Camp Fire one year later

It’s been one year since we were all devastated by the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, California and surrounding areas. I am so proud that we were able to raise over $100,000 to help women and girls in the area recover. We know that the dollars were well spent since they went through our two clubs in the community: SI Chico and SI Bidwell Rancho. You were all so generous, as were family and friends and Soroptimist all around the world.

I think we all learned so much about recovering from a disaster like this: how toxic debri had to be hauled away and how it took months to have clean drinking water back. To this day only a few homes have been rebuilt. But they are recovering, as the human spirit always does! And we made a little bit of a difference.

Here are a few pictures of the last year in Paradise and a link to an update of where the recovery stands. Check out the last picture: “Crafted from the keys of churches, firefighters, and even the 85 victims of the Camp Fire, Jessie Mercer’s Key Phoenix – a rendition of the mythical fire bird that rises from the ashes – is an image of moving forward from tragedy and loss.”

Thank you all!

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Expanding your horizons

Our first fall district meeting is in the books!

I am on the flight home from Las Vegas and feeling energized about this last year of the biennium. The interaction with other Soroptimists around the region is my motivation. I love being a part of the Region Leadership team. It fills me up to go to clubs like Pahrump Valley and be so warmly welcomed!

I am enthused about the future of the region because even though membership numbers are not what we wish they were, our members are engaged and your region leadership is passionate about their work.

I encourage more members to volunteer for a region coordinator role or an officer position. Have you ever stepped out of your usual routine to learn something new? Remember how fulfilling it was to accomplish something new? I can’t express enough how personally rewarding it is to make lifelong friendships and hope that you are making a difference helping clubs fulfill our mission. Please consider it! You can start small by being on a committee or being a committee coordinator for the region. Or if you have served as a club president, what about running for district director?

You won’t regret it!

Governor Lane

“Joy cup”

As our new club year’s start, here is my wish for your club:  I wish that you find the friendship and bonding that can come with a group of women working together towards the same goal and mission of helping women and girls.  My most memorable version of this experience was felt working on our first region Symposium on Trafficking in 2011 with Joanne Tremelling.  We had women from different clubs coming together and everyone contributed and it was such a great experience and sense of accomplishment.  I’m sure you feel some form of this with your club, but maybe it’s time for a little ‘warm and fuzzy’.  Have a social event and encourage everyone to come; Or have a ‘share’ when everyone tells about something that means a lot to them, maybe bringing a physical item to illustrate it;  Or how about doing  an icebreaker the where everyone goes around and tells something nice about the person next to them (I think there is something similar to this in the Dream It, Be It curriculum.)  In this politically charged time, it is important that we focus on the things that bind us together, not those that divide us.  Let’s cherish each other. We need our circle of women!  At least I do!  I am so grateful for my Soroptimist friendships!  My world is so much bigger because of all of you that have touched my life!  —

Where did all this come from?  From a simple quote I got from past District Director Jerri Curradi, who texted me today telling me about a grant that her club is in the running for. She is also the lead in starting a new club in the Wheatland area.  I complimented her on her successes and her reply was “It is that fantastic Soroptimist Synergy!  It fills my ‘joy cup’, for sure!”   I wish that feeling for each of you!!!

Being Present

I know I don’t blog enough to have anyone read this on a regular basis, but I am compelled to share my experience at the moment and I am going to commit to writing on a more regular basis in the final year of my biennium!

As I write this, I am in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the Soroptimist International Convention. I am so full of emotion and a need to be ‘present’ here. The overwhelming feelings of gratefulness, humility and pride are the most prominent.

What a privilege it is to be able to come to an event such as this. 

I am grateful that I live what seems like a normal, modest life to me, but obviously affords me the opportunity to travel to experience another corner of the world; I am grateful to interact with women from all over the world that all are working towards improving the lives of women and girls; I am grateful that our problems in our world that we address in our communities are of great importance to us but we don’t face issues of not having water to sustain life, we don’t live in war torn areas where rape is commonplace and it is used as a weapon, we don’t live in a world where (usually) women have to ask their husbands for permission to get treatment for an illness. It inspires me to continue our programs because the obstacles that women face in our world we can actually help with!

I feel humility that I am here with so many talented, gifted, inspiring women from all around the world. We have listened to panels of women all talking about gender equality and water, technology, violence and trafficking issues and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGD’s). They are all speaking English with so many different accents- Australian, British, American, Swiss, German, Malaysian, African, Indian, and more- all speaking the same language with different tweaks. So many powerful women humble me!

I feel very proud to be a part of this organization with all these amazing women, I’m proud of what we are accomplishing worldwide, I am proud to be a part of the larger organization, but proud of how Soroptimist International of the Americas has focused on how we can make a difference in our countries.

I highly recommend that everyone try to make this venture at least one time in a lifetime. It is truly awe inspiring!!!
Governor Lane

Welcome SI of Pinenut Valleys

What a pleasure it was to be able to be a part of the charter ceremony for our newest club: Soroptimist International of the Pinenut Valleys. They were officially chartered on March 23 and what a lovely luncheon it was. I was very pleased to see many Soroptimists come to celebrate with them! They have 14 members and one of them is even a man! That’s great to see!

I wanted to share more pictures with you all. Let’s do this more often!

Governor Lane


Let’s Grow Our Membership!

Nearly all clubs could benefit from more members. If we have more members, we can help more women and girls! Membership is one of our four ‘pillars’ of the organization:

Club Synergy

Successful clubs have all of these elements working. Each is reliant on the other. Since we are talking about membership: If you don’t have good public awareness, you won’t attract new members. If you don’t have a solid mission (program) and a purpose (women and girls), you won’t attract new members. If you don’t raise money for your programs, you won’t retain your members.

Does your club have at least one membership recruitment event each year? We all should! Make it fun and informative.

What sort of atmosphere or ‘vibe’ does your club have? Is it a vibrant room full of women with a purpose? Or women who are just in a routine of coming to a meeting and have forgotten the reason they are there? Think of ways to bring the mission back into each meeting. Mix it up, do something different at your meetings, make them fun and meaningful. This doesn’t all have to rely on your club leadership, but on each of us.

Let’s talk about the tools that you have available to help you recruit and retain members: SIA has a wealth of tools for you on their website: SIA’s Diamond Campaign. You’ll find everything from templates for flyers and club brochures to information on the different generations to retention tools. Dig in and see what might work for your club.

In our region, we have our Federation membership chair Trudy Mills, who is more than willing to talk to you or come to your club to discuss ideas on how to grow your membership. She has some great ideas on appealing to ’empty nesters’, which just might be a great target market for us to look for new members. She has posted some of SIA’s tools on her region page on our website as well. She also has a great corporate engagement opportunity to approach women in businesses in our communities. Our region website is Just click on the Membership tab.

Lastly, $$$$$$$! Did you know that there is Region money available for membership recruitment? There is! If your club has less than 12 members, you just need to contact your district director and she will get with Trudy. Have a plan on how you want to spend the money to attract new members and they have the power to get you the money. If you have more than 12 members but see membership as an issue (which, honestly, is most clubs), put together a plan and the board will consider it at our next board meeting, which is in the end of April. If it’s a solid plan, it will probably be approved.

Your region is here to support you and help you grow. Let’s do this!

Lane Parks

Soroptimist Orientation and Leadership Training


One of the many awards that we have at the region level is the Blanche Edgar Award for S.O.L.T., which stands for Soroptimist Orientation and Leadership Training. The award is for clubs that have programs that show innovation in educating their members. Applications are due March 1 to

While S.O.L.T. sounds a little old fashioned, there is so much in the concept that all clubs should try to implement. It is essential that we do orientation for new members to help them feel a part of the club and not overwhelmed by acronyms and discussions about projects that they don’t know about. Most clubs do this in one form or another, whether it’s a ‘S.O.L.T. minute’, ‘grains of S.O.L.T’ or a formalized mentoring program for new members. Make sure this hasn’t fallen off the radar with your club. You work hard to get new members and we need to try our best to keep them!

I’m betting most clubs don’t address the second part of S.O.L.T. too often – and that’s Leadership Training. How many clubs find themselves having a tough time finding people to run for office? Many, I am sure. We need to better prepare people for leadership roles. We need to find a way to take the fear out of running for office. We need to assure those that do step up that we have their backs and are here to help them, however we can. How do we better do that?

It starts with Soroptimist Orientation and making sure everyone knows who we are, what we do and that we are supportive of one another.
Next, it takes encouragement from current leaders. We must mentor all our members and don’t make the leadership jobs look too overwhelming – because they don’t have to be! We should lead as teams and engage our members to help lead the club. Yes, being a club leader does take dedication, but doesn’t that come from our passion for the organization? Yes, it takes stepping out of our comfort zone, but isn’t that how we grow as individuals?

Remember being a leader doesn’t mean that you have to jump right into being the president! Take a committee chair role, become a delegate, or run for another office in the club. If you really want to expand your horizons, join the region team as a coordinator or officer and gain a whole new group of friends and experiences. Yes, I spend a large amount of time working on region business, but I love doing it! I love my circle of friends that I have acquired. I love our mission and helping clubs. But you don’t have to have governor in your sights (or maybe you do!) just take a leadership role of some sort as a start.

Here is a page from the Soroptimist International of the Americas website that has all sorts of support for leadership. They now have a dedicated staff member for leadership development and they are committed to helping clubs develop leaders. We all should take on the challenge as well.


I am new to blogging, but I do realize that if you do not do it consistently, no one will read it and I am GUILTY!! So if you are reading this, THANK YOU!

But regardless, I am feeling Thankful this Thanksgiving day:

Thankful for family and friends that I am sharing this day with…

Thankful for the opportunity to walk in the Run to Feed the Hungry this morning -it was beautiful weather and I enjoyed walking with 27,000 other people contributing to the Sacramento Food Bank …

Thankful to be a Soroptimist!! Our members are so generous and caring. That’s why I am a member! Surrounding myself with other women (and men) that share the same mission, to improve the lives of women and girls…

Specifically, I wanted to update you all on the progress of the fund for victims of the Camp Fire. As of yesterday morning, we had in almost $18000 collected!!! You all rock! And I know that much more is on the way. As a reminder, the money will be split between the two clubs in Chico, who each have a committee to make sure the funds are spent in a judicious manner, making sure our members that have been displaced are taken care of first. I am so proud to be involved in this effort! The magnitude of the aid that is needed is immense and overwhelming! But
I know that our members will handle the pressure admirably!

The resources needed to get the thousands of people back on their feet is immense. Please check out this page from SI Chico’s website that lists all the resources available to them: .

Please also see these letter of congrats from our SI and SIA presidents:

Dear Governor Lane,
Your SIA Board of Directors and staff are heartbroken by the recent wildfires in your region. Please know that we are thinking of our clubs and members in your region, and standing in solidary with you.
As you know, the SIA Board decided several years ago to discontinue our disaster relief program. Disaster relief is not our core business and we simply lacked the resources to undertake these efforts in a sustainable way throughout our 20 countries and territories. We recognize, however, that Soroptimists are generous, caring people. It’s in our DNA to want to help when we see people suffering. And we know often the desire is to help immediately.
With that in mind, we encourage our clubs and regions to donate to local organizations that serve women and girls. We know that women and girls are always more vulnerable during and after disasters. Domestic violence shelters, for instance, are often in great need post-disaster. Domestic violence rates increase during and after disasters, and shelters may be damaged or overwhelmed by new demand.
Should you decide to collect funds from your clubs, Lori Blair, SIA’s senior director of program services, can help ensure they will be going to an above-board organization capable of helping local women and girls in an expedient and meaningful way. Feel free to reach out to her: 215-893-9000 ext.114 or
Also, please keep in mind that post-disaster need outlives the news cycle. Rebuilding after large-scale disasters, be it the wildfires in California or an earthquake in Japan, takes years and even decades. As an alternative to providing immediate funds, please consider encouraging clubs to apply for a Soroptimist Club Grant to fund a local post-disaster project benefiting women or girls. Or, increase the number of Live Your Dream Awards provided to eligible applicants who were affected by the disaster.
Again, please relay our best wishes to any clubs or members who have been affected by this horrible disaster. Our hearts and prayers are with them.
Elizabeth DiGeronimo, 2018-2019 President Soroptimist International of the Americas

And this from SI President Mariet:

Dear Federation President Elizabeth, dear Soroptimists,


The shocking news-flashes we get on television regarding the wildfires in California are devastating. So many lost their lives, so many are homeless, so many lost all their memories, so many are missing and so many are unaccounted for. It’s incomprehensible and hard to imagine.


My heart goes out to all people involved, all Soroptimists and their friends and families and the brave firefighters and their families. I cannot find the words to express a response to such a tragedy.

I can only say that my thoughts are with you and I pray for safety and speedy containment of the fires.


I wish you all courage and strength.

Kind regards,



Mariet Verhoef-Cohen

President – Soroptimist International


Always be ready to learn something new…

I am a firm believer in learning something new all the time.  If we are stagnant and not willing to learn new things and look at things differently, then we start to wither.  Of course, as I ‘mature’, I occasionally question the practice of putting more information into my brain for fear of other important information ‘falling out’ when I need it!!! But at least I am thinking and learning….

What I learned this week was some great tips on ‘communicating’ from Kate Doscher at the District 2 meeting on Saturday, September 22.  She was the keynote speaker. How important is communication?  Learning the ins and out of proper communication can mean the difference between failing or succeeding in almost every aspect of life!!  When we are misunderstood, there can be all sorts of results that we didn’t intend. This is particularly important when communicating with club members and attracting new members! Kate gave us some great tips on how to be received well, including: 1) The responsibility of being correctly understood rests on the shoulders of the communicator and 2) how inflection in your voice can make you much more interesting to others! There were also tips on how to control some conversations at club meetings that may bog down the progress of the meeting.

We are happy to tell you that Kate will be a speaker at our Soroptimist Development Retreat next July (July 27-28, 2019).  It’s never too early to save the date and start planning on (and budgeting for) sending members of your club.  It’s not just for officers, there’s so much information for everyone and thanks to Jackie Sillman, our coordinator, there’s plenty of fun to be had as well!!

And how cute it this cookie?!! They were made by Cherie Stevens of Stevens Farmhouse, a member of SI Marysville Yuba City for the first time attendees at the District 2 meeting!  You rock!!

Stephens Farmhouse

Fall District Meeting Season and valuable anti-Trafficking information!

Our new club year has officially started and the Fall District Meetings are underway!  Our first meeting was District 1, which is far northern California.  What a great group of women!In addition to all the information from Region representatives, they had a great presentation on trafficking from Linda Lucena.  She brought to our attention two apps that can help with fighting Sex Trafficking.  Please check them out! The first is called Circle of 6 and is meant to prevent young girls from getting taken by traffickers: The second one is and is an app for you to use in your travels to take pictures of the inside of hotel rooms that you stay in. Law Enforcement can then use the information to try to get a match and locate girls that are forced to have their pictures taken in rooms. She also shared the Blue Campaign which helps you identify victims of trafficking and tells you what you can do about it! :

Great stuff!

Then, this morning SI Washoe County shared this great blog on keeping your daughter safe from traffickers. So valuable:

See you soon at your district meeting!