When the opportunity arose nearly four decades ago to launch a Boys & Girls Club to provide a safe haven for kids and address issues that arise when latchkey kids are left on their own, the Manteca Soroptimists didn’t hesitate to step up.
The Soroptimists — along with Manteca’s other community service clubs — have supported the club since before it opened its doors.
Soroptimists continued their commitment Wednesday donating $1,000 as well as having members man the phones during the 37th annual telethon that generates the lion’s share of funding needed to provide year-round programs for 1,800 youth.
The telethon continues today from 2 to 4 p.m. and this evening from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Soroptimists’ initial gift to the youth of the community 40 years ago was $5,000 to help underwrite the cost of an art room at the clubhouse at 545 W. Alameda St. that was built in a city park using donated funds and labor provided by the local carpenters union. That first donation is the equivalent of a $16,500 gift in today’s dollars.
Supporting youth — as well as advancing the cause of girls and women — is par for the course for the Manteca Soroptimists first launched in 1953.
After a cluster of teen suicides 30 years ago when four promising Manteca teens ended their lives in a suicide pact, the Soroptimists stepped up to help establish teen crisis counseling services through Manteca Unified schools. Their annual gifts average $10,000 with nearly $350,000 donated to date to the teen crisis counseling program that has become the club’s signature service event.
“We get little or no feedback at all,” noted Soroptimists President Carol Nunes said of their ongoing effort with the teen crisis counselling program and who they end up helping.
But that doesn’t bother them as they know that the counseling they are helping provide is being accessed by youth struggling with issues.
“It’s a blind gift,” Nunes said, noting that those are the best kind as you are helping people without a need to be praised.
The club also awards more than $12,000 scholarships a year. And that money doesn’t go just to graduating high school seniors. One of their scholarships is $1,000 for a single mom who is head of household who is going to college or a trade school. The gift is to the recipient and can be used for whatever is needed — gas, child care costs, books or tuition — in their quest to better themselves and provide for their family. The deadline for application for that award is Nov. 10.
Soroptimists have left their mark on the community over the years in a variety of ways including helping provide a playing field at Lincoln School for Manteca Little League. They also stage a day-long mentoring program for girls in seventh grade through high school that’s conducted at the Boys & Girls Club and open to those in the community. The event includes speakers, mentoring, and goal setting. They are planning to stage a similar event for young women over 18 years or age.
“It is designed to motivate and empower young women to achieve their dreams,” Nunes said.
The 30-member club has two fundraisers planned in the coming months.
One is the Holiday Affair on Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bank of Stockton on North Main Street. A $75 ticket provides two people with access that includes finger foods, plenty of engaging conversation, and an entry into a large drawing for various items.
Then in January they conduct a crab feed in conjunction with the Manteca Morning Rotary Club.
For further information on the upcoming scholarship program, possible membership or to buy a Holiday Affair ticket contact Leslie Trueb at 209-470-3585 or Carol Nunes at 209-608-2003.
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