71st Installation of Officers

71st Installation of Officers

June 21, 2024–SI Vista NCI installed our club’s new board on Friday, June 21st at a luncheon at The Mining Company in San Marcos. Outgoing President Thoralinda Soyland welcomed all guests, and Sherry Luz led the Soroptimist Pledge and Inspiration. Guests in attendance from our Region included Governor Bonnie Mendenhall, outgoing Region Governor Pat Whitacre, District III Director Terry Welter, and Region Secretary Lynn Flanagan. President Thora gave a review of our past year’s accomplishments, and member Katie Melendez presented her with a Proclamation by the City of Vista making June 21 “Thoralinda Soyland Day.” Incoming President Susan Roncone then gave her speech and her theme for the coming year is “We Don’t Hesitate, We Simply Advocate!” Our board members for 2024-2025 are:

President: Susan Roncone

Vice President: Runa Gunnars

Director: Karen Thompson

Delegates: Allison Temples and Jackie Huyck (alternate)

Soroptimists Help 5 Women Live Their Dreams

Soroptimists Help 5 Women Live Their Dreams

VISTA, California, April 2, 2024—Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland presented $14,000 in Live Your Dream Education and Training Awards to five local women to invest in their education and help create a better life for themselves and their families. Criselda Martinez-Jimenez of Vista received the top award of $5,000. Speaking at the club’s annual “Live Your Dream” Awards Luncheon on March 16, Criselda spoke eloquently of her struggles growing up of becoming a widow with two young children to raise. Currenting attending Cal State San Marcos, she eventually hopes to become a Physician Assistant.

Four other women received awards of between $2,000 and $3,000 each. Some recipients did not want their full names and/or photos published for privacy reasons. All of them have overcome significant obstacles like poverty, homelessness, domestic and/or substance abuse, and dysfunctional upbringings. Awardee Briana Hernandez is juggling attending courses at MiraCosta College with raising 5 children, the youngest of whom has significant health issues. Her dream is to get her nursing degree and become a licensed midwife. Another awardee, Ginger D., read a poignant poem she wrote about her challenges. Recipient Leontia called her award “a beacon of hope to help me achieve the dream that once seemed unattainable.” Single mom of two daughters, Leontia’s dream is to become a Registered Nurse. “This award isn’t just about fulfilling my dreams,” she said. “It’s about showing my daughters the power of perseverance and the value of education.”

In addition to providing the primary financial support for their families, all award applicants must be enrolled in, or have been accepted to, a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program and must demonstrate financial need. Recipients may use the cash award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or enhance their skills, such as books, child or dependent care, tuition and transportation. Non-Soroptimist volunteers from the community are chosen to review the applications and recommend the awardees. Those not chosen this year were given gift cards and urged to apply again next year.

Since 1972 Soroptimist clubs around the world have awarded approximately $41 million to more than 41,000 women, many of whom have overcome enormous obstacles including poverty, domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and addiction. Since 2012, the Vista club has invested over $120,000 in the dreams of 40 women through the program.

A registered charity, the club raises funds for these awards through fundraising activities throughout the year. New members are always welcome. The next fundraiser is in May. For more information visit: soroptimistvista.org.

Awardee Ginger D. with her award. Ginger read a poem about her experiences that had the audience in tears.  She gave us permission to print the poem; it is below:

Ginger’s Poem

10 years of turmoil
She held onto hope
Only to constantly feel like a dope
Why would you stay with someone who hates
Who never sees her and only wants his way
There was good but much more bad
Lack of understanding
So much sad
She tried and she tried
She fought a good fight
To stay in and make it work
But he really was a jerk
A jekel and hyde
He didn’t want her by his side
But under his thrown he created in his mind
So fragile and broken
So strong but so weak
He couldn’t turn the other cheek
Or walk away
No he had to sway
Everyone around him to get his way
Whether Good or bad he didn’t care

She was caught in his snare
It’s so sad he didn’t know
All he had to do was let go and grow
Believing it was right
She was doing what she was supposed to do
She kept pushing through
Until the light started poking in
To shine truth upon them
This wasn’t love
Not how it’s meant to be
No more darkness
Now she can see
She betrayed herself when she chose to stay
And try to make it another day
She sought wise counsel in so many ways
She slowly died it wasn’t a craze
It was long and painful
Mind numbing she was overthrown
With too much thinking that never left her alone
Why can’t he agree to disagree respectfully
I let you be you

Let me be me

that was it
She knew in an instant It was through
the line was crossed
It was time to do something new
She wasn’t prepared but she had an idea
Just one step at a time
following a straight line
It wasn’t so straight
It was a roller coaster ride
She held on tight
Something was growing from deep inside
The road rose to meet her and bring by her side
Everything she needed
as she let go of any pride
With so much gratitude
That’s the right attitude
It’s carried you this far

and given you strength
You’re a bright star
If even only in your own head
It motivates and awakens
the dead- Parts of your soul
That He slowly chipped away
But now you look forward to another day
Of building your dreams and making things happen
Through returning to the freedom of who you are
Never looking back
Follow the northern star
It will guide your path
As you continue to grow
Let love show-
you the way
One step at a time
Day by day
You’re being molded like clay
Into who you’re meant to be
By the ultimate love and energy

of the creator of earth
It’s resting in this you’ll know your worth
More precious than rubies
Or diamonds or gold
No longer believing the lies you were told
You are a gift and just as valuable as any other
For we all come from a mother
Equal in the eyes of the creator
Now it’s up to her to stay the course
And keep going forward
It’s the only way
Her priorities are straight
She cannot wait to enjoy her fate
Through perseverance and hard work
She doesn’t need a prince
She’s rescued herself and those she loves most
With strength and guidance from above
And the kindness of strangers
Who have made a way
For all those who had gone astray

From themselves
Lost in someone else
To lend a helping hand
As they learn to stand
On their own two feet again
What a ride
So grateful to feel
The bliss inside
Now out of the ditches
From internal rags to riches
Climbing the mountain
One step at a time
To all who’ve gone before
And those who are yet to come
Don’t give up
It’s not fluff
One day you’ll realize
You’ve always been ENOUGH

“Bunco de Mayo” Fundraiser

“Bunco de Mayo” Fundraiser

May 4, 2024–Our big fundraiser of the year was “Bunco de Mayo” at the Vista Senior Center. A good time was had by all and we’ll add the profits to our Service Fund to be donated next year. Thanks to all who came and all who helped make it a success!

Vista Fire Trained to Spot Trafficking Victims

Vista Fire Trained to Spot Trafficking Victims

Soroptimist member Allison Temples, standing in for Kaye Van Nevel, opened meeting by having all attendees stand and introduce themselves, and invited an community announcements.

  • Marianne Grisez announced that St. Thomas More Church collects CRV recycling the first Saturday of each month from 9 am to noon in the church parking lot at 1450 S. Melrose Drive, Oceanside, with proceeds benefitting the St. Thomas More Community Garden. She also reminded us that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
  • Jackie Huyck from Soroptimists announced Soroptimist Int. of Vista NCI’s “Bunco de Mayo” fundraiser May 4, 2024 at the Gloria McClellan Senior Center. Tickets are $25 per person which includes a light lunch; proceeds benefit women and girls’ education. More information on our website or RSVP HERE
  • Kaysee Morota announced that she will be introducing a guest speaker at our next May 9 Collaborative meeting. The speaker is from Ethiopia originally and will speak about her experience with human trafficking.
  • Vista Council member Katie Melendez spoke about the importance of community engagement and what the City of Vista is doing to fight trafficking as well homelessness. She recently spearheaded a shoe drive, in coordination with the City of Vista and Soroptimist Int. of Vista NCI as part of National “Shoe the World” Day. Donations will be delivered to homeless shelters and services. See https://www.thevistapress.com/childrens-shoe-drive-in-vista/ 

Guest Speaker Edward Kramer, Emergency Manager, City of Vista Fire Administration
Mr. Kramer introduced himself as transplant from Connecticut. He has a degree in Public Health and said he got into emergency management after 9/11, which happened while he lived in Connecticut. After retiring and moving to California, he decided to go back to work after the Covid crisis. His focus is on making Vista “resilient” after emergencies, which he defined as “not just coming back, but coming back better.”

He was involved in the recent Town Hall on Human Trafficking Town Hall held in February at the Vista Civic Center. They had over 200 people attending. He was especially impressed by one woman who spoke of being trafficked at age 14. She had been gaming online and began an online romantic relationship with a 21-year-old man who after six months of schmoozing her with gifts and compliments told her he needed money and had her engage in trafficking. She was blackmailed and coerced and this continued for 6 years until she finally escaped.

Kramer wants us all to do more prevention work and education of the community to recognize the signs of trafficking. He said oftentimes victims are more trusting of fire personnel than they are of police. Fire departments are now training their personnel to look out for signs of trafficking when they are out on calls. They now have mechanisms in place for first responders to submit reports of suspicious activity. For example, if they go to a home to put out a fire and see mattresses on the floor, that could be a sign of trafficking activity. Homeless encampments often have trafficking activity, tattoos on a patient in an ambulance might indicate they are a trafficking victim. “You don’t need handcuffs and locked rooms to keep victims from escaping,” he said. “It’s more a psychological kind of torture and it happens everywhere.”

He mentioned Vista’s Community Safety Commission, formed to conduct dialogue between and with the public, the City’s Fire Department and all law enforcement services. Information about the Commission can be found on the City of Vista’s website. (Interested citizens can receive e-notices on a variety of issues from the City of Vista’s website by visiting cityofvista.com and clicking on “Get E-Notices.”) “The fire station should be a safe space,” he said. “The City Manager and myself have a plan for a walking tour of the neighborhoods.” He said that people need to know that the fire department has resources and connections to help them. “We need to build trust,” he said.

Legislative News

Laurie Davies’ office announced some trafficking-related legislation to watch:
AB 1966, AB 2307 and AB 2308. AB 1066 would require a notice about trafficking with number to call for help to appear somewhere on each e-ticket sold online.
AB 2307 deals with victim reimbursement and self-defense training.
AB 2308 would extend protective restraining orders from 10 years maximum to permanent for domestic violence convictions.

Other speakers

Leslie Carillo from the Pathway Health Clinic told about a neighbor confessing to her that she had been trafficked by her husband for 20 years. “So it happens everywhere,” she said. “And sometimes it’s a family member doing the trafficking; we just have to be aware and ask questions.” The representatives from Vista Sheriff told us if we report anything, we need to get as much info as we can like license plates etc. before reporting, because they cannot follow up on just vague suspicions. A great way to report is going to https://sdlecc.org/ and submitting an SAR (Suspicious Activity Report). There are specific forms for reporting on that website. You can also try CrimeStoppers.org

Next meeting of the Collaborative will be on Thursday, May 9, at the United Methodist Church of Vista, Address: 490 S Melrose Dr, Vista, CA 92081. All are welcome and complimentary coffee and pastries will be available. Kaye Van Nevel will notify members.

The North County San Diego Anti-Human Trafficking Collaborative is a diverse group of citizens and community organizations committed to raising awareness about human trafficking, sharing information, improving victim services, educating the public, and advocating for related policy and legislation.

Guest speaker Edward Kramer with Vista Sheriffs Jessica and Colleen.

Ed Kramer with Vista Deputy Mayor Katie Melendez. 

L-R: Graydon McDermott and Madeline Eikamp from Assemblywoman Laurie Davies Office, Denisse Barragan, business owner, and Leslie Salazar Carrillo, CEO of Pathway Health Clinic.

"The fire station should be a safe space." - Edward Kramer

February 16 Program Meeting

February 16 Program Meeting

Our November Program Meeting topic will be Medicare. Guest speaker is Karen Leyva.

WHEN: Friday, November 16

TIME: 12 Noon – 1 pm

WHERE: Vista Village Pub, 224 Main St., Vista

COST: $20 per person for member includes lunch. RSVP Required

NON-MEMBERS: Contact us if you would like to attend as our guest!
Call 760-683-9427 or email soroptimistinternationalvista@gmail.com

Human Trafficking Awareness Walk 2024

Human Trafficking Awareness Walk 2024

Vista, CA – Our Soroptimist 18th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Event and Walk took place under sunny skies on Saturday, January 27th at the United Methodist Church of Vista. We had a great turnout! Community members, leaders, advocates, and elected officials all came to help us raise awareness about human trafficking. In addition to our Soroptimist club’s info and registration tables, there were representatives from Alabaster Jar Project, San Diego HHSA (Health and Human Services), North County Lifeline, San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP) Coalition for Justice, and TrueCare Community Health Services.

Event Chair Kaye Van Nevel welcomed all attending and invited the local civic leaders who were present to speak.

Our featured guest speaker, San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, addressed the dangers our youth face through social media exploitation. He announced his commitment to promoting education about human trafficking in schools, and emphasized the importance of teaching students to recognize grooming tactics and potential dangers.

California State Assemblywoman Laurie Davies discussed recent legislative efforts, like Bill SB14, aimed at classifying trafficking a minor as a serious felony. Davies also presented a plaque from the Assembly honoring our own Kaye Van Nevel, recognizing her tireless advocacy for the safety of women and children and her relentless pursuit of a safer community.

Vista Council Member and Deputy Mayor Katie Melendez (a new member of our SI Vista club) spoke about labor trafficking. She pledged to advocate for corporate accountability and supply chain transparency, and she stressed the importance of being aware of where the goods we purchase come from.

Others who spoke included Vista Mayor John Franklin, Vista Council Member Corinna Contreras and Vista Fire Chief Gerard Washington. Vista Council Member Dan O’Donnell arrived just in time for the walk, which was down Melrose Avenue from the Church to Sunset Drive and back. Vista Strawberry Festival Queen Serenity Serda and members of the Miss Bonsall Court led the way, holding our club’s big “Stop Human Trafficking” banner. The walkers held their HONK to STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING signs or held signs of their own making, and were rewarded by lots of honks from passing motorists.

Thanks to all who attended and helped out this year! Thanks Terri Haskins and SI Oceanside-Carlsbad for coming and supplying the water! Thanks to United Methodist Church for the beautiful venue!

30 Miles in 30 Days Fundraiser

30 Miles in 30 Days Fundraiser

*30 Miles in 30 Days Fitness Challenge Fundraiser:

WHEN: The challenge begins January 1, 2024 and ends on January 30, 2024

WHERE: Anywhere you can walk/run/bike safely!

WHAT: You sign up online, pledge $1 per mile walked (or whatever you can afford) and walk/run/bike a total of 30 miles in January. Online options include donating without walking, signing up as an individual, joining an existing team, or forming your own team.

WHY: This is a fundraiser and all funds raised through pledges and donations will go to our Service Fund to support our mission of helping women and girls get the education and training they need to succeed.

HOW TO SIGN UP: Visit https://bit.ly/3Ppocfd or text the code “3030WALK” to 44-321.

Whether you choose to walk or run inside, outside, on a treadmill, on a bike…we only challenge you to cover 30 miles in 30 days in January. This challenge is excellent motivation for you to get in shape while raising money for a good cause!

November 17 Program Meeting

November 17 Program Meeting

L-R: Kathleen Ables, Soroptimist Vice President Susan Roncone, and Chuck Ables.

At our November Program meeting at Wildwood Crossing in Vista we were honored to host guest speaker Kathleen Ables, a retired Marine Corps captain, who spoke to us about the challenges faced by herself and other women in the Marine Corps over her 20-year military career, which spanned 1967-1987.

We also welcomed Kathleen’s husband Chuck Ables, a Marine veteran with 28 years of service under his belt. Kathleen credits Chuck with contributing to her success as a female officer in the Marines. (Among his words of advice to her were: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”)

Ables was one of the first females to serve as a commanding officer in a predominantly male unit. During her 20 years of service, she was a trailblazer, using her influence to raise issues concerning women Marines. One example: she urged a change to a policy that excluded females from certain assignments and deployments, which denied them the operational experiences they needed to be competitive with their male peers. After Kathleen briefed a new incoming commander on the problem, that commander ended the policy then and there!

Kathleen Ables retired from the military in 1987 in order to raise the couple’s two daughters. Kathleen and Chuck now reside in Carlsbad, where they have both been active in local veteran’s associations.

Meet & Greet at Cocina Del Charro Oct. 26

Meet & Greet at Cocina Del Charro Oct. 26

Curious about Soroptimist? Join us for cocktails* or non-alcoholic beverages & heavy appetizers to get to know members of our Club, “Soroptimist International of Vista & North County Inland”! Come and learn how our “Dream Programs” help women and girls through education impacting their lives!  RSVP is required, email us at soroptimistinternationalvista@gmail.com or scan QR code.

$20* for members
FREE* for guests
*does not include alcoholic beverages

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