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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Soroptimist is 100 Years Old!

What is Soroptimist? Loosely translated, Soroptimist means Best for Women. Soroptimist is a volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

100 years ago, at a time when women weren’t admitted to service clubs, Soroptimist was chartered in Oakland, CA. Who knew that the organization would become worldwide in North America, Latin America and the Pacific Rim? It is made up of local clubs around the world, such as Soroptimist International of Napa, celebrating 82 years of service this year, and whose focus has remained the same: to help women and girls be their best!

When women and girls are educated, they have opportunity, choice and power to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families. However, locally and around the world, it is the women and girls who make the sacrifices, often forgoing education. In many countries today women and girls are still denied the right to education!

Soroptimist’s vision is that women and girls will have the resources and opportunities through education to reach their full potential and live their dreams. They have grown from that first club chartered in Oakland, CA in 1921 to being a “Global Voice” for women with representation at the United Nations in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Rome, Paris, Nairobi and Bangkok.

Locally, as Soroptimist International of Napa celebrates their 82 years, they have reflected on the hundreds of women and girls, organizations and projects that they have supported in the community – through hands-on projects, grants and scholarships and the friendships they have made.

Current President Leigh Krieger, says of Soroptimist, “To me, being in this group has been a joy. Each woman in the group has helped me grow as a young woman in life and business. The work we have done with the Monarch Justice Center, creating a safe place for women and their families during a difficult situation, and being able to give out scholarships – I know has helped women achieve their goal, is something pretty remarkable!”

The Napa club has made a difference with hands-on projects that include The Monarch Justice Center, NEWS, mentoring Mariposa “S” high school girls, Girls on the Run, Brenda’s Bras and making cuddle blankets for the Napa County Foster Care program.

One of Soroptimist’s most impactful awards for women is the annual Live Your Dream Education and Training Award. To qualify, you must be Head-of-Household, have financial need and be accepted or enrolled in college or a trade school. 2019 Live Your Dream winner Alexandra Garcia remarked, “Since being awarded the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award, I transferred from NVC to Sonoma State University. Your generous award was very much the recognition I needed to support the change of life I was pursuing. I received AS degrees in Human Services and Psychology at NVC. I currently have one semester left at Sonoma State University, in Spring 2022 I will graduate with my Bachelors in Psychology. I maintained a 3.8 GPA and have been on the Dean’s List every semester. I have decided to continue my education and apply to graduate schools. My goal is to one day, very soon, empower young women to make positive choices and break the cycle of generational curses.”

The first-place Live Your Dream, Education and Training Award winner receives a cash award to use anyway she needs to achieve her goals, and receives support throughout the holidays, but more importantly, the recognition and encouragement to attain her goals. She also has the opportunity to win at the district, region and national level of Soroptimist.

Other ways that Soroptimist International of Napa improves the status of women and girls:

• The Violet Richardson award, named after Founding President Violet Richardson, which honors 14 to18 year old girls for their volunteer work, receiving $500, and $500 to a charity of their choice.

• Girls think Green!, a newly developed program for middle school girls in Napa, started during the pandemic. The program educates on “green” living, exploring the many ways this can be done, what it means, and provides a competition for the girls to come up with a green project, awarded with a cash prize. The program is supported by community experts and mentors. Girls think Green! was very successful its first year, especially since it was conducted on Zoom!

• The “Future is You” scholarship for graduating high school senior girls of NVUSD, funds six $1,000 scholarships each spring, with an emphasis on girls who are overcoming extenuating circumstances or first-time college goers.

• Fellowship, a regional program, gives grants to women in the final phase of their doctoral degree. Annually eight to ten $10,000 scholarships are awarded each May to some pretty amazing women!

Sadly, there is much work to do to improve the status of women and girls, and the impact and needs of Soroptimist International of Napa are greater than ever. The annual Lobsterfest fundraiser has been postponed to 2022 due to Covid. $10,000 is the goal to keep current programs afloat. You can help! Just 100 donors at $100 each will make a difference! Of course, all amounts are appreciated and accepted.


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