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Soroptimists working hard for women and girls

This Zoom screenshot shows Soroptimist International of Davis 2020-2021 officers wearing starry-eyed glasses for their installation. From top left are Heather Carpenter, Lynn Fowler, Wendy Weitzel, Maggie Memmott, Evie Wright, Kacie Woodward, Emily Ziser, Elaine Barratt, Katherine Hess, Karen Westphalen, Lori Hansen and Carol MacDonald.

(From press release) Soroptimist International of Davis isn’t letting the pandemic impede its work to improve the lives of women and girls.

The service club wrapped up its 2020-2021 year with its installation of officers on June 23. Also this spring, members stewarded a City Council resolution on women’s rights, gave grants to single moms, and awarded local scholarships. Below are a few highlights:

Resolution for women’s rights

For International Women’s Day March 8, SI Davis worked with the city of Davis on a resolution supporting women’s rights.

The resolution, adopted unanimously on May 19 by the Davis City Council, supports the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and requests that the United Nations treaty be ratified by the U.S. Senate. The resolution was originally on the agenda for March 10, to coincide with Women’s Day, but was postponed because of COVID-19. The Davis Phoenix Coalition and the UC Davis Women’s Center endorsed the resolution.

CEDAW, an international “bill of rights” for women, was adopted by the United Nations in 1979. Though the U.S. helped draft the initial treaty, it remains the only industrialized nation that hasn’t ratified it. It has never made it to the Senate floor.

The adoption and ratification of the CEDAW elsewhere has resulted in millions of girls earning access to basic education, and spurred measures against sex slavery, domestic violence, and trafficking of women and girls. It has improved health care services ­– including lifesaving care during pregnancy and childbirth – and allowed millions of women to secure loans and obtain the right to own or inherit property.

The resolution states that “women continue to be paid less than men in virtually all occupations in California. California females are more likely than males to live below the federal poverty level. More women than men live in poverty, (and) there is greater inequality in poverty rates among women across ethnic and racial groups.” It also says the city will “not discriminate against women in areas including employment practices, allocation of funding, and delivery of direct and indirect services.”

Live Your Dream Awards

SI Davis’ two signature programs are Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women, and Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls at King High School. It also funds high school scholarships, grants to nonprofits that align with the Soroptimist mission, and anti-trafficking efforts.

This year, the club awarded four Live Your Dream grants, helping four single mothers pay for expenses while they further their education. These women survived hardships like domestic violence, poverty, homelessness and foster care but are working to better their lives for themselves and their children. Due to the nature of the award, their names remain private. Three of the women were UC Davis students and one was enrolled at Woodland Community College. The club’s top recipient went on to win an additional monetary award at the regional Soroptimist level.

Soroptimist scholarships

Soroptimists awarded four high school scholarships – three to King High School graduates and one to a Davis High graduate. SI Davis is the largest donor of scholarship money to the local continuation high school. Club members maintain connections with scholarship winners, offering mentorship as another way to invest in their dreams. Recipients were Cristina Juliana Enriquez, Ingrid Daniela Gonzalez and Claudia Jaqueline Herrera from King High, and Catherine Ressa Scheuring from Davis High.

New board of directors

June 23 was the club’s virtual installation of officers. Board members for the 2020-2021 year, starting July 1 are: Evie Wright, president; Katherine Hess, president-elect; Carol MacDonald, coordinator of calendar; Heather Carpenter, treasurer; Lori Hansen, assistant treasurer; Kacie Woodward, secretary; Karen Westphalen, director of fundraising; Maggie Memmott, director of membership; Lynn Fowler, director of programs; Wendy Weitzel, director of public awareness; Emily Ziser, immediate past president; and Elaine Barratt, parliamentarian.

The club thanked the outgoing board: Emily Ziser, president; Evie Wright, president-elect; Katherine Hess, coordinator of calendar; Heather Carpenter, treasurer; Genie Pak and Lori Hansen, assistant treasurer; Cindy Norris, secretary; Jen Kukis, director of fundraising; Dee Clark, director of membership; Carol MacDonald, director of programs; Diana Harvey, director of public awareness; Wendy Weitzel, immediate past president; and Crystal Ross O’Hara, parliamentarian.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. It was founded in Oakland in 1921. Davis was chartered in 1954. Local members join some 75,000 Soroptimists in 122 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls. Its core values are gender equality, empowerment, education, diversity and fellowship.

For 25 years, SI Davis’ primary fundraiser has been selling beer and wine at the Davis Farmers Market. All of those prospective proceeds were lost temporarily when Picnic in the Park was canceled for 2020. Donations are being accepted to support its programs and projects. Visit


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