Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that 2020 is finally behind us. Although 2020 brought confusion, isolation, fear, and frustration, it also highlighted the humanity that exists in our community. Neighbors checked on neighbors, friends reestablished lost connections, and families found new ways to engage with one another. Our community came together to help struggling businesses, food banks, and other available resources for their fellow citizens.
Our club is no different. At the beginning of our fiscal year, we thought we too would become a victim of the pandemic and were prepared to significantly scale back our programming due to lack of funds. However, due to the generosity of SISN member Joanne Briggs and several sizable donations from our community and our members’ networks, we can excitedly share that not only will we be able to provide all the grant opportunities and programs that we usually provide, but we believe we are also in a position where we can answer SIA’s call to provide an additional Live Your Dream Award! This additional award is a huge milestone for our club, and highlights how much our community values women’s success. When women succeed, we all succeed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Joanne and to everyone who donated to help ensure that SISN is able to provide community service grants, holiday donations, and Live Your Dream Awards. Furthermore, we also added two new members to our ranks, and are very excited to watch their SISN journey.
New years are typically viewed as a time of renewal. As we begin 2021 and look forward to a time when we can safely gather in person, we must all renew our commitment to providing opportunities for success to women and girls. Although we are now closer to a vaccine and the future is looking bright, we mustn’t forget that the hard work is not yet over. Coming out of the pandemic is only the first step – our society has changed, and we must also continue to think of new ways to safely engage with our neighbors, our friends, and our city. Many women and their families will feel the economic impact of the pandemic in the months ahead, even as businesses reopen and things return to “normal.” It is our duty to make sure we continue to support those who need it most. I thank you for your continued support of SISN’s work to empower women and girls.
Sydney Lewis, President
Like many of our projects and fundraisers in 2020, Christmas brought uncertainty about whether SISN would be able to participate in any of our traditional holiday projects. Would people feel comfortable receiving our popular candy rolls? Would Stanford Settlement be hosting their Operation Cratchit Christmas giveaways? Would it be possible and safe to go to juvenile hall to judge the Christmas decorating contest?
Initially, we had written the projects off and had all but decided not to do them. However, SISN members reached out to Stanford Settlement and received confirmation that Operation Cratchit was a go. They were also interested in receiving candy rolls for the seniors, juvenile hall decided to accept unopened bags of candy from our club so they could still provide the kids with Christmas morning gifts, and they decided to make the Christmas decorating competition a virtual event.
With a lot of dedication and interest from members and a little holiday magic, SISN collected children's toys, clothes, cash and check donations, wrapping paper, and more over the course of two weeks to donate to Stanford Settlement's Operation Cratchit. A select few members worked to create a "relay" candy roll party to keep everyone safe while still supporting our community. Bags of candy were donated to juvenile hall, and members participated in online voting for the decorating contest. As with much else in 2020, our club worked to find new ways to support our community while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
In a usual year, Stanford Settlement serves about 500 families during Operation Cratchit, providing families with food, gift cards, clothes, and children's toys for the holiday. In this pandemic year, with community needs much higher, they served over 700 families! Thanks to the support of individuals, organizations, and non-profit groups like ours, Stanford Settlement was able to grow their reach during what can be the toughest time of year for families, and in the middle of a public health crisis to boot. What a Christmas miracle!
JUVENILE JUSTICE CHAPLAINCY
ANNUAL CHRISTMAS DECORATION CONTEST
As an annual tradition, SISN members serve as judges for the Juvenile Justice Chaplaincy sponsored Christmas decorating contest which is held at the Sacramento Youth Detention Facility. Each youth unit, decorates their shared living space based on a theme. This year‘s theme was, “A Christmas movie” and nine youth units participated in the contest. Historically, the judging has been in person but in efforts to keep the youth and staff healthy, our members judged the decorations through pictures and email. According to the coordinator, the residents were excited about decorating and with the way the year had gone, had a lot of fun expressing their creativity. The top three units received a monetary prize. First Place $100, 2nd place $75 and 3rd place was a $50 prize (the prize money usually gets spent on outside food for the residents).
Here are a photos and JJC Coordinator's descriptions of the first, second and third place winners' presentation of their decorations.
1st Place - Housing Unit 17 - Frosty the Snowman
"We were greeted by youth who explained every detail of the decorations including how Frosty melted in front of the fireplace and became a puddle of water. Frosty the snowman had a youth inside of it and he "began to dance around" the day space. They had the movie playing on a projector screen too."
2nd Place - Housing Unit 1 - Polar Express
"The youth greeted us at the door as the conductor welcomed us and the ticket man distributed our tickets to get on the Polar Express. The youth gave us a tour of the train, explaining each section of the train. At the end of the train tour, we met three "children" sitting underneath their Christmas tree, and then they opened their Christmas presents."
3rd Place - Housing Unit 10 - The Grinch
"The female youth reenacted a scene out of the Grinch, showing the Grinch running into the home and stealing Christmas presents, the dinner table place settings, the flowers off of the mantle, etc. while Max the dog watched. Other youth acted as who's, standing in their "who-houses" watching the Grinch steal everything."
As a treasured tradition, SISN members were grateful to be able to participate as virtual judges this year. Despite the distancing, we were able to see the creativity and talent that the residents put into the creating the themed decorations and all the residents should be very proud of themselves.
New Member Introductions
SISN is excited to welcome Leslie Bailey and Kate Ahrens to our club!
Where were you born? Sacramento, CA (I am a sixth generation Californian)
What is your passion or what are you interested in doing? I enjoy spending weekends at Clear Lake with my family. My sister and I have shacks next door to each other which allows for some good old fashioned family time of long summer nights, feeding ducks, fishing, boating…..
When did you join Soroptimist? 2020
Why did you join Soroptimist? I joined Soroptimist because I was lacking a volunteer commitment and was encouraged by my friend, Lisa. Prior to joining I admired the fellowship of this group which made it attractive to me. What projects are your favorite? My favorite projects tend to be the hand-on creative projects. I have very little experience thus far but I enjoyed making the candy rolls in particular. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better when we can meet in person.
What would you like to do for Soroptimist? At this time in my life, I would like to be a helper as I continue to be employed full time and have my hands pretty full most of the time.
What is / was your career and title? I am a Senior Paralegal at a law office. I’ve enjoyed over 20 years with my current employer and have been in this field for over 30 years.
Tell us a funny or great story about your life. I followed my husband home from school when I was a freshman in high school almost forty years ago. Our parents were certain that our relationship was doomed and that it would “never” work out – we have put a lot of effort into proving them wrong.
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