Like the rest of the world, Soroptimist International of Ceres has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a club that thrived in previous years by doing business and enjoying social interaction during lunchtime at Alfonso’s Restaurant, the club was forced to move to a virtual platform to not only conduct regular business but also stay connected with club members.
Peterman said SI of Ceres lost few members at the beginning of the pandemic and grew from 43 members to 52. She credited members for their word-of-mouth advertising for the club.
“I’m getting the sense that there are people in the community who just really want to give back, especially right now, because they see the need given everything everyone’s been through in the last year,” said club President Amy Peterman. “It’s something they want to be a part of.”
Soroptimist of Ceres members have definitely risen to the challenge reflected in the theme for the year, “Adapt, Learn and Grow.” The club held its first meeting of 2020 in September via Zoom.
“In some ways our turnout for our weekly meetings has been better than it was in-person,” said Peterman. “I think there’s a convenience factor for people in addition to just being hungry for connection – whether it’s virtual or otherwise.”
Peterman said one of the club’s goal has been to stay connected with current members and grow club membership. One fun strategy implemented was to deliver birthday and new member lawn signs to each member’s house to help celebrate them. Photos of the members in front of their signs are posted on the club’s social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.
“We know we have members who are not coming to Zoom,” Peterman explained about the birthday greetings. “They’re not really interested in doing that, whether their technology is not up to speed or it’s just not their thing. So this is our way to let them know we’re still thinking about them and that they’re still an important part of our club and we’ll be excited to have them back when we can come back in-person.’
New member induction and orientation events have been held to welcome new members throughout the year.
October brought the first drive-through fundraiser for the club. Hallo-Wine & Treats was held at the Tuolumne River Lodge, where mask-wearing members distributed a box of delectable treats and a bottle of wine to customers.
The club was able to raise funds for service projects as a result of the community support at the event.
The annual Goodie Auction held – to raise funds for club operations – went completely virtual. Club members stepped up and donated some nice items for auction. Using the platform RallyUp, club members and their friends and family were able to bid on items online. The club exceeded the fundraising goal of $500 by raising nearly $2,500.
The club is in the midst of offering a virtual “Dream It, Be It” workshop series and celebration event focused on helping young women in high school identify and develop a plan for achieving their dreams. Saturday workshops focused on career exploration in the areas of medical, political science/social service, education, and psychology have been held during February and March, and the celebration event will be held on Saturday, April 24. Registration is still open: bit.ly/CeresDIBI
Another flagship program of Soroptimists is the “Live Your Dream” program. Ceres was able to award two LYD recipients awards of $1,500 to go toward expenses for pursuing higher education goals. That presentation will be made to two recipients at the April 7 Zoom meeting to share their stories.
Soroptimist International is still not allowing face-to-face meetings or events, so the club will not be holding a spring fundraising event. If community members are interested in donating to Soroptimist of Ceres, please consider visiting the website at www.ceressoroptimist.org/ and click on the “Donate” button in the upper right corner of the page.
More information about the Soroptimist International of Ceres may be found on its Facebook page and on Instagram (@ceressoroptimists).