Members of Soroptimist International St Albans & District held an Open Evening to explain more about the work that Soroptimists do to make a difference to the lives of women and girls locally, nationally and internationally.
We had Soroptimist speakers, speakers from local businesses, lots of guests and great fun learning about each other with while tying ourselves up with ribbons (too difficult to explain – you will need to ask!).
Sue Wybrow, the founder of St Albans Businesses www.facebook.com/groups/stalbansbusinesses/ talked about making connections with local organisations and the challenges/opportunities of running your own business/enterprise.
Claire Suttee who runs Atlas Translations, spoke about how she organises the Polar Bear Plunge www.polarbearplunge.org.uk on New Year’s Day each year at the St Albans Sub-Aqua Club. More than 500 people are involved. There are opportunities for fancy dress, loads of volunteers, people making hot food, polar bear medals, musicians, firemen, lifequards. £5000 raised for charity last year.
Claire and Sue are candid, lively and really interesting speakers – they are pictured above sandwiched between Soroptimist Club President Rita Andrews (with the Club Mascot Sally Bear) on the left and Amanda Brown the Club’s Membership Officer (who did an excellent job of organising the evening) on the right.
The evening opened with a welcome from Rita Andrews, Club President who explained Soroptimist Definition : Soros = sisters and optimist = the best for women and girls in this country and the world. An international organisation with representation at the UN and a Federation of clubs Vision and Mission
Amanda Brown Club Membership Officer introduced the evening explaining that the evening’s programme was designed to show the way Soroptimists can to act on their own but join the dots and work together
Jean Eaton Club Treasurer spoke about PHAB – physically handicapped and able-bodied young people working together. Soroptimists arranged a fashion show and the kids modelled sweatshirts. We raised funds but in addition a little boy improved his walking as a result of doing the modelling, and a little girl was becoming more confident. Jean’s message was that fundraising isn’t all about fundraising – the spin off from fundraising is sometimes more important than the money raised.
Diana Kingham Executive Officer spoke about how we have helped provide secondary education for 5 girls in Kenya. We work with International Peace Initiatives in Meru, north of Nairobi. She first met the inspirational founder in 2011 in Mombasa and we became involved in helping them sell jewellery made by HIV+ women who are now living and working together. They have a children’s home where they grow their own crops, harvest rainwater and send girls to school. Three members of the club plan to visit in the autumn and will combine a visit, stay at Meru and safari. For more information please see this page on the our website: www.sigbi.org/st-albans/our-international-project/
Jane Slatter Communications Officer spoke about Soroptimists “from St Albans to the United Nations. Soroptimist International was founded in 1921 in Oaklands, California when women around the world were getting the vote. There are now 75000 members around the world and a there has been a Club in St Albans since 1957. Soroptimist International was awarded Consultative status with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1948 and with ECOSOC (Economic & Social Council, United Nations) in 1950. This means Soroptimists are consulted by the UN on things that affect women and girls (i.e. everything!). We have Soroptimists who are UN representatives at the different UN agencies in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and Rome. It is our consultative status with the UN that sets us apart from other women’s organisations.
Everyone was invited to “Bring a Bra” in support (pun intended!) of “Smalls for All”, a UK based charity which collects gently-worn bras and pants in packets and sends them to countries where underwear is an expensive luxury www.smallsforall.org – there were several bags full on the night which was brilliant!
What an inspiring evening!