Steps toward equality

Steps toward equality

Photo Credits: ALLYSON KO / AGGIE

Soroptimist International of Davis provides grants to various organizations

Soroptimist International of Davis, a service club, focuses on improvement for gender equality. It awarded $5,000 to community nonprofits on April 24 at the Davis Odd Fellows Hall for its annual Community Grants Luncheon.

Wendy Weitzel, the president of Soroptimist International of Davis, explained the club’s background.

“Soroptimist International of Davis is a service club chartered on May 1, 1954,” Weitzel said via email. “We celebrated our 65th anniversary on May 1! We’re part of Soroptimist International, which was chartered in Oakland in 1921, and is now all over the world. Our members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls, through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.”

In addition to its focus on service, Soroptimist International is part of a global organization, seeking to provide equality for women and girls in particular.

“Soroptimist International is a global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls. It was founded in Oakland, Calif. in 1921 by a group of 80 women who were denied access to a male service club. The founding members coined the organization’s name from two Latin words, meaning ‘best for women,’” according to Soroptimist International’s website.

​ Liane Moody, the executive director of Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee, noted how it was able to receive one of the Soroptimist International grants.

“They have an online grant proposal, and we were able to talk to members of the committee and create a proposal, and it was actually very simple and we had really quick feedback,” Moody said.

Weitzel expressed that three organizations were able to garner grants that Soroptimist International of Davis provided.

“Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee, which provides immediate assistance to individuals and families below the poverty level in Yolo County,” Weitzel said via email. “The $2,000 goes toward STEAC’s Suit Up for Success Program for women seeking employment. Yolo County Court-Appointed Special Advocates, which advocates for abused and neglected children in the foster system. The $1,500 grant will provide materials to train 15 new CASA volunteers. Yolo Crisis Nursery, which provides qualified emergency child care for female heads of household in Yolo County. The $1,500 grant will support emergency respite child care staffing and related services.”

As one of the recipients, STEAC’s mission underlies support for the community whenever there is a need.

“Our mission supports families and individuals in Yolo County who have incomes that are below the poverty level,” Moody said. “We’re supporting them with basic necessities — we run the food closet in Davis that provides emergency food for those in need, [and] we also have homelessness prevention programs where we help people who are facing an eviction.”

The Soroptimist International grant will specifically assist with STEAC’s Suit Up for Success Program, which has been around for 20 years and has recently come back from a hiatus. Moody explained that the program has been sustained for about four years now, and will continue with the help of the grant.

“We also have our programs that help people on the road to independence, and that is where our Suit Up for Success Program is — the one that the Soroptimist grant is helping to get people with interview clothes so that they can get a job and have the appropriate clothing,” Moody said.

As for future goals for the Soroptimist International of Davis, Weitzel indicated that its overarching goal centers around equality.

“Our goal is gender equality, and to make an impact on the women and girls who need it most,” Weitzel said via email. “We do that through our programs. The Community Grants and high school scholarships are two of our longtime programs.”

Currently, the Soroptimist International of Davis is mainly focusing on its programming.

“The majority of our club’s funding goes into our two signature Dream programs, Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women, and Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls,” Weitzel said via email. “Those are where we’re giving our funds and time directly to women and girls in our community. We’ve won awards for our mentorship program at King High School, the local alternative high school. We offer monthly workshops where girls hear from strong female role models, learn to set achievable goals, and boost their confidence.”

Written by: Stella Tran — city@theaggie.org