Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Soroptimist International of Valencia has continued providing for the Santa Clarita Community, supporting women through economic hardships, inspiring young girls through career counseling and more.
“Soroptimist is an international organization, and we’re all about empowerment and encouragement of women and girls, socially and economically,” current co-president Nicole Marr said. “We work with the community, we work for the community.”
SI Valencia is one of more than 3,000 clubs that make up Soroptimist International, an organization that has general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Under COVID-19, however, Marr explained that SI Valencia switched up their two biggest events of the year, Bras for a Cause and Gentlemen for a Cause, in order to make them safe.
“We still need to raise the funds because there are still women in need even during the pandemic,” Marr said. “Even more so, when you have people that were losing their jobs – that were unemployed, maybe a loss of income – we knew that it was even more important during the pandemic that we still did our fundraising, did our programs, so that we could still help them.”
The 17th annual Bras for a Cause event in October 2020 was conducted via website rather than in-person, but still consisted of auctioning off themed decorated bras and silent auction baskets for 17 days online.
“We were still able to raise quite a bit of funds that we then turn around and give right back for breast cancer, for Circle of Hope and Sheila R. Veloz [Breast Center at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital],” Marr said.
SI Valencia then switched their Gentlemen for a Cause event, usually an in-person event, into the virtual Games for a Cause event that took place this March. This fundraiser raised money for other main SI Valencia programs, such as Live Your Dream — a program providing grants to women who need support — and Dream It, Be It — a program that empowers junior high and high school girls and provides support in pursuing future careers.
“We sold tickets, and you could upgrade to a VIP ticket and have a charcuterie board and drinks dropped off at your location. It was all virtual, and we played games against each other,” Marr said. “There were close to 70 people online that had purchased tickets, and then you would go into little breakout rooms and compete against each other and then come back. It was a lot of fun and raised a lot of funds for our other main programs.”
Presidential terms for SI Valencia last from July to the following June, therefore co-presidents Nicole Marr and Stephanie Beaty have spent their entire presidential term in quarantine. This was difficult as SI Valencia is a social club that usually meets in-person, however seeing the results of what Soroptimist International of Valencia has done for the Santa Clarita community makes all of the challenges worth it.
“Being able to have a member in our club who came to us, who was applying for one of the Live Your Dream grants, who was a single mother looking to finish college and has now achieved her Bachelor’s degree and is working on her credentials to be a teacher,” Marr said. “We were able to impact her life so much that she was able to continue her education, still care for her family, and is now moving forward to become a teacher.”
This is just one example of a life that has been changed as a result of Soroptimist International of Valencia’s efforts. SI Valencia is there to offer support for women going through economic hardships, as a result of medical expenses due to breast cancer diagnoses, or other unexpected expenses such as a vehicle breaking down. SI Valencia is there to provide support to all women in need.
Women can visit Soroptimist International of Valencia’s website to fill out applications for support, which are constantly being read through by an organization member.
When it comes to future plans for the organization, the next Bras for a Cause event is in its planning stages, hopefully to be held in-person at Hyatt Regency Valencia. This year’s theme will be “Wanderlust: Let the Adventure Begin,” an homage to the year and a half spent in quarantine and the idea of travelling the world once again.
“All of the bras and the live auction baskets will be themed to different countries. So [for example], you’re going to have a bra that is from Greece. You will have a bra that is from Thailand. Then you will have a coordinating basket that would be auctioned off with those bras,” Marr said. “So, it’s kind of like, ‘Take a trip around the world,’ now that we’re coming out of COVID-19.”
Tickets for the fundraising event, which will most likely be taking place towards the end of September or early October, will be sold through Soroptimist International of Valencia’s website in the near future.
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