Soroptimist means “best for women” and that’s what we strive to be—an organization of women at their best helping other women to be their best. As a volunteer organization of business and professional women we feel uniquely qualified to help women and girls live their dreams.
Throughout history and still to this day, women throughout the world face obstacles solely because of their gender. They disproportionately suffer from poverty and discrimination. It’s for this reason that Soroptimist, an organization of and by women, chooses to focus on the special challenges facing women and girls.
In order to accomplish this goal, the organization administers several international programs. The organization’s major project is the Live Your Dream Awards, which assist women by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and job prospects.
Soroptimist, founded in 1921, is an international volunteer service organization for women. Soroptimist International of Surrey/Delta, charted in 1995, has contributed significant financial support to our Awards Programs and Community Donations Program, as well as many club volunteer hours on behalf of local Surrey/Delta organizations, committees, and projects that support our mission. This year, our club is proud to support the following community organizations, programs and club-driven projects:
Funding for Community Programs we support is provided through a BC Gaming Grant – “We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia”
Funding for Programs we support is provided through a BC Gaming Grant – We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia
They supply expectant mothers and new mothers with formula, milk, eggs, baby food and small baby items including educational toys and books each week for 1 full year. Some Tiny Bundle families require their hampers be delivered to their home. The delivery service provides expectant mothers with high risk pregnancies and post-partum moms their regular hampers as well as the baby items while they have mobility issues. In addition, the funding supports the operation and fuel costs for the vans.
Young Families is a program of Youth Unlimited that supports young families in Surrey. For the past 20 years their program has provided hope for many young mothers and their children who are caught in the cycle of poverty. They provide practical support such as diapers and other baby supplies as well as counselling, life skills, and facilitate community connections. Their staff also meets families where they are at in the community or outside their homes (during this period of covid-19). Bus fare or gas gift card is also provided to families for going to and from program.
Surrey Urban Mission Society’s mandate is to transform lives within a community that cares, welcomes, and supports those in need while assisting them to participate in society. Surrey Urban Mission (SUMS) has been in operation since 2006 in the Surrey area.
They are in contact with hundreds of women in the Whalley area who are struggling with poverty, homelessness, addiction, and mental health. SUMS provides nightly shelter for over 100 guests across three locations. They also provide housing support and subsidies, meals to all shelter guests plus 140 meals daily to those outside, a nursing clinic, hair and footcare clinics, physical and mental health referrals, and detox and rehabilitation referrals and transportation.
Supplied and distributed by SI Surrey/Delta members to refugee moms and single moms who are returning to school and/or are in need of assistance with their new babies.
Handmade pillows given to women at the Cancer Centre. Pillows made by the sewing group at Peace Portal Alliance Church.
Provide birthday gifts, baby layettes, and personal care items to women in transition.
Provide purses full of personal care products to homeless and/or women-at-risk in our community.
The Mabel League is a softball league for lesbians, bisexual women, queer people, trans* people, and women allies in Vancouver, BC. The league has 19 teams and approximately 200 women participating. They are the largest Women’s D Division Fastpitch league in Western Canada. This partnership has generated interest from women who are interested in becoming active with our club, either through partnering in events or becoming members. This partnership may also lead to Mabel league members joining other clubs in the Lower Mainland and/or chartering a new club in Vancouver.
Hygiene products to Soroptimist International of Nairobi to be distributed to girls who have no access to menstrual products. To date 450 pairs of shoes and 450 feminine hygiene kits have been received in Kenya. Check out our story on dosomegood.ca – dosomegood.ca/post/17964
BGC has provided girl specific programs for over ten years at numerous sites. While each program is different, there are similarities in approach and need. Girl-specific programs need to have a community development focus, shifting to meet the changing needs of the audience. While activities may vary, all of their programs provide preteen girls with a safe space where they can connect with positive adult role models and form positive relationships with their peers in a social environment.
Big Sisters recently opened a new office in Surrey to address the growing need in this community. With more families moving into this area, Surrey is now the largest school district in the Province with approximately 74,000 students. In Surrey, there 19 youth ages 7-17 waiting to be matched with a mentor in the Big Sisters Mentoring program. But even more significant is that they had to close their waitlist in Surrey in the Autumn of 2018, and they know there are so many more vulnerable youth in this area that need a mentor now.
The Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank (referred to as “the CCK Food Bank”) benefits all food insecure individuals by providing them with ample fresh and non-perishable food items, toiletries, baby items, and clothing when requested. The Food Bank serves approximately 200 to 300 individuals each week.
In addition to receiving and sorting through perishable and non-perishable food donations every weekday, Food Bank volunteers also spend hours a week portioning and organizing baby item donations such as diapers, formula, and wipes.
In addition to our BC Gaming Grant to CCK, we donated 15 baby layette bundles for new parents-in-need, and personal care items for families-in-need.
BeaYOUtiful Foundation serves those who identify as female between the ages of 8-14. The Nonprofit Organization is inclusive of young girls from any socioeconomic status, but works with a minimum of 50% of schools or facilities that are considered inner-city or have areas with higher risk youth.
BeaYOUtiful Foundation has adapted to new opportunities of learning by implementing six-week online confidence programs for young girls and workshops. In-person self-esteem workshops will also take place as long as COVID-19 safety measures are acceptable. The online program and individual workshops focus on building positive body image through mentorship, and includes but is not limited to the following topics: self-esteem, nutrition, media literacy, equality and racism, and goal-setting.
Slavery’s New Face: Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls – Slavery is a harsh reality for millions of people the world over who find themselves trapped in an exploitative and abusive system, bought and sold like objects, and treated with no dignity or human decency.
How extensive is slavery’s reach? Human rights groups estimate that anywhere between 12.3 million and 27 million people are enslaved in forced or bonded labor, child labor, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude at any given time.
Slavery exists in a variety of permutations, but all forms of slavery share some common characteristics: slaves are forced to work; are owned or controlled by an “employer”; are dehumanized and treated as commodities; and are physically constrained and unable to move.
One type of slavery and exploitation that continues to proliferate at an alarming rate—and that has a particular relevance to women and girls—is sex trafficking/slavery. Western Canada Region has chosen to highlight this issue as a Region project. We have partnered with the Salvation Army to increase public awareness of the issue of Human Trafficking and have provided financial support to Deborah’s Gate, a shelter for victims of Human Trafficking.
For more information on Human Trafficking and Soroptimist initiatives to stop this crime, please follow the link: http://www.soroptimist.org/trafficking/trafficking.html
In 1994, Soroptimist International of the Americas made the prevention of domestic violence an organizational focus. Each year, on November 25 (the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women), members participate in the Soroptimist Workplace Campaign to End Domestic Violence.
The campaign targets domestic abuse as a workplace concern. Domestic violence is a workplace issue because it affects both women and business, as most women work and they do not leave abuse behind when they leave their homes. Abusers often harass their partners at work. In worse case scenarios, abusers come to the workplace and threaten their partners and their co-workers. As business and professional women, Soroptimists are in a position to educate people in the workplace that women have the right to live free from violence.
Each year, Soroptimists distribute thousands of hotline cards, and hold lectures and events to raise awareness about domestic violence as a workplace concern. The campaign earned an Award of Excellence from the American Society of Association Executives and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Allies Against Violence Award.
The Road to Equality – UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, has stated that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls the “unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.” The adoption of the 2030 Agenda pledged to ensure “no one will be left behind” and to “endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.”
The Road to Equality will focus on the role Soroptimist International can play in achieving gender equality as we develop capacity and raise awareness on human rights challenges that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential. Child Marriage, FGM, Domestic Violence, Trafficking, Migration, and the rights of Older Women are some of the issues that our UN representatives and our SI team advocate for globally.
We are very excited to announce that Sharon Fisher, a Soroptimist International of the Langleys member, will assume the role of Soroptimist International President on January 1, 2020, and has chosen “The Road to Equality” as her SI President’s Appeal. The Road to Equality launches October 1, 2019. Watch for announcements and news at www.soroptimistinternational.org
Malaysia has more than 200,000 unemployed graduates and almost one million school dropouts and jobless young people under the age of 30 years.
Crime, trafficking, prostitution and drug related offences have reached alarming levels. SI Petaling Jaya competed with 300 NGOs in Malaysia to win the Berbudi Berganda: Social Impact Innovation Challenge with a Government grant of RM25,000 and Overall Grand Prize money of RM30,000 from Credit Suisse Bank.
The programme, which commenced in February 2015 and is aimed primarily at the 18-25 age group, has inspired and motivated young people to achieve mental, emotional and physical fitness and built confidence and self-esteem, values, work ethics and readiness for employment or to start a small business. Participants attained visible improvements in soft skills and core competencies not addressed by the Malaysian education system at either secondary or tertiary level. The programme matched graduates with potential employers and were placed in jobs that best fit their personality, goals, skills and capabilities.
To date, more than 120 young people have graduated from this programme, with 30% securing jobs within 2 months of graduation, 55% upskilled to take up tertiary education and 15% going into small business/ entrepreneurship.
The Soroptimist Foundation of Canada annually offers several $7,500 grants to female graduate students in Canada to assist them with university studies which will qualify them for careers which will improve the quality of women’s lives. Examples include but are not limited to: providing services, providing legal counselling and assistance, counselling mature women entering or re-entering the labour market, counselling women in crisis, counselling and training women for non-traditional employment, and positions in women’s centres.