Women have fun, while helping others

By: Kathy Maynard, Loomis News Correspondent
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A Loomis club is having fun working together to benefit women and girls locally and globally.

Soroptimists International of Loomis Basin, a volunteer organization for women, works to improve the lives of women and girls by raising funds to support community–based and international projects.

Soroptimists means “best for women,” and the Loomis Basin club was formed in 1974, said president Kaera Anzalone, a 3-year member.

As owner of Rejuvenate Day Spa since 2004, Anzalone said she was already donating to local schools and churches when Brenda Newsom, that year’s president, invited her to come meet with other women in the community who were doing the same thing.

“Working in a larger organization, there are more funds available to do more projects because we do the fundraising and can set bigger goals. It’s been fantastic, I’m addicted, I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life,” Anzalone said.

Throughout the year, the club hosts fundraisers such as Tostada Bingo and also raises money by serving beer and wine at many community events, including Loomis Thursday Night FamilyFest, the Eggplant Festival and the Red White and Blue Spooktacular Dance.

The group contributes to the Senior L.I.F.E. Center, which provides activities, companionship, exercise and lunches to residents 55 years and older. This year they hope to establish a program to provide fresh, healthy food to the seniors by asking local farmers and residents to donate produce from their farms and orchards. Their international focus was on supporting clean water projects by donating to the Seeds Of Hope International Project and the For One Another Foundation.

The Soroptimists also award several grants to teachers and volunteers as well as scholarships. Their annual Women’s Opportunity Award helps a female head of household who’s trying to make a better future for herself and her family by going back to college or a specific vocational program, said Chris Hebard-Summers, co-owner of Hebard-Higby Insurance, Accounting and Tax.

Hebard is a lifelong Loomis resident and Soroptimist member since 1992.

“Probably twice a year I come across someone who has won the Opportunity Award. She always tears up and says the money was fabulous, but it didn’t do anything compared to the support she received from the women she looked up to in her community,” she said. “When you join our club, you suddenly have a support network of women who would do anything they could for you. That’s why I remain passionate about Soroptimists and always will.”

The service club has about 30 members ages 20 through 70 and encourages women of all ages and walks of life to join. While many members are working professionals, Donna Altobelli, of Loomis, didn’t join until she retired from her daycare business three years ago.

“Being able to help somebody else, that’s what I like the most about it,” she said. “The women are absolutely fantastic and everyone always pitches in to help. In some organizations, just a few people do most of the work, but in this group, everyone does what they can.”

The group meets Wednesdays at 8 a.m. at the Loomis Train Depot and holds evening mixers quarterly. Anzalone said that even if members can’t attend the weekly meetings, they can help spread the word about their events.

“It’s so fun because you are never stuck doing anything alone. You have the freedom to do whatever interests you, from stepping up to start a project to just helping out occasionally on a committee. It’s amazing how so many women can work so well together and get so much accomplished.”

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