Soroptimists help area women, children

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Leslie Smith, president of Soroptimist International of Barry County, helps with the St. Patrick's Day Potato Bake Thursday. The club raised $850 for the community. Jason Johnston

St. Patrick's Day potato bake raises $850

Soroptimist International of Barry County, which is an organization for business and professional women, has helped area women and children for more than 20 years.

"Soroptimist means friendship, camaraderie and the joy of giving back and being part of the community," said President Leslie Smith.

Jill LeCompte, secretary for Soroptimist International of Barry County, socializes with the community at the St. Patrick's Day Potato Bake Thursday. The club has assisted area women and children since its charter date on Aug. 27, 1994. Jason Johnston

The local club, which has 24 members, was chartered on Aug. 27, 1994. Each year, it provides Dreams in Action grants to organizations that assist women and children in the community.

This year's proposed budget for Dreams in Action is $3,500, said Cheryl Williams, treasurer. Last year, Soroptimist donated $2,000. It has donated at least $25,000 to $30,000 since the charter date.

The club receives eight to 10 applications every year, Smith said.

"We try to fund them as much as we can with what grant money we have available," she said.

Soroptimist raises that money from its yearly nut sales. A committee then chooses the organizations from the list of applicants.

Past recipients included the Arc of the Ozarks, Barry County Youth Camp, Bright Futures, the Cassville Community Food Pantry at the Cassville United Methodist Church, the Cassville YMCA, Kornerstone Inc., Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch, New Mom's Closet and Sigma Epsilon.

Soroptimist donates to the Sandra Forrester Scholarship to graduating seniors continuing their education in the arts. Forrester was a charter member of the local Soroptimist. Her family donated several of her paintings to the club after she died. Those paintings were auctioned off to raise the initial funds for the scholarship.

Debbie Gerleve, second vice president for Soroptimist International of Barry County, cuts out pieces of chocolate brownies at the St. Patrick's Day Potato Bake Thursday. The club has 24 members. Jason Johnston

Soroptimist also hands out an education grant called the Live Your Dream Award, formally known as the Woman's Opportunity Award, to an area woman, and the club recognizes community service through its Ruby Award.

On Thursday, the club raised $850 at its annual St. Patrick's Day Potato Bake. All the proceeds support the community. The Ramey Supermarket donated 150 potatoes, and 140 potatoes were used. Luncheon attendees had a baked potato, chili, broccoli and cheese soup and a dessert.

Throughout the year, Soroptimist helps to stock the food pantry with non-perishibles and personal items, such as soap, body wash and shampoo, said Noelle Harmon, club member.

"I believe that you should give wherever you can," Harmon said. "Sometimes you can't always give money, but you can give your time, and so that allows us to do a lot of fundraising for people, for projects in the community. So to me, it means a lot to give what I can to the community through this group."

At the Cassville United Methodist Church, the club meets on the second Thursday of each month for business meetings, and the fourth Thursday of each month for program meetings. Dues for new members are $115 for the first year. Dues are $105 per year afterward. Meals cost $15 per month. The Installation Banquet costs $15 per year.

This month is Women's History Month. According to the organization's website, Soroptimist has helped women and girls since the first club was formed in 1921 by a group of 80 women in Oakland, Calif.

"Approximately 80,000 Soroptimists in 130 countries and territories support community-based and global projects benefiting women and girls," according to the website.

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