist International, visit the organization's web site at www.soroptimist.org .
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