VISTA, California, March 25, 2021— Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland (SI Vista NCI) recently gave educational awards totalling $21,500 to seven local women as part of its Live Your Dream Awards program. The Live Your Dream awards assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects. These women are enrolled in or have been accepted to a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program. Awardees may use the money in whatever manner will help them further their goals, whether that be tuition, supplies, rent, childcare or other living expenses. In the past five years, SI Vista NCI has given over $30,000 to awardees. This year’s first-place award winner received a check for $3,500, and the other six awardees received $3,000 apiece. The top winner’s application has been submitted as a candidate for an additional region-level award and a chance to become a candidate for one of three $10,000 Soroptimist federation-level awards.
Every year, Soroptimist organizations distribute more than $2.5 million in grants as part of their Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards. Since its inception in 1972, more than $30 million has helped tens of thousands of women achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families — leading to stronger communities, nations and the world.
“We usually present these awards at our annual awards gala, but due to the pandemic all in-person events have been canceled and we simply mailed the checks and awards certificates to the women” said Eden Weinberger, chair of the Live Your Dream Awards Committee. “We hope to celebrate with them via Zoom soon,” she said.
First-place awardee Kasey Critz’s dream is to earn a master’s degree in special education and work as an advocate for learning disabled students. She has been pursuing a B.A. in education at National University, maintaining a 3.23 GPA and receiving many student achievement awards plus admission to their prestigious Honors for Social Change program. Critz escaped a physically abusive marriage and was left as the sole financial support for four learning disabled sons. She calls the day she enrolled in National University a day of reckoning. “It was time to return to school so I would never again be in a position that left me and my sons powerless,” she wrote in her application. “The Live Your Dream Scholarship would give me a chance to breathe when I am wondering how I am going to squeeze 30 hours of work, homework and parenting into a 24-hour day…Many times I thought that I should take a temporary leave from school and focus on making more money because it was so difficult to succeed at both… I don’t always have a homemade dinner on the table or have all the laundry folded and put away. My assignments aren’t always turned in on time, and sometimes I fall asleep at work because I work the overnight shift as an emergency veterinary nurse. Many times, I just have a good old-fashioned cry to get myself to the next day. Somehow, with the grace of God, I always find a way to make it work, but now I don’t have to figure out how to hide the bruises behind sunglasses, make-up and sweaters,” she wrote.
All six other awardees have similarly poignant stories and struggles. Monica Vargas, single mother of three, is pursuing a B.A. in Psychology from Cal State University San Marcos part-time while holding down a full-time job. “Not only would this scholarship assist me financially by offsetting some of the extra expenses a student endures such as books, fees, supplies etc., but it would also provide me the continued motivation to keep moving forward in accomplishing my educational goals,” she wrote in her application. The other five awardees are enrolled in local colleges, universities or trade schools. One is studying Criminal Justice, three are seeking degrees in medical fields, and one is getting certified in cosmetology. All are single moms living in North County San Diego.
For more information visit soroptimistvista.org or email email@example.com.
ABOUT SOROPTIMISTS OF VISTA AND NORTH COUNTY INLAND:
Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland (SI Vista NCI) was chartered on March 23, 1953. We are a dynamic group of women primarily from Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Bonsall and Fallbrook who seek to make a difference in our community through offering scholarships and grants to local charities and by raising awareness and educating the public about issues affecting women and girls, such as domestic violence and human trafficking. For more information, see our website at soroptimistvista.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For 68 years, we have been committed to protecting the environment, education in the fields of health, economic and social development, leadership development, fellowship and diversity. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
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Soroptimists around the world are counting down the days to October 3, 2021—the 100th anniversary of the founding of Soroptimist! Our anniversary theme, “Bright Past, Brilliant Future” perfectly encapsulates the respect for and memory of those incredible women who in 1921 had the foresight and courage to become Soroptimists and pursue the best for women. Soroptimists of today are acting with the same forward thinking and courage to make our Brilliant Future come alive through our 2021-2031 Big Goal of Investing in the dreams of half a million women and girls through access to education.
Locally, our club, Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland, is kicking off the celebration by asking supporters and companies to each donate $100–that’s one dollar for every year of Soroptimists’ existence. Our goal is to raise $10,000 for our club’s Service Fund, to be donated out in 2022 to support our mission of helping women and girls through our Dream programs. Like other service clubs and non-profits, we have had to pivot to online fundraising to reach our goals. Please help by visiting our Giving Grid and “buying” a square. You can upload your head shot or company logo into the square and be acknowledged for your generosity. If you would rather donate by check contact us at email@example.com and we’ll pick up your check. THANK YOU!
VISTA, California, February 19, 2021—Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland recently presented checks totaling $11,700 to two organizations fighting human trafficking in San Diego County. During a club Zoom meeting on February 19th, club president Assly Sayyar welcomed guest speakers from Alabaster Jar Project and North County Lifeline. Each organization will receive a check for $5,850 representing equal halves of the total funds raised from the club’s monthlong “30 Miles in 30 Days” Walkathon to Fight Human Trafficking held in January.
First to speak was Susan Johnson, Director and Co-Founder of Alabaster Jar Project, which operates Grace House, a safe house in Vista for trafficking victims. “Thank you so much Soroptimists,” she said. “This will help with paying our staff and making sure that the bills are paid and the rent is paid for the women in our housing program.” Grace House currently houses five trafficking survivors. “They are doing well,” she reported. “Two of them are already working in the community–they actually, during Covid-19, got employment on their own. One earned her high school diploma. We’ve got three that are in college continuing education virtually.”
Representing North County Lifeline were Stephanie Gonzalez, program manager of Project LIFE, and Melissa Haupt, director of programs. Project LIFE supports human trafficking victims on their path to recovery and self-reliance. “The Soroptimists have always supported our program,” Gonzalez said. “I just want to say thank you for always thinking of us…Since we started Project LIFE in 2011, we’ve served a total of 387 clients,” Gonzalez noted, “and that number has continued to grow because we’ve expanded. When I first started, I was the only case manager. Now we have five case managers, a therapist…we’ve really grown. It’s great to be able to serve more clients with their emergency needs, so for example, when we head out on an Emergency Response a lot of times trafficking victims don’t have anything, we’re able to purchase clothing for them and any other basic items that they’re in need of, and can place them in safe housing. So all of these funds are definitely going to contribute to all of that.”
Melissa Haupt said “Collaborations like this like with Alabaster Jar and the other great community partners has allowed us to grow.” She said they now have eight independent units for housing, and provide parenting support to survivors who have children or are pregnant to make sure that they are successful and able to safely parent. “It is a result of collaborations like this and we are incredibly grateful, so thank you,” Haupt said.
When asked what else Soroptimist members can do in addition to monetary donations, all three women agreed that donations of gift cards are most welcome, because the funding they receive is usually restricted to food, clothing and housing. “There are a lot of things that our survivors might need that maybe don’t fit into the box of food, clothing or shelter but are imperative in their case plan as they make progress towards their own personal goals,” Haupt said.
Johnson agreed. “We’ve seen an increase in the need for, for instance, gas station gift cards, grocery store gift cards, Uber, Lyft and Instacart. We’ve been using Instacart a lot.”
Interested in donating gift cards? Please consider purchasing gift cards from our Soroptimist Club’s SCRIP fundraising program. Call or email us for more info at 760-683-9427 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another thing they all agreed on: they are all exhausted, staff and clients alike. At the top of Susan Johnson’s wish list was “self-care for staff.” The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough, she said. “Because of the Covid measures, we’ve been really spread thin. For the women it would be nice if somebody has some sort of Big Bear cabin or Julian little space that they’d be willing to allow us to use for a weekend retreat for either staff or for the residents…that would be lovely,” she said.
“The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us,” agreed Haupt. “We had to shift in the way we are providing services, and while we do still have in-person services, we have also had to be selective in protecting our clients and protecting our staff. We had to shift gears. How do we provide basic needs to everybody and make sure that we’re keeping everybody safe? So for the basic needs, that meant that we were picking up and doing a drop-off on doorstep and then giving clients a text or call when we get there so that we can do the exchange, wave to them through the window.”
Other needs mentioned included a possible daylong financial literacy workshop and mentoring one-on-one, both things Soroptimists are planning to do in the future to help. Members were cautioned that mentoring would require 40 hours of training. Information about volunteering can be found at the respective organizations’ websites: alabasterjarproject.org and nclifeline.org.
Kaye Van Nevel, who has chaired the Soroptimist club’s anti-human trafficking efforts for over a decade, gave special credit to the North County San Diego Anti-Human Trafficking Collaborative, a group formed and run by Soroptimists in North County which until last year met every other month at the United Methodist Church of Vista. Both Alabaster Jar Project and North County Lifeline were members of the Collaborative and guest speakers at some of their meetings.
For more information visit soroptimistvista.org or email email@example.com.
PHOTO: Zoom meeting in February. Clockwise, from top: Assly Sayyar, President of Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland, Kaye Van Nevel, Chair of the club’s Anti-Human Trafficking program, Susan Johnson of Alabaster Jar Project, Melissa Haupt and Stephanie Gonzalez of North County Lifeline.
The Vista Chamber is holdings its 2021 Heroes of Vista Virtual Auction, Awards & Gala virtually this year as a livestreamed event on YouTube. Our club, Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland, is one of three finalists in the nonprofit category!
The Heroes of Vista Gala can be viewed live on the event bidding page. Register for Free HERE
This will be a free, live streaming event on Saturday, March 20 at 5:30 p.m. filled with entertainment along with awards for the many amazing leaders in the Vista community. The program and silent virtual auction will be free to access and view from the event page beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 7:00 p.m. You can optionally enjoy a Gala Box with snacks and treats while you watch the ceremony for $75. Register as a bidder and view the event for free, online. No purchase necessary to enjoy this virtual gala!
NOTE: Be sure to pre-register for the event by March 15 with your credit card to donate or bid the night of the event. Everyone pre-registered for the event will be entered into an opportunity to win a certificate for a large charcuterie box for two (to be used on a future date of your choice). The online silent auction opens on March 15.
It’s Our Birthday!
Come join us on Tuesday, March 23 at 6 pm via Zoom to celebrate Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland’s 68th birthday! Our club was chartered on March 23, 1953. That’s 68 years of service to our local community and to issues affecting women and girls locally and around the world. Drinks and Bingo are optional (Donation $10 per Bingo Card). Email us for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Human Trafficking was the focus of a free Zoom webinar presented by Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland on Saturday, January 30, 2021 from 1-2 p.m. Keynote speaker Monica Dean, NBC7 News Anchor, gave us a behind-the-scenes account of the NBC7 documentary series, “STOLEN: A Year-Long Investigation Into Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation.” Her talk included the inspiration behind the seven-episode documentary series, how the project evolved and the major findings to come from this year-long investigation. The series is available to stream online at nbc7.com/Stolen and debuts nationally this month on NBC LX/Peacock. In addition, Jaimee Johnson, CEO/Founder of Sisters of the Streets, spoke, reading a poem and answering questions during the question and answer period following both presentations. Also joining the panel were Soroptimists Assly Sayyar, president of the Vista club, Kaye Van Nevel, Chair of the club’s Human Rights/Status of Women Committee and Jackie Piro Huyck, the club’s Public Awareness Director. The webinar will be edited and posted online for viewing in February.
January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and during the month the Soroptimists hosted a “30 Miles in 30 Days” Walkathon fundraiser, raising over $10,000. All funds raised will be donated to Alabaster Jar Project‘s Grace House, a safe house for survivors of trafficking, and North County Lifeline’s Project LIFE, which provides prevention and intervention services.
The Vista Soroptimist club has been at the forefront of raising awareness about human trafficking since 2006.
Any questions contact:
Eden Weinberger or Aleta Dirdo”
at email in flyer above (click on flyer)
Proceeds benefit Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland’s Dream programs helping women and girls get the education and training they need to succeed.
WHAT: ZOOM Watercolor Painting Class Fundraiser
WHEN: Thursday, February 11, 2021
TIME: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
PRICE: $40 includes all supplies delivered to your home
Carlsbad artist Ronni Rosenberg will lead us step by step to create our own beautiful watercolor painting, suitable for framing or for making into greeting cards. $40 registration fee INCLUDES all art supplies delivered directly to your home. (Local addresses only). Funds raised will go directly to Soroptimist Dream programs to benefit women and girls.
All spots have been filled for this class
VISTA, California, February 1, 2021—Our “30 Miles in 30 Days to Fight Human Trafficking” Virtual Walkathon raised over $10,000. All funds raised will be split equally between two local non-profits active in the fight against human trafficking: Alabaster Jar’s Grace House, a safe house for trafficking victims, and North County Lifeline’s Project LIFE, a human trafficking prevention and intervention program.
In addition the Human Trafficking Awareness Zoom Webinar held on January 30, 2021 at 1 pm, with guest speakers Monica Dean, anchor/reporter for NBC7 News San Diego and Jaimee Johnson, trafficking survivor will be posted on our YouTube channel soon.
Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland’s first-ever “Holiday Shopping Auction” raised a total of $580. All proceeds will go to our club’s Service Fund, to be donated as educational grants to women in need. THANK YOU to all who bid and congratulations to the winning bidders!
SAN DIEGO, C.A., August 25, 2020 – On August 20, 2020, NBC San Diego debuted “STOLEN,” an expansive documentary series about the sex trafficking and exploitation of children in San Diego County.
Told from the perspective of survivors, advocates — even pimps, and sex buyers, “STOLEN” also celebrates the strength of survivors and their families, as they struggle to break the bonds of sex trafficking. The seven-episode documentary is the product of a year-long investigation by NBC San Diego Anchor/Reporter Monica Dean and Executive Investigative Producer Tom Jones.
“STOLEN” details how Dean and Jones uncovered previously sealed jailhouse recordings of a trafficker manipulating two teen girls into selling themselves online. The recordings led to an investigation of how a wealthy San Diego businessman received immunity from San Diego County prosecutors, despite his admission that he had paid teenage girls for sex.
The case highlights gaps in the state justice system. Among the problems: the reality that sex buyers are rarely arrested and charged for their crimes, and when they are, they typically receive only a misdemeanor citation that can be disposed of by paying a small fine.
“The way the law works in California, a person can buy sex with a minor, say they didn’t realize they were under the age of 18, and walk away with little punishment,” Jones said.
In addition, Dean and Jones report for the first time evidence of child sex trafficking occurring at nearly every school district in San Diego County, and how thousands of teenagers are vulnerable to exploiters through their social media profiles. “STOLEN” explains why the illicit child sex market thrives in San Diego County, and across the United States, despite the heroic efforts of survivors, their families, and advocates to break that destructive cycle and reclaim their stolen lives.
“I’m a journalist but I’m also a mother,” said NBC San Diego Anchor Monica Dean. “It was our mission to help people understand these young victims could be your child, sister, neighbor, or friend. The desire for love, validation, and acceptance is often what makes someone vulnerable to exploitation. But there is hope and there are solutions.”
“STOLEN” includes exclusive interviews with young women and men who were sexually exploited in San Diego County. Throughout the ground-breaking documentary, survivors share their personal stories and reveal the risk factors and warning signs every parent should know.
“In the #MeToo era, there’s an opportunity for a real conversation about the dangers of these kinds of exploitative relationships that often draw teen girls and boys into sex trafficking,” Dean said.
“STOLEN” is streaming now at www.nbc7.com/STOLEN
The documentary is accompanied by a multimedia platform of content and a companion podcast series that showcases the findings of the year-long investigation.
“It is a difficult and uncomfortable topic but a must-see for parents, educators, youth groups, and community leaders,” said Dean. “Experts say young people’s lives are at stake. In this digital age, they are more vulnerable than ever.”
Tom Jones, Executive Producer
NBC San Diego
(619) 618-9243 Cell Phone
“It is a difficult and uncomfortable topic but a must-see for parents, educators, youth groups, and community leaders. Experts say young people’s lives are at stake. In this digital age, they are more vulnerable than ever.” –Monica Dean
Club Installs Incoming Board at Outdoor Brunch
On Saturday, June 27 we held our 2020-2021 “Free to Sparkle” patriotically themed Installation of officers in Sherry’s backyard, which was perfect because there was lots of space to social distance. Kudos to Sherry Luz, Jennifer Luz-Olson, Lani Beltrano and Karen Del Bene and everyone else who helped make it possible. The food and decorations were superb. We all liked Dyana Preti’s “Five Affirmations for Soroptimists” so much that we are reprinting them below:
Five Affirmations for Soroptimists by Dyana Preti
- We are AMAZING! We do more, think more, say more, feel more, love more and we act on it.
- We can do ANYTHING! We have strong values about the role and rights of women and girls in this world. We have causes and projects that we champion with courage, compassion and conviction.
- We make the choice to be POSITIVE! Adversity is no match for us. Our hearts are big and we make a positive difference in this troubled world.
Each of us is a UNIQUE individual! Each brings her own personal skills, time and talents to our club and gives of herself in her own unique way. Each of us is valuable, needed and appreciated by her sisters here.
- We are EMPOWERED! Because of everything we are, everything we bring to this club, we are empowered and we empower each other as well. You’ve heard the saying, “As an individual you are but one drop of water.” But as Soroptimists working together we are a global ocean reaching out to women and girls on every continent. Our teamwork makes the dream work!
Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland
President: Assly Sayyar
President Elect: Cherie Wilson
Secretary: Kaye Van Nevel
Treasurer: Pat Origlieri
Assistant Treasurer: Aleta Dirdo
1. Membership: Lani Beltrano & Karen Del Bene
2. Programs: Elizabeth Freed
3. Fundraising: Runa Gunnars
4. Public Awareness: Jackie Huyck
President of the Club President: Assly Sayyar
2 year Delegate: Sherry Luz
2 year Alternate: Jennifer Luz-Olson
1 year Delegate: Nelly Jarrous
1 year Alternate: Runa Gunnars