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Home » Santa Clarita News » Local Soroptimist Group Turns 35

Local Soroptimist Group Turns 35

khts_inthecommunity2Times flies when you’re having fun…

That time-honored cliché clearly applies to the members of Soroptimist International of Santa Clarita Valley as the club celebrates its 35th anniversary. Chartered on December 3, 1974, the club has been an integral part of the growth of Santa Clarita Valley and its members have enthusiastically worked for 35 years to deliver on the club’s mission of helping to improve the lives of women and girls locally and around the world.

At its 35th Anniversary celebration on December 2, 2009, the club was presented with Proclamations by Marsha McLean, Councilwoman for the City of Santa Clarita and Ed Masterson, on behalf of Cameron Smyth, for the 38th District of the California Assembly for its 35 years of commitment and service to the citizens of Santa Clarita Valley.

The Women’s Outreach Program which the club has sponsored for more than 20 years has provided support to numerous SCV agencies including the Family and Child Center , Domestic Violence Center , Single Mother’s Outreach and other non-profits when the agency itself is unable to provide support through its normal channels. As the Chairperson for the Outreach program, Past President Diane Benjamin, a 22-year member of the club says, “It’s heartwarming to know that we’re there as a backup for these agencies and are able to make a difference in the life of a woman who just needs that little extra bit of help.”

“Service organizations are an important part of any community and the value they bring is often immeasurable, but it is also important that the members of those organizations have fun while doing good and that’s what our club is all about,” says President Donna Kreutz . “Being a member of SISCV carries a certain status because of our roots, but our members also enjoy being part of the club. In addition to our regular meetings, we gather at a member’s home for Friendship Night the fourth Wednesday of every month.”

For the past six years, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, SISCV has sponsored an event known as Bras for a Cause. This social event brings together lingerie art, gift baskets, silent auction items, and wine tasting. This year’s event raised more than $23,000 and on November 11 2009, the club presented Terry Bucknall, Director of the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center with a check for $10,000. “It feels so good to donate that money,” says Sandi Naba, President-Elect and Co-Chair of the event, “and to know that the donation goes to the core of our mission.” Co-Chair, Lori Hollister agrees, “It’s knowing that you’re part of an organization that is international in scope, but that we are also able to have such an impact on the well-being of our local women and girls that makes being a Soroptimist so rewarding.”

In 2002, SISCV donated $10,000 to complete the Breast Imaging Center . As a result, one of the examination rooms at the facility is dedicated to Soroptimist. Gail Rocco-Mack, Past President and breast cancer survivor, received the first mammogram ever performed at the Center.

In 2007, SISCV sponsored an entirely new club, Soroptimist International of Greater Santa Clarita Valley. This spin off club is having a major impact in our community. With nearly 60 members, SIGSCV hit the ground running and has sponsored numerous fundraising events and is helping to raise the community’s awareness of Soroptimist. Both clubs are members of the Camino Real Region.

Cheri Fleming, owner of Valencia Acura and Governor of the Camino Real Region says, “As the Governor of 27 clubs in the Region and a member of SISCV, I couldn’t be more proud of our club. The impact it has had on Santa Clarita for the past 35 years is impressive. Since its beginning, the club has raised and donated close to a million dollars to local and international programs focused on improving the lives of women and girls. That’s something to be proud of.”

The club’s longest standing member and corresponding secretary, Karen Ilich, owner of the Travel Center of Santa Clarita fondly remembers 26 years of fundraising events but says, “you haven’t seen anything yet…we’re working on a number of unique events, so stay tuned.” In addition to organizing and overseeing the future fundraising events, newly elected Co-Vice Presidents, Sharyn Buncick and Kathy Rutherford will share the responsibility of raising and distributing the funds to support the club’s mission.

Long time club member, Past President and Camino Real Region Treasurer, Chris Blazey says, “I drive down from Bakersfield as often as I can just to be part of the group.”

Club Treasurer and Assistant U.S. Attorney, Janet Hudson sums it up with, “it’s a privilege, and a lot of fun, to be part of this club.” Fellow board members, Pam Jaffke and Kaye Cruger couldn’t agree more. “We’re a group of women who take our service role very seriously but know how to have a good time in the process.”

Cyndi Diaz, Treasurer-Elect and Wendy Smith, 1 Year Director and Membership Chair see SISCV as a great way to give back to the community while growing their own personal leadership skills.

Soroptimist International is the largest female service organization in the world with more than 3,000 clubs and 90,000 members in 125 countries and territories. The name Soroptimist is a loosely coined term meaning, “best for women”.

Learn more about Soroptimist International of Santa Clarita Valley by visiting If you are interested in joining this organization, please contact Wendy Smith, Membership Chair at 661-296-6084.

The attached photo is of seven past SISCV Presidents, Gail Rocco-Mack (2007-2008), Carolyn Nelson (2004-2005), Cheri Fleming (2002-2003), Carolyn Brimer (2000-2001), Karen Ilich (1993-1994), Diane Benjamin (1991-1992) and Darlene Fink (1983-1984).


Local Soroptimist Group Turns 35

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