Soroptimist International of Salt Lake was chartered Nov. 19, 1931 with 28 members. It was the first Soroptimist Club in the Intermountain West, and when organized became part of the Southwestern Region. Two Soroptimists from Sacramento, California, Blanch O. Edgar and May Matthay together with Laura McCurdy Clark of Salt Lake organized the club. Joanna Sprague, first librarian in Salt Lake, (Sprague Branch Library named in her honor), was oldest in age and therefore given the honor to become the first member of the new Club. Gertrude Arbuckle was the first President of the Club.
Soroptimist International 1939
Maude Baker was the President who worked to charter the Denver Club on January 23, 1939. President Margaret Andrews chartered the Ogden Club on May 29, 1939. Rocky Mountain Region came into being the following day, May 28, 1939.
The 1940‘s began with the first Regional Conference in Denver and Cornelia Lund, from the Salt Lake Club, was chosen the first Regional Director (Governor). The majority of 1940 was spent in preparation for the American Federation Convention. From United States and Canada, some 300 delegates assembled in Salt Lake City on June 16th for the 6th Biennial convention of the American Federation of Soroptimist Clubs. Margaret Embleton was convention Chairman, Ada Taylor Graham, Finance Officer and Vida Fox Clawson was Toastmistress.
The war years were busy ones. The Club worked diligently with the USO, American Red Cross, Polio and Cerebral Palsy Foundation, on Victory Bond Drives, and spent much time at Bushnell Hospital. In 1945 the Club sent bundles to Denmark through its Sister Club of Kalundborg. Items sent were soap, dried fruit, spices, needles, shoe laces, shoe polish, leather soles and heels for repairing shoes.
Every Past President of the Salt Lake Club attended, including Clara Miller, 95, the last living charter member. The Club organized the "Regional Rats" who performed on the Sunday Program of the Conference. This group of women all became leaders in our Region. In 1982 the Salt Lake Club chartered a Venture Club. Judy Robinson, Region Venture Chair, came from Ft. Collins to perform the charter ceremony. This was a wonderful experience having these young women to interact with. However, the Venture Club lasted for only 5 years. In 1983 we had a visit from the President of the Matsumoto Japan Club, Yasuko Aoki, with her niece Emy. This was the beginning of our second friendship link.
"Little Bits" was the newsletter for the Salt Lake Club, and was published monthly by Margaret
Embleton. In 1948 Reva Beck Bosone, an active member was elected the first woman from
Utah to serve in the United States Congress after having served as a Judge for 12 years.
Jessie Perry, was the second member of the Salt Lake Club to be elected to Regional Director
1946-48, and Margaret Embleton was the Regional Secretary.
The 1950‘s through 1970‘s were 30 years of hard work. Beverly Clopton arranged for a
Mountain Peak to be named Mount Soroptimist in honor of all the service our Club has given
to the community. The Club was busy raising money and conducting service pro-jects such as
scholarships for outstanding women at the University of Utah; serving on the Legislative
Council, Salt Lake Council of Women, and working with the Salt Lake City Boy‘s Home.
In the 1980‘s many new endeavors were started. A Soroptimist‘s Square in Midvale was created.
The Club supplied benches, trees and flowers to beautify the downtown, which still stands
today. Donations were made to YWCA, Camp UTODA, a camp for children with diabetes.
The Federation‘s Youth Citizenship Award, Training Awards Program, Making a Difference for
Women and Youth Forum were 100% supported every year with awards and donations.
The Salt Lake Club celebrated their 50th anniversary by hosting the Rocky Mountain Regional
conference. The Conference Chair was Marilyn Tang. Mary Guinn was President.
The Conference was outstanding and became known as the conference of the Roses.
Twenty-five dozen roses were donated as a celebration of our success in the community.
In 1990 the Soroptimist International of the America‘s convention was held in Kyoto, Japan and President Irene Himmelberger, Pamela Bennion, and Marilyn Tang, District Director had the opportunity of meeting with the Matsumoto Soroptimists. In 1991, to celebrate our 60th year anniversary, the Club again hosted the Rocky Mountain Region Conference. Thelma Olsson and Marilyn Tang, Co-Chaired the Conference at the Salt Lake Hilton. Patsy Daniels was our Federation Guest. The theme for the Gala Saturday night was "Movie Star", and Patsy came as Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra costume. This Conference ended with entertainment by the Salt Lake Scotts with the Drum and Bag Pipe Band, sweeping everyone off their feet.
In 1994 our club awarded Victoria Fisher with the Training Award Program (now known as the Live Your Dream Award). We then presented her application to the Region and were thrilled when Victoria was awarded $3,000 at our Regional Conference. Then competing with 29 other Regional award winners, Victoria was chosen as the top winner and flew to Dallas, Texas to be honored and receive a $10,000 award from Soroptimist International of the Americas. This remains one of the most exciting events of our club history. Vikki Fisher joined our club with her first paycheck!
In 1995, Kay Ruiz, Ruth Fox, Pamela Bennion, Marilyn Tang, and Margy Russotto attended the International Convention in San Francisco. Pamela Bennion and Marilyn Tang also attended the "Fourth World Women‘s Conference" in Beijing, China where they interacted with leading women from all over the world. Also in 1995 our Club was awarded a Making a Difference for Women grant from the Soroptimist Federation in the amount of $3,000 for our Horizonte Young Parents Project.
In 1996, Marilyn Tang became the 3rd Salt Lake member to be Governor of the Region. It was the 100th anniversary of Utah‘s Statehood, and 50 years since a member from the Salt Lake Club had been Governor.
In the summer of 1997 members hosted eight Matsumoto students in our homes. One student was Kayo Aoki, granddaughter of Yasuko Aoki. Also, in 1997 Pamela Bennion and Marilyn Tang visited Soroptimists in Budapest, Hungary and Warsaw, Poland.
In February of 1998, Governor Marilyn Tang attended the SIA Youth Forum in Nara, Japan. She also visited the Matsumoto Club and stayed at the home of Yasuko Aoki. In May of that year Margy Russotto also visited the Matsumoto Club and attended one of the sessions at their Regional Conference in Hamatsu, Japan, In July, Eiko Ito, the President of the Matsumoto Club and Hisayo Kirihara, a member of that Club, came to Salt Lake to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of Salt Lake City‘s Matsumoto‘s "Sister City" association.
At conference in Casper, Wyoming in May 1998, President Ruth Fox and the Salt Lake Club presented Governor Marilyn Tang with a Laurel Society Pin. Contributions had been made from every Club in the Region towards the $1,000 donation to the Soroptimist Foundation for which the Pin is awarded. In 1997 and 1998 the Salt Lake Club was recognized as the most outstanding Club in the Region.
In July, 1999 the Soroptimist International Convention was held in Helsinki, Finland. Our Club was represented by Marilyn Tang. In December of that year we lost one of our long loved members when, after celebrating her 90th birthday in June, Margaret Rebecca Embleton died. She loved Soroptimist and was a devoted member for 67 years. She donated $6,823 to our club to be used toward a permanent meeting place for Soroptimist.
Our club has won the outstanding club in our region award for 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. In 2002 we were surprised to receive the top regional award for Public Relations. This resulted from a great club effort when our fund raising Gala lead by Bonnie Hallett, Committee Chair, was extraordinarily successful and gained newspaper attention. The club also won an honorary award from Horizonte School as Top Community Partner. Also, in 2002 Soroptimist of Salt Lake was awarded a Making a Difference for Women Grant from the Soroptimist Foundation in the amount of $3,000 for our continuing Horizonte "Young Parents Project".
2002-2003 brought excitement as well as despair with a troubled country at war with terrorism. One of our members, Captain Jewel Naffziger, was called up from the reserves to serve our country. The Soroptimist International convention was held in Sydney, Australia in July 2003 and five members from our club attended. The members included President Offrett, Kay Ruiz, Irene Himmelberger, Marilyn Tang, and Captain Jewel Naffziger, who had taken leave from the Army in order to attend. There, along with our Regional Rocky Mountain Region, these ladies proudly lent their support as our own Regional member from Scotsbluff, NE, Joan Cromer was sworn into office as the new President of Soroptimist International The convention offered great opportunities to see Soroptimists who had previously visited our Club. Among these were Carolyn Hudson and Fei-Wan Chong from Australia, Gisela Silfvering from Sweden, and Lene Olrik from our Friendship Link in Kalundborg, Denmark.
2003-2004 was the first time the Margaret Embleton Memorial Award was awarded; two students at each Glendale Intermediate and Northwest Jr. High received the awards. We started the a SLC Club International project in conjunction with SI Miranda, Venezuela to pay for the salary of a teacher to train women in poverty in office skills to assist in getting jobs to support their families. We started a SISLC website. Also our Making a Difference for Women award winner from 2003, Elaine Weiss, was awarded the first SIA Making a Difference for Women award at the SIA convention in Calgary, Canada. Salt Lake Club received 501(c)(3) designation.
2005-2006 was a year of successes for the students at Horizonte School participating in the Young Parents Program. Throughout the year the girls participated in our monthly mentoring program, including written reports on the subject matter presented. We were able to award 6 girls at the end of the school year with honors for participation in the program. We successfully completed a number of hands on projects including dinners at Ronald McDonald House and the Homeless Shelter. We also continued to provide funding for the girls involved in the SI Miranda, Venezuela project that are receiving computer training. 2005-2006 was a year of natural disasters throughout the world including the ruin of New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Indonesia. We participated with funds to help women and girls recover from these disasters.
2007-2008 our president Carma Ingram, was proud to see our greatest increase in fund raising during our club‘s history. In addition to the monies raised at our fund raisers, SIA awarded our club a $7,000 grant toward our Horizonte Possibilities Project, providing books and assistance to our young women Horizonte graduates seeking higher education. We also held our 1st annual Breakfast with Santa providing gifts for over 250 children.
2008-2009 our President Marilyn Tang, spearheaded a tremendous year of successes for our club. Our membership goal was 10 new members and we exceeded it by 2. This sets a new high water mark for club membership in a given year. Our Horizonte project Possibilities", through the help of the SIA grant of $7,000 we received, assisted 13 mom's continue their education after graduation from high school. In addition we were able to provide support for the school nursery in much needed supplies. We had an exceptional year of fundraising through our Fashion show/luncheon ($10,000.+) and our event at Market Street Grill Cottonwood,
which we were pleasantly surprised to net over $4,200 for Breakfast with Santa project. Our project at the Juvenile Observation and Assessment Center has expanded and we have many committee members that want to provide hands-on service. Our Breakfast with Santa event has also expanded. We provided a hot breakfast for over 113 mom's and approximately 220 children. In addition to having just about all of our membership participate, there were over 120 community volunteers. Albertsons Foods donated all food and kitchen service again as their annual community project. We received media coverage on 3 TV stations, as well as many Public Relations announcements throughout the year. We continued other successful projects as well. Womens Opportunity Award for 2 was $2,000 each; Jeanne Schneiter Adovnik award $2,000; Margaret Embleton award for 2 at risk high school students who made significant improvement in citizenship and attendance and Violet Richardson award $250.
2009-2010 our President Nancy Mitchell saw us reach our goals. SI Salt Lake County won the Region Award for Program based on our Breakfast with Santa event., where 158 volunteers served 106 single mom‘s and their 201 children. Warm clothing and toys were given to the mom‘s to relieve their Christmas stress, as well as, breakfast served and photos with Santa. Our club was featured on television where we discussed the work we do in the community and internationally, as well as several other mentions in local media. We held our two major fund raisers, Market Street and Fashion Show, and again earned over $15,000 for our coming year of community and club support. We were again awarded an SIA grant in the amount of $8,000 for the "Possibilities" project, where we purchase books for our Horizonte Young Parents who have continued their education in college.
2010–2011 saw our club‘s membership increase to over 50. In addition to our Horizonte Young Parents Program and Breakfast with Santa, Salt Lake Soroptimists undertook two new projects. Crop 'til it Stops, a scrapbooking fundraiser for domestic violence awareness, raised $1200 for the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition‘s LinkLine. In partnership with the Salt Lake Council of Women, we hosted our first annual International Women‘s Day Luncheon with Karen Shepherd as our featured speaker. Our Horizonte Young Parent‘s Program and our Public Awareness at Women‘s Conferences were Regional Finalists for Soroptimist Celebrating Success awards and our Horizonte Project was named a Best Practice at the Soroptimist International Convention in Montreal. President Cheri Richardson proudly announced at our final program meeting that we gave $32,100 to women and girls in our community and throughout the world during the 2010-2011 club year.
2011-2012 we celebrated the 80th anniversary of our club with a new fundraiser, "In the Arms of Our Love", netting $5,590. Our Breakfast with Santa Program provided Christmas for 109 single moms and 228 children in a beautiful setting thanks to Modern Display. The 'Live Your Dream' fundraiser took on a new look with the venue being moved to Log Haven restaurant and the fashion show being done by eight refugees from eight different countries in Africa. We participated in two new events providing public aware-ness and exposure for our club. The first was the "Goldilocks" women only Bike ride with 1,600 participants, and the second was the Little Red Riding Hood bike event which had over 3,600 women supporting the cure for breast cancer. Another new program was Granite Young Parent, due to the success of Horizonte YP. We were able to contribute $2,500 to SIA, "Club Giving" and donated $1,000 more for the following term year, in order to increase our support to SIA projects. We raised the amount of our Awards and Awardees in all of our programs, and we gave away $39,000. Our roster showed 70 members. We had a visitor from SI Bangalore, India; Rema Ramchandran. Our club was on T.V., news radio and newspapers exposing our mission. Our Former Salt Lake Governor, Olene Walker, was the keynote speaker at our International Women‘s Day celebration. Our club received $52,000 in total income for the year. We exceeded our goals in all for categories; Membership, Service, Fundraiser and Public Awareness.
"I send my heartfelt THANK YOU to all of our members for an amazing year!" -Gabrielle McAfee.
2012–2013 our Club started out the year with great presentations at Granite and Horizonte Young Parent Programs. Our first presenter at Granite was Gabby Garcia, a former Young Parent from the Horizonte Program who through education turned her life around and is now working for the Salt Lake Justice Court and for the Unified Police Department as a Victims Advocate. We presented Thurl Bailey his very own "Soroptimister" badge, he not only gave a wonderful presentation at the Horizonte Young Parent Program but also supported us at Breakfast With Santa. With help from a successful Market Street Fundraiser, Grants from American Express and the generosity of our own Gabriele McAfee and Café Madrid, we were able to expand our Breakfast with Santa event to over 150 Single Mothers and over 300 Children. The event was covered by several TV stations, and articles were printed in Deseret and the Hispanic News. We were also able to assist the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center with dozens of games and toys to replace those destroyed by water damage at their facility. Our Crop 'Till it Stops Fundraiser was also covered by the Media, and Kim Johnson weekend anchor for ABC 4 news became a member of our Club and began facilitating news coverage for our events. Through the generosity of Club Members and Café Madrid we were also able to assist "Education for Generations" a non-profit raising funds to support the building of a school in Kenya. We participated in the Hispanic Domestic Violence Conference and our Club was honored by the Latino Coalition Against Domestic Violence and President Margy Russotto accepted an award presented to the Club as an organization that makes a difference in our community. For our Live Your Dream Fundraiser this year we moved out of our comfort zone and held our first "Denim Diamonds and Double Diva‘s" event for which we received tremendous positive feedback from attendees and netted over $15,000 for our projects. It was a fabulous event made even more special by the fact that SIA President Raquel Arreola Ruiz was able to attend. Special thanks to new member Kim Johnson for her help in planning, recruiting local TV personalities, participating herself and in getting our message out to a larger audience.
2013-2014 President Barbara Rosner had a year of important changes, expanding horizons, re-organization and updating of club by-laws. During this year the club started a 2-year Treasurer position and 1 year Treasurer –Elect position. The board saw a need to extend the treasurer's time in office, the first year was spent learning financial functions and record keeping while also training the incoming treasurer-elect. The club changed to a 2 year treasurer assignment, this allowed the new treasurer time in the first year to learn club finances, the second year was to train the treasurer-elect. Our club continued with the DD-Divas fundraising at the Rice-Eccles Towers. We had models from different countries including Africa, Peru, Mexico and our good friends from ABC 4 Utah. The live band playing that night was 'Contagious', and they generously donated their talents. During this year the webpage of the club got an upgrade and started to be managed by the club, as well as our Facebook page. We increased the 'likes' on Facebook page from 150 to 500 that year. Our 'Live Your Dream' winner was Shirley Draper, she also won the Region and SIA Federation award. This year at our annual 'Breakfast With Santa' we served more than 140 mothers and 300 children.
2014-2015 our President was Jan Crane and our theme was "Make Time to Make a Difference" and we did! With a club of 50 members we put on our biggest "Breakfast With Santa" ever , it was organized chaos at its best, but fun for those who came and those who served. We hosted three very successful fundraisers - Market Street, Crop 'Till It Stops, and our gala, a Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball. We transformed the rooms at the Cottonwood Club and filled it with generous revelers. Many said it was our best event to date! We sponsored a new club this year, “The Latinas Soroptimist of Salt Lake” club was chartered with our club’s support. This was a big accomplishment as they started with 28 members. We honored deserving women and young women and gave recognition and cash awards to help them continue to "Live Their Dream." We had fun, worked hard, and in our small way made a difference in the lives of women and girls.
2015-2016 Our President was Cathy Stevens.
2016-2017 Our President was Sheri Hoffman.
2017- 2018 Our President was Teresa Just. Theme: Helping Hands, Caring Hearts. We achieved our goal to Increase Community Awareness through Service Projects and Partnerships including: Circles Salt Lake, Women of the World, Children of Peace, Utah Women & Leadership Project, Human Trafficking Symposium, Live Your Dream, Dream it, Be it; Ruby Award, Margaret Embleton Award and Breakfast with Santa. Our club was awarded a $3,500 club grant to add a mentoring program to Dream it, Be it.
2018-2019 Our President was Donna Schultz.
2019-2020 Our President was Loretta Peterson. 2020 was weird and full of challenges, but we managed to continue to meet by conference call and did what we could to progress. Some accomplishments from this year include: (1) Our Angel tree fundraiser where we raised over $6,000, and our Cancun opportunity drawing which raised $2300+; (2) Another successful Breakfast with Santa – We provided a modest Christmas to 128 families (265 children) utilizing more than 200 volunteers; (3) Three new members; (4) We awarded $6,000 cash awards to 3 deserving Live Your Dream award winners (Rebekah Louder, Suzanne Freeman, Amy Rasmuson) and $1,500 Jeanne’s Happy Heart – Carly Chiva; (5) Dream It Be it – Provided the DIBI education to girls at Granite Connection High School and awarded a $1,900 scholarship to Emeline Katoa; (6) Service Projects – Dream It Be It Binders and Meal donation for Circles of Salt Lake; (7) Public Awareness – AMEX charity fair, Waterford UpStart Day; (8) Founder’s Day Lunch – At Red Lobster with members; (9) District Meeting (Fort Hall, ID) Our Club was honored to receive recognition for good publications on our Facebook page. We also won awards for participating in the Dream It Be It program; Club Giving; the Live Your Dream; Celebrating Success—Membership, Programs, Fundraising, Public Awareness & Founders Pennies.