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Archive for Sunday, September 18, 2005

Soroptimists helping women build strong future

September 18, 2005

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It's been nearly 20 years since Connie Boring joined a Lawrence volunteer community service organization designed for professional women.

"You receive some camaraderie in meeting other professional women and also in working with others to help women in the community," she said.

The organization is Soroptimist International of Lawrence, and it has existed since it was chartered in May 1940.

Bev Hill joined Soroptimists five years ago because she wanted to work for women's progress, not only locally but internationally.

"I liked the things the organization stood for as far as service," Hill said. "I truly believe you have to give back to your community, and that's how I wanted to do it, through a service organization."

Soroptimist means "best for women." And through a variety of activities from the national and international levels to the local levels, Soroptimist clubs have tried to live up to that definition.

Since the group was founded in 1921 as an organization for business and professional women who provide volunteer services, Soroptimists have grown to number about 100,000 women in about 120 countries and territories.

At the local level, Soroptimist clubs determine the activities they will be involved in to live up to the organization's goals. Nationally, some of the programs have included everything from providing grants to qualified women to conducting campaigns to end domestic violence.

In Lawrence, that means organizing fundraisers to provide college scholarships for women who have had some personal problems but are trying to get their lives headed in the right direction through education. The scholarships generally amount to $1,000 and go to a Kansas University or Haskell Indian Nations University student.

Local Soroptimists also adopt needy families to offer special assistance on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And up until this year, they conducted a fundraising bridge tournament to assist the Visiting Nurses Assn. They have provided a variety of assistance to community assistance organizations such as Women's Transitional Care, the Girls and Boys Clubs of Lawrence, and the Ballard Center, to mention a few.

To raise the money, Soroptimists have garage sales and do various jobs at KU basketball games.

"We raise funds together, and that gives us all a chance for some bonding," said Dottie Nordlund, president of the Lawrence Soroptimists.

"There also is a gratification in working to help those who are less fortunate and working through the organization to do it," Nordlund said. "It makes us all feel good."

There currently are 16 active members of the Lawrence Soroptimists, along with other long-time members who are retired and less active. They all work or have worked in professional positions.

Local Soroptimists pay an annual $75 fee, with part of it assisting their local club and a portion going to the national part of the organization. The club meets on the first Monday of the month for dinner.

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