Soroptimist International of Los Banos had the honor to host the Sierra Pacific Region’s District III Fall Meeting. The meeting was held on Oct. 28 at Valley Spring Memory Care.

District III consists of 12 clubs in the Central Valley that include Clovis, Delano, Hanford, Kerman, Los Banos, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Taft, Tulare, The Sierras and Visalia. All three districts in the region meet at the annual conference held each spring.

The meeting started off with a welcome from District III Director Joelle Leder-Rule and introductions of the Sierra Pacific Region Officers. President of the Los Banos club, Darlene Neves, began the meeting with a welcome to the attendees.

Darlene highlighted the programs of service that the local club promotes and sponsors throughout the year, including the Live Your Dream Awards, Dream It Be It workshops for high school students and sponsorships for the four high school “S” Clubs at Los Banos, Pacheco, San Luis and Valley Community School.

Scholarships for each school were provided by Sierra Pacific Region. All of these programs help the club in achieving the Soroptimist mission of “Providing women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.”

In addition, the club supports local girls’ service groups by having the Girl Scout Heart of Central CA-Troop 117 present the Colors and Flag Salute while 18 enthusiastic “S” club members from Pacheco High volunteer throughout the event to help it run smoothly.

The SPR Governor, Charlie Rodgers, presented the SIA club roadmap metrics, the guide for clubs to achieve the goals of the SIA Strategic Plan. The metrics facilitate a positive club experience while building global recognition and investing in the dreams of half a million women and girls.

From 2021 through 2031, the metrics show that access to education, training and life skills building has improved for young women.

The four metrics for success are impact, engagement, brand recognition and philanthropy. Impact involves investing in the Dream Programs for women and girls who are facing obstacles such as poverty, teen pregnancy, being a youth in foster care, supporting single parents, etc.

These needs can be met by providing awards and scholarships to those in need of support. Clubs are working on ways to expand the Big Goal Accelerator Projects to assist women and girls in other ways to help them achieve their goals.

Some clubs have assisted in helping women complete their GED, providing computer and other skills training, providing economic activities and training, supporting girls’ continuing education with transportation assistance such as bus passes and working directly with aging-out foster care youth.

The big goal targets for Soroptimist clubs are to increase the annual number of Live Your Dream Awards by 10 percent, increase the number of girls participating in the Dream It, Be It program by 25 percent and increase the number of women and girls reached through the Big Goal Accelerator Projects by 10 percent.

Engagement is the next metric that involves achieving retention rates of 85 percent and above for club members and increasing club engagement. SI-Los Banos hosts recruitment socials throughout the year but interested women (or men) can join at any time.

Philanthropy is the third metric and requires clubs to contribute 10 percent of funds raised locally to Club Giving in support of the federation programs. In addition, clubs donate Founders Pennies for every member in support of the federation programs. The federation uses these funds to award grants to Soroptimist clubs to help start new programs.

The last metric is brand recognition. Soroptimists are a well-kept secret but have such a profound and positive impact on women and girls globally. The goal is to have everyone know that Soroptimists are “Investing in Dreams” for women and girls.

More brand recognition means more awareness of resources that are available to help others achieve their goals and overcome obstacles.

Additional Soroptimist endeavors are sure to follow.

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.