(Joplin, MO) — Soroptimist International of Joplin will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Soroptimist International with a proclamation reading and ribbon cutting on Thursday, September 30, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. at the offices of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.
In 1921, a group of women joined an organization in Oakland, California called Soroptimist to work toward strengthening their community. At the time, women weren’t permitted to join the all-male community groups. Since then, the organization has grown to about 1,300 clubs in 21 countries and territories throughout the world. The local club, Soroptimist International of Joplin, was formed in 1937.
A lot has changed for women and girls in 100 years. But the road to equality continues to be difficult. Women and girls face tremendous challenges solely because of their gender. And they suffer disproportionately from poverty, racism, sexual assault, domestic violence, and sex trafficking.
With its long history of working with women and girls, Soroptimist knows that helping them receive education, develop skills, and gain training is a powerful strategy toward achieving economic empowerment. The organization’s Dream Programs provide the access to that necessary education and training.
The Live Your Dream Awards® provide cash grants for women who are pursuing a degree or enrolled in a technical training program. The women, who provide the primary financial support for their families, may use the funds in any way that helps them achieve their educational goals—whether it’s to pay for tuition or rent or childcare. Each year approximately 1,800 women receive almost $3 million in cash grants. Since 1972, the program has helped more than 33,000 women and their families gain financial independence. Soroptimist International of Joplin has disbursed 29 Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards® to local women.
Soroptimist’s Dream It, Be It® program prepares girls for future career success by providing them with guidance, training, and resources to make good decisions. More than 73,000 girls have gone through the program since it launched in 2015. Soroptimist International of Joplin works with the young women of LovinGrace to provide this programming.
Soroptimist International of Joplin has also provided Camp Soroptimist as a yearly, recreational retreat for Jasper County children in foster care since 1984, when members of Soroptimist International of Joplin and employees of the Jasper County Division of Social Services/Children’s Division came together to focus on the needs of foster children.
“Our club is proud to participate in the Dream Programs, as well as other community projects including working with local domestic violence organizations and providing Camp Soroptimist to our Jasper County kids in need,” said Joplin Club President Lynda Banwart.
Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley and State Senator Bill White have declared October 3, 2021, as “Soroptimist International of Joplin Day” in recognition of the club’s many contributions to the community and the organization’s 100th anniversary. Former Soroptimist members, as well as other friends of the club, are invited to attend the proclamation reading and ribbon cutting. For more information about Soroptimist International of Joplin, visit joplinsoroptimist.org, or the club’s Facebook page at facebook.com/SIJoplin.
Rikki Smith, 1st Vice President
Soroptimist International of Joplin