Thirty-eight eight years ago the Manteca Soroptimists had a dilemma.
They need to step up fundraising to help support various endeavors in the community while their members had grown a bit weary of their primary source of funding — bingo games.
That’s when members Arlene Sevor and Susie Beeler hatched the idea of staging the Holiday Affair, an evening of light foods and desserts built around conversation and a chance to win a new 1980 Chevrolet Cavalier that was conducted in the lobby of the then Delta National Bank that is now F&M Bank.
The 350-ticket event sold out that first year.
Now some 38 years later the car raffle is gone, the locale has been moved to the Bank of Stockton lobby, but the event still sells out as it is considered by many who attend as a must Christmas season gathering.
While chatting with friends and renewing old acquaintances is a driving force for ticket buyers, right up there with it is supporting the Soroptimists community efforts that include donating over the years more than $350,000 to their marquee service project of helping fund crisis counseling for Manteca Unified students.
“Everybody loved it,” Seevor said Wednesday of that first Holiday Affair.
Seevor, the Holiday Affair, and Soroptimists are still going strong as evidenced by the sell-out crowd Wednesday.
Seevor said she is a bit surprised the event is still successfully as it is normal for most fundraisers to die down in popularity and fall to the wayside as the years pass. She noted that many people are so attuned to attending that they actually end up calling for tickets in years that the service club is late getting things in place for the December event.
The Manteca tradition that marked its 38th year Wednesday is what gave life to a guiding star in 1987 that has helped countless Manteca-Lathrop teens find the way to escape dark places in their hearts and souls.
It was 30 years ago that a cluster of teen suicides rocked the community. Four promising lives ended in a suicide pact.
The Soroptimists — a collection of business and professional women brought together by the drive to serve the community — stepped up. They made a significant donation to help Manteca Unified secure on-campus counselors from Valley Community Counseling Services. It has paid dividends in keeping teens from losing their lives when dark thoughts overwhelm them dealing with things such as parents divorcing, a family member with substance abuse problems, the death of a parent or sibling, and handling other pressures.
School officials have credited the teen crisis counselors for substantially reducing the potential for young people to make decisions that could result in negative consequences to their academic performance, future career paths, their health and lives.
Helping support the teen counseling services in the schools is just a part of what the service club does.
They provide well over $10,000 in scholarships — including seven $1,000 scholarships that go to each of the district’s five comprehensive high schools and two alternative schools. Support of the teen counseling is No. 2 on their list after scholarships followed by supporting the Boys & Girls Club and then other community endeavors such as the HOPE Family Shelters.
And the help they lend goes beyond money. Numerous times a year club members participate in hands-on projects helping those at the shelters. They also man phones to help raise additional funds during the Boys & Girls Club telethon to provide a safe alternative to almost 1,800 youth.
Manteca Soroptimists has a 64-year history of serving Manteca, and are welcoming new members. For further information contact Leslie Trueb at 209-470-3585 or Carol Nunes at 209-608-2003.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com