“S” Clubs are service clubs for high school students in communities that are sponsored by local Soroptimist International clubs for the benefit of high school students who wish to serve their school or community as good citizens through volunteering, serving others, and helping in the community.

Supporting youth has always been a big part of service for Soroptimists through scholarships and awards, but “S” clubs have added a much-needed hands-on opportunity to positively impact local youth and enrich members’ lives. The key components for the club center around leadership, friendship and service.

Soroptimist International of Los Banos is a very proud sponsor for the four local high schools. The first S club was chartered in 1999 at Los Banos High School. In 2008, San Luis High School held its charter ceremony. Next came Pacheco High School in 2015 followed by Valley Community School in 2018. “S” Clubs must have a Soroptimist Club Member as an advisor/mentor and a school staff advisor. Projects of the “S” Club that promote the Soroptimist Mission are encouraged.

Lisete Silva, local attorney, is the Soroptimist member advisor/mentor at Los Banos High School. Kelly Todd is the school staff advisor. Their club has done so many worthwhile activities throughout the years. Just to name a few services include volunteering at monthly Helping One Woman dinners, volunteering at Jardin de Amor Fundraisers to raise funds for the Guatemalan school that was started by Creekside Junior High teacher, Jennifer Barcellos, and participating in Parks and Recreation’s Community Cleanup days.

The “S” club members annually promote Breast Cancer Awareness month in October by conducting pink ribbon sales at the Los Banos High football game. All proceeds are donated to Knitted Knockers which supports breast cancer survivors. Their annual holiday blanket drive this year resulted in 225 blankets collected from students and faculty. The blankets are given to all the residents at both local nursing homes. The remaining blankets are donated to Project Roomkey whose purpose is to provide shelter options for people experiencing homelessness.

The club conducts canned food drives which benefit local food programs. Members have volunteered to ring the bell for Salvation Army and have participated in the Peace for Families Domestic Violence Awareness events, collected needed items for Valley Crisis Center, and volunteered at Los Banos Elementary Color Run.

San Luis High School Soroptimist advisors/mentors are Paulina Vaca, the school’s media specialist along with Sandy Lemas, retired Merced County Worknet Supervisor. The school staff advisor is Paul Montumero.

Throughout the years, a primary goal is to assist students in completing their required 30 hours of community service in order to graduate. Students are provided many volunteer opportunities whether it is Bell Ringing for Salvation Army, helping out with Habitat for Humanity houses, and others. The club sponsors team spirit week to build school morale and sponsored classroom holiday competitions.

The S club has done several successful fundraisers to help fund educational field trips, provide prizes for school events, and to sponsor the annual student of the year at graduation. Annually, the students decorate donated Christmas trees and select families to receive them.

Over the years, clothing and food drives are conducted to help others in need. During the weekly S club meetings, the students are taught goal setting, team building, and other life skills to help prepare them for graduation.

Pacheco High Schoool: Soroptimist Advisor/Mentor is Deborah Todd, local business owner and school staff advisor is Daman Sirai. Activities so far this year have included selling hot cocoa and cookies at Multicultural Night, selling pink ribbon pins and pink powder at the annual Pink Ribbon Football game to benefit Knitted Knockers.

The club conducted school fundraisers to purchase S club shirts for their 50 members.

The members volunteered for the Red Kettle program supporting the Salvation Army. They collected items and helped pack boxes for Operation Packing Company. As a fun end of the year activity, they decorated gingerbread cookies and enjoyed hot cocoa together. Friendship and fellowship are important parts of service clubs.

In February, the members will be hosting the annual Prom Boutique at Pacheco High in conjunction with Los Banos High. This two-day event includes dresses, suits, formal wear, shoes and accessories to students free of charge. Dry cleaning services to students are provided free of charge by Johnnies’ Cleaners. This valuable service has gotten bigger and better over the years.

The club will end their year by learning how to plant succulents and create Mother’s Day gifts.

Valley Community School is the newest Los Banos S club. Soroptimist advisor/mentor is Sandy Lemas and the school staff is Letty Valdez. The club meets weekly during the leadership class. Leadership development along with life skills are integrated into the meetings.

The club provides positive and team building activities during the year. The club has hosted Nacho Day in honor of Hispanic Heritage month, provided hot chocolate during the winter, and hosted ice cream socials for all of the students. They planned and organized a successful school water day at the end of the school year.

Members volunteer to do bell ringing for the Salvation Army. The club decorated Christmas trees to give to others and have had food and clothing drives. The club is conducting a fundraiser to sponsor the Senior Grad Night trip to Disneyland.

Whether a high school student joins “S” club, Rotary’s Interact, Kiwanis’ Key Club, or any other school club, positive benefits will result for the student, school, and community.

Sandy Lemas

Sandy Lemas is a longtime resident of Los Banos who has volunteered much of her time to community service. She will be writing a regular column on volunteers and volunteer organizations that help their community.