(click on pictures to enlarge)
Alex Caisse Park Gazebo
For the past several years, members have decorated the Alex Caisse
Park Gazebo located on Route 195 in Willimantic for Memorial Day and
the Christmas holidays. In addition to the decorations, we have
planted bushes and while there decorating, try to spruce up the area
around the gazebo. Click
here to see some pictures.
Backpacks for the Domestic Violence Shelter
For the past several years, our club has filling backpacks with
school supplies which are then donated to the children of our local
domestic violence shelter.
Several members have adopted a cabin, Elaine's Place, at Camp Horizons which involves
cleaning and sprucing up. We plant annuals, rake, mulch
and keep the camp looking beautiful.
Domestic Violence Program
Our club has been actively involved with helping the Domestic Violence
Shelter for over 20 years. Every year we make toiletry baskets for the
shelter containing wash cloths, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush
and other personal items women need when they leave an abusive
situation. For the past several years, we have also made sure they had
a food basket for the Thanksgiving holiday. In April, 2000 we awarded
them the Advancing Women Into The New Millennium $2,000 grant. With
this grant, they were able to produce and distribute an awareness
video. In 2001 we again awarded them a $500 grant to continue with
their awareness project. We have also paid for the printing of their
awareness brochure which is printed in both English and Spanish. The
Domestic Violence Program was a partner in our Heart to Heart Charity Ball
Food Baskets & Toiletry Baskets:
Every year, Soroptimists gather at a member's house to assemble
Thanksgiving Baskets and toiletry baskets. The food baskets are
donated to a family in the following towns: Chaplin, Coventry,
Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield and Windham. A food basket and all the
toiletry baskets were donated to the local Domestic Violence Shelter. We also
donated a basket to The Salvation Army. In addition to all
the canned goods, fruit, stuffing, coffee, biscuit mixes, pies, rolls
and lots more, each food basket contained a gift certificate to a
local supermarket. All the items for the food and toiletry baskets are
donated by our members. Check out the Photo Albums Page to see
pictures of this event.
Members bring canned
goods and/or non-perishable items to our monthly business meetings for
our food share service project. These items are donated to one of the
local area food pantries each month.
Next Step Program:
Improving Job Opportunities while Promoting Safety
The primary goal of
this project is to provide women residing in a Department of
Corrections work-release halfway house called Next Step Cottage,
with the opportunity to seek, obtain, and maintain legal employment,
thereby successfully re-entering society post-incarceration. The
program is part of Perception Programs, Inc. The women who reside at
Next Step work to overcome barriers to employment. Our financial
support allows these women to successfully cast a broader net in
their job seeking by providing the funds for the documentation and
transportation when needed.
Club members teach the women job interviewing skills, resume
writing, and dressing for
success. Our facilitated sessions address preparing for job
interviews and building self-esteem.
We are able to facilitate having the women think about what
qualities they have that make them employable, identifying strengths
and weakness regarding successful job interviews, completing job
applications, as well as giving them “dressing for success” practice
and engaging in personal enrichment activities.
We help to provide
appropriate attire for job interviews through the local clothing
closet and Soroptimist personal donations. Our club also provides
funds for gift cards for personal care products. A grant from our
Northeastern Region has provided funds for haircuts and manicures.
The impact upon
women’s lives through this simple project is immense. For many
women, this will be the first time they have been legally employed.
A woman’s sense of self-worth, her self-esteem and her ability to be
safe is increased when she is able to provide for herself and does
not need to depend on someone else for income. By obtaining
employment the women will have increased their chances for
successful reintegration into society post-incarceration. The
ability to find and secure safe housing is increased with
sustainable employment. The opportunity to re-unite with her
children is increased when a woman has a legal income and secure
International of Willimantic has supported this project since 2008,
expending $17,500.00 in grants to Next Step Cottage including
$12,000 received from Soroptimist International of the Americas.
Without our support, this highly successful program for women would
be a bare-bones Department of Corrections funded facility that would
not be able to provide the extras needed to ensure that the women
who go through their doors become and remain productive members of
Relay for Life
For the past several years, our club has been a Copper donor for the
Relay for Life with a $500 donation from our club. Members from our club participate on the planning committee and are a
true asset to the planning of this terrific event. Club members help to register survivors and
set up the survivor luncheon. Our booth at the relay also serves as
the information booth for the event. Our team name is Soroptimist and Friends
which consists of members and friends who all work together to raise
funds and awareness. This is a wonderful and
rewarding experience for all involved. You can see a few pictures
our booth. For more information on the Windham Area Relay for
Life, please visit their website at:
To make a donation to our team,
is a picture from this past weekend, June 2, 2012, of our Violet
Richardson Award winner, Adriana Jiron, with her "Junior Soroptimist
Group" at Relay. Click picture to enlarge.
Safe Choices Workshop
Soroptimist International of Willimantic has sponsored a free
workshop for girls to help young women make safe
choices in their everyday lives. Freshmen High School Girls from area schools are
invited to attend. Transportation is paid for by our club to transport the
girls from their high schools to the workshop. The day normally starts
at 9:15am with the girls being provided with informational packets on
contemporary teen issues. Through out the morning, there are several
speakers on many topics including healthy behaviors, finance, internet
safety, nutrition, drug and alcohol abuse and personal safety. A pizza and
salad lunch is then provided. Gift certificates and other items
donated by local businesses and Soroptimist members provide door prizes for the girls.
At the conclusion of the workshop, the girls are
then transported back to their high schools.
Several members volunteer for the Special Olympics Swim Meet held
annually in March. On the evening before the swim meet, members help
with set-up and on the morning of the event, members are responsible
for the registration of volunteers. We also pay for sponsorship and
our logo is on the volunteer shirts and in the ads.
Walk of Life Endowment Fund:
The Walk of Life Endowment Fund was established by Soroptimist
International of the Americas Northeastern Region. This fund will
provide a legacy for the maintenance and upkeep of the Walk of Life in
Walnut Hill Park to preserve this tribute to those who have been
touched by breast cancer.
About the Walk of Life:
The first Walk of Life for breast cancer in the nation, sponsored
by the Northeastern Region of Soroptimist International of the Americas
is located at Walnut Hill Park, New Britain, CT. This location was
chosen because it is the site of the Connecticut Race in the Park. There are many walkways in Walnut
Hill Park but none more beautiful than the Walk of Life. The 780 foot
brick walkway is a commemoration to breast cancer victims, survivors
and their families. Some simply reveal a name, others a message.
Members of Soroptimist International of
the Northeastern Region initiated the project in 1996 through the
efforts of past Soroptimist Governor Rosemarie Burton, a breast cancer
The walkway, which is six feet wide, is located
behind the park's Darius Miller music shell and follows the finish
line for the Connecticut Race in the Park.
Area businesses and the bricklayers union have
donated many of the services needed to complete the project.
Women for Women International:
We are proud that our Willimantic club has sponsored a woman
survivor of war through
Women for Women International since
Women for Women International provides
women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the
tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and
self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies.
Women for Women International
envisions a world where no one is abused, poor, illiterate or
marginalized; where members of communities have full and equal
participation in the processes that ensure their health, well-being
and economic independence; and where everyone has the freedom to
define the scope of their life, their future and strive to achieve
their full potential.
Sponsoring a Woman
The Sponsorship Program is a direct, personal and hands-on approach
to supporting women survivors of war as they move from victims to
survivors to active citizens engaged in rebuilding their lives and
communities. Sponsorship offers a constructive, dignified way for a
woman to regain control of her life. This program helps bridge
isolation and alleviates the suffering often experienced by
survivors of war and violence.
As a sponsor, we pledge to contribute $27 per month to support one
individual woman in a year long program of vocational and technical
skills training, rights awareness and leadership education. Our
support provides the tools and resources our sister needs to rebuild
her life after war. Our monthly contributions will also help our
sister to obtain basic necessities for her family, like food, clean
water, and medicine; to pay school-related expenses for her
children; to use the funds as seed capital to start an
income-generating project. Perhaps more importantly, our letters
provide an emotional lifeline to a woman who may have otherwise lost
The following is a bit of information about the women we have
sponsored through Women for Women International:
Our Current Sister:
Salima G. B. lives in Afghanistan and graduated at the end of August,
was born in 1981. She is married and has a daughter. She started
her program in
April, 2010 and lives in Bosnia.
We sponsored Hafiza from April, 2010 to March, 2011.
Hafiza M was born in 1966. She is
married and has 3 children. She started her program in August, 2009 and
lives in Bosnia.
We sponsored Hafiza from August, 2009 to March, 2010.
was born in 1979. She is married and has 4 children. She started her
program in April, 2009 and lives in Bosnia.
We sponsored Ljila from April, 2009 to June, 2009.
was born in 1973. She is married and has 7 children. She started her
program in April, 2008 and lives in Nigeria.
We sponsored Beatrice from April, 2008 to April, 2009.
was born in 1974. She is married and has 4 children. She started her
program in April, 2007 and lives in Nigeria.
We sponsored Harira from April, 2007 to March, 2008.
Gladys O was born in 1965. She is
widowed and has no children. She started her program in April, 2006
and lives in Nigeria.
We sponsored Gladys from April, 2006 to March, 2007.
was born in 1962. She is married and has no children. She started her
program in April, 2005 and lives in Bosnia.
We sponsored Mirzeta from April, 2005 to April, 2006.
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