From The Beginning…
Twenty-five women from the Albany business community came together on September 16, 1987 to form Soroptimist International of Albany. These women were looking for ways to serve their community and become a part of an international organization. The goal for women around the world is to promote the “Best for Women”.
The first service project of Soroptimist International of Albany was the Elementary Assistance Fund. We realized there were disadvantaged children in our community who needed school clothing and school supplies. Through this project children received new clothing which helped them build self esteem.
In the early years our club sent funds to help women in Central and South America bring clean water to their villages and build ovens to bake bread to feed their families as well as earn a small income. By the late 90’s we helped women in Uganda build blocks for housing. With the income from the sale of these blocks and further financial support from our club the girls from the village were able to attend school and receive the same education the boys were receiving.
The signature project of our federation is helping women obtain the goal of further education. These women are usually the head of their household with the challenge of providing for their families. The opportunity to attend a trade school, a community college or a university prepares these women to enter the work place more prepared to meet those challenges. Our club has participated in this project since 1988. In 2010 our honoree received a cash award from the Northwestern Region.
Our federation, Soroptimist International of the Americas, also encouraged clubs to recognize high school students for their volunteer contributions to the community. We were very proud of our Youth Citizen Award; now the Violet Richardson Award recipient went on to receive recognition as one of the two students to represent our region.
In 1995 we held the first annual Walk for the Cause of Breast Cancer Awareness. Funds raised from this event are used to help women without health insurance meet their medical expenses. Three hundred people walked in the first walk and the number of participants has gone up throughout the years. By 2019 we had donated over $800,000 to local health care providers to help women in Linn and Benton Counties meet those needs.
We are honored to have one of the original twenty-five charter members active in the club today. They have been working hard for women and girls in Albany, Oregon and around the world for over 35 years!
Soroptimist Charter Members
Jo Ann Banning