Women at their Best
Soroptimists Make a Difference Through Philanthropy and Friendship
With a new name and expanded focus, Soroptimist International of North San Diego (SINSD) continues to prove the motto “Best for Women.” Since 1977, the club has created a community that allows women to be their best while helping other women achieve their dreams, both locally and around the world. 92127 Magazine chats with President Alice Dodd and President-elect Nancy Eastman about the club’s efforts to support women’s education, curb human trafficking, and provide transitional housing for victims of domestic violence.
Q&A with President Alice Dodd and President-Elect Nancy Eastman
Where does the word Soroptimist come from, and what does it mean?
Alice: Soroptimist is a “coined” Greek word meaning “best for women.” We are a service organization with a focus on helping women and children.
When and why was Soroptimists International founded?
Alice: Soroptimist International was founded by Violet Richardson in 1921 in Oakland, CA. In those days, philanthropic societies were almost exclusively male. Ms. Richardson knew many dedicated, motivated women who responded effectively when there was a need.
Alice: Founded in 1977 by a number of professional women in the Rancho Bernardo area.
Can you tell us about the chapter’s recent name change?
Alice: We are motivated to expand our membership and were concerned that our former name, Soroptimist International of Rancho Bernardo, gave the impression that we were only interested in serving in the RB community. Soroptomist International of North San Diego encompasses Rancho Peñasquitos, Carmel Mountain, 4S Ranch, Del Sur, etc., and we hope to recruit from those and other surrounding areas.
What is SINSD’s mission, and how do you go about fulfilling it?
Alice: Our main mission, as stated earlier, is to improve the lives of women and girls. All our projects must be relevant to that goal, whether it is locally or internationally. We look for projects where we feel there is the greatest need.
Name: Alice Dodd
Community: Oaks North (Rancho Bernardo)
Family: Widow of Dr. Dennis Gooler; my son, Keith Thomas, lives in Chicago with
Education: B.A. degree from DePaul University (Chicago, IL)
Hobbies & Interests: Singing, aerobic danceWhat is the history behind the North San Diego chapter?
What communities do you serve, and what’s the most rewarding part of working with those communities?
Alice: Over the years, we have donated funds to the RB Library as well as the RB Historical Society. We have also given scholarships to the Miss RB Program for the young woman who writes the most inspiring essay. We supply lifeline monitors to elderly women in the Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Peñasquitos areas. For the past four years, we have become involved with the anti-human trafficking awareness program in San Diego. With that, we have involvement in other areas of San Diego County from Oceanside to the border. Obviously, over the years we have seen the changes and the growth of Rancho Bernardo and are proud to be part of the community.
How did you personally become involved with SINSD?
Nancy: A longtime friend belongs to SI San Diego, and she thought I would enjoy the community of women and the causes. She was right, however, I joined SINSD, where I felt I could make an impact closer to home.
Alice: About three years ago, I attended the annual High Tea event co-sponsored by SI of Rancho Bernardo (now SINSD) and SI of Poway. At this fun-raiser, I heard testimonials from two of the Transitional Housing mothers who have been able to get themselves and their children redirected after fleeing nightmare abusive relationships. Both women were so appreciative of the apartments, furnishings, and mentoring they received through our two clubs. They were grateful for the difference it made in the lives of their children to live in a safe, pleasant place. I knew I wanted to be part of that effort.
What is your current role within the organization, and what duties does it entail?
Alice: I am currently the president. I officiate at meetings and try to ensure that all the committee chairmen are on track to accomplish their goals. I also take part in district-wide conference calls and meetings with presidents from other regional chapters.
Nancy: I am the president-elect of SINSD and am watching Alice and the current board to learn the scope of responsibilities for next year.
This year, I serve as the co-chair of the Soroptimist 2017 High Tea with Cindy Spilman of SI Poway. This event is the primary fundraiser for both clubs. It supports our jointly-managed Transitional Housing Program for domestic violence survivors and many of the other programs we run independently that empower women to be the best they can be.
What is the most rewarding thing about your role?
Alice: I love being associated with the fun, capable, caring women in SINSD. When we can make a difference in the lives of women who are going through a tough time, it’s very rewarding.
Nancy: It is most rewarding to see us truly making a difference in the lives of women in our community.
The most challenging?
Alice: I worry that my busy schedule may mean that at times something gets neglected or is mishandled.
Nancy: The most challenging thing for me is to figure out how to maximize the positive impact of the time, energy, and resources that our members graciously donate.
What are the primary goals of SINSD, both short-term and long-term?
Alice: To continue our fundraising efforts enabling us to help women and children in need. To grow our membership to be able to bring in new faces and ideas. We are always looking for like-minded women!
“Soroptimist is a’coined’Greek word meaning ‘best for women.’ We are a service organization with a focus on helping women and children.”
Can you tell us about the Transitional Housing program?
Alice: This program began in 1997. Our Transitional Housing Program moves families from dependency and abuse to a safe, self-sustaining lifestyle by providing housing, financial help, and mentoring. It is an 18-month program to help women and their children fleeing abusive relationships. Working in conjunction with Crisis House and Community Housing Works, we are able to place these women in safe-environment apartments that are fully furnished by both SINSD and SIP. We subsidize their rent, which costs approximately $7,500 to $8,000 a year. We currently have four apartments and hope to add another following this year’s fundraiser. After graduation, these women are able to take all furnishings with them so they won’t have the expense of furnishing a new apartment. To date, the program has helped 53 moms and 115 children.
Is SINSD involved in any other philanthropic efforts?
Alice: The “Live Your Dream” Award each year is awarded to two women who must be head of household as well as continuing their education. We also follow and support past recipients. We have given to the REBOOT Workshop that helps prepare active duty women to make the social and career transitions after they have served our country. We also support women in the “Leap to Confidence” program that helps women rebuild their lives by gaining self-confidence through workshops. Last year was our first year to award the “Spirit Scholarship” to a college-bound senior from San Pasqual Academy. We collect clothing and toiletries for Rachel’s House, a homeless women’s shelter downtown.
Can you tell us a bit about your High Tea event?
Alice: This year we will be holding our 7th Annual High Tea fundraiser at Fairmont Grand Del Mar along with our sister club SI Poway on April 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. This has been a successful event allowing us to fund our Transitional Housing Program for survivors of domestic abuse as well as some of our other projects improving the lives of women and girls. We will have live and silent auction items as well as some “Flash Sale” items where a limited number of tickets will be sold for some wonderful items (think diamond for one!). If someone is interested in attending they can contact Nan at firstname.lastname@example.org or our club email at email@example.com.
Nancy: Our enticing live and silent auctions will include local adventures, dining experiences, and unique gifts. Carlo Cecchetto of CBS News 8 is returning to be our emcee. Many of our 500 anticipated guests will wear their fancy hats and enjoy champagne and a very special program with Grammy Award-winning entertainment. It will be an exquisite event that provides the community with an opportunity to support our Transitional Housing Program and other programs for women and girls.
Name: Nancy Eastman
Community: Rancho Peñasquitos
Education: UCSD (M.S. Computer Science); SUNY Albany (B.S. Mathematics)
Hobbies & Interests: Travel, hiking, home projects, golf, photography, volunteering
How can somebody go about joining SINSD? What is the criteria for membership?
Alice: If someone is interested in learning more about the club they can contact either Liz Bartoli at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pam Warnock at email@example.com. A passion for helping others is the main criteria.
Is there anything you’d like to share that most people don’t know about the Soroptimists?
Nancy: SINSD a great group of ladies who welcome others and who share a common interest in helping women be their best.
Alice: I think we are one of the best-kept secrets as far as a nonprofit service organization. Even though we were founded in 1921 in Oakland, CA, the organization is worldwide. Soroptimist International has 76,000 members in over 120 countries and has a consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which oversees U.N. activities and policies promoting human rights.
Is there anything else you would like to add for our 92127 Magazine readers?
Alice: Please check out our website at www.soroptimistnsd.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and to attend one of our program meetings to learn more about us!
Nancy: Thank you for providing us with this publicity opportunity – it is greatly appreciated!
President: Alice Dodd
President-elect: Nan Eastman
VP of Membership: Liz Bartoli and Pam Warnock
Secretary: Ginny Brown
Treasurer: Pat Hamilton
Corresponding Secretary: MJ Thompson
Delegates: Barbara Bertran and Nancy Browkaw
Name: Soroptimist International of North San Diego
Mailing Adress: 12463 Rancho Bernardo Rd., Box 257, San Diego, CA 92128
Meetings: Carvers Restaurant, 2nd and 3rd Wednesdays at noon