What is a Soroptimist?
Soroptimist International [ http://www.soroptimist.org ] was founded in 1921 by Violet Richardson and like minded women who were leaders in their professions, at their best, to help women be their best (Soro/women, optima/best). Our club members work on several projects throughout the year with others in our community as well as through international partnerships and a global network of members. Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls by: advocating for equity and equality; creating safe and healthy environments; increasing access to education; and developing leadership and practical skills for a sustainable future.
Our projects change over the club years but primarily focus in the following areas:
'''Women’s Health:''' Breast Cancer Awareness - supporting education and funding by being information Hosts on race day at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure [http://www.komenoc.org/]. We raise awareness and participate in advocacy campaigns about breast and heart health by providing educational lectures and resources during the club year.
'''Poverty and Homeless:''' we have hands on projects helping out as needed at OCIS (Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter), going on educational field trips with the kids, cleaning and organizing the clothes/supply closet and involving the women and children at the homeless shelter in projects. We also volunteer at and donate clothes to Women Helping Women who are working to get women back to work and self sufficiency.
'''Leadership and Economic Empowerment:''' we have hands on involvement bringing “From Dreams to Reality – Career & Finance Workshops” (a Girl Scout program) to middle school girls in our community. Club members are Career Representatives sharing their careers with the girls and they are “Reality Store” Guides assisting the girls as they learn budgeting and the cost of living in today’s world. We facilitate “Soroptimist LIFELINE 4 GIRLS,” our interactive domestic violence prevention program for teens in partnership with Girls, Inc. of Orange County and STOP-GAP Theatre.
'''Human Rights:''' Soroptimists are Working to Stop Trafficking – club members raise awareness about Human Trafficking working together to stop trafficking through community presentations, and awareness walks, as well as to provide resources including Fair Trade. We partner with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. [ http://www.egovlink.com/ochumantrafficking/ ] and other community organizations to Stop Trafficking such as Live2Free [ http://www.live2free.org/ ].
Soroptimist Workplace Campaign to End Domestic Violence on November 25 – club members pass out purple crisis hotline cards and information leaflets at businesses throughout the community each fall. The leaflets have information about signs to look for in your coworker’s or friend’s, or family member’s behavior when she may need help or be going through a domestic violence situation. [ http://dailypilot.com/articles/2009/11/24/townhall/ doc4afcf2db935e3747645430.txt ] [ http://www.saynotoviolence.org/join-say-no/soroptimist-workplace-campaign-end-domestic-violence ]
'''International Voice:''' We interact with the United Nations with club members attending the CSW (Commission on the Status of Women) [http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/] each March in New York at the United Nations to learn about our global progress and to engage in dialog and advocacy to improve the lives of women and girls. We collaborate with the Orange County branch of UNIFEM – United Nations Development Fund for Women [ http://www.unifem.org/ ] and other arms of the United Nations to share our programs and actions to inspire and ignite others to join us in our mission [ http://www.saynotoviolence.org/ ].
'''International Project:''' Project Sierra: Every four years Soroptimist International partners with other organizations to work on an international project which will span four years and continue by being self sustaining afterwards. “Women and children often suffer most from the horrific legacy of war. Soroptimist is working in partnership with Hope and Homes for Children over the next four years to raise $2 million to improve the quality of life and the future opportunities for families living in five communities located in Bo, Freetown , Kamakwie, Makeni, Mattru and Tambakha. The project will provide a caring family and secure foundation in life to orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children and help women living in acute poverty thru Project Sierra: A Family And A Future.” [ http://www.projectsierra.org ]
'''Recognition for Making a Difference:''' We recognize remarkable women and girls in our community who are helping other women and girls to live their dreams and be their best. [ http://www.soroptimist.org]
''Violet Richardson Award:'' recognizes and honors young women between the ages of 14 and 17 who make the community and world a better place through volunteer efforts such as: fighting drugs, crime and violence; cleaning up the environment; and working to end discrimination and poverty.
''Women's Opportunity Awards:'' assists women who, as head of their households, must enter or return to the work force, or upgrade their employment status. This financial award program enables these women to gain the additional education and skills training they need to provide adequately for themselves and their families.
''Ruby Award:'' acknowledges women who are making a difference working to improve the lives of women and girls through their personal or professional activities. Their efforts help to promote the issues that are important to the Soroptimist organization. Honorees are women who have worked in extraordinary ways to benefit women and girls. Examples of the type of work honored include: spearheading an effort to open a domestic violence shelter, working to secure health services for low-income women, starting a mentoring program for at-risk girls, or lobbing companies to provide on-site child care.
''The Live Your Dream Campaign:'' inspires women and girls to live their dreams and encourages them to pass on their good fortune to others. The campaign celebrates the unique power and accomplishments of women and girls just like you. When women help themselves and one another, amazing things can happen. We have an annual Live Your Dream Art Contest in which school children are invited to submit their art work of a women who inspires them. The winners are unveiled in March for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. [ http://www.soroptimist.org/LiveYourDream/ ]
Soroptimists of Newport Harbor Area are committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realize aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong and peaceful communities worldwide.