The local Soroptimist International chapter in Arkansas City is celebrating its 70th year of existence as a club.

On April 28, 1947, Soroptimist of Ark City’s installation meeting was held at the Osage Hotel, where 25 charter members celebrated a new civic club in Ark City.

The local club wished to continue Soroptimist International’s mission, which is to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.

The club’s first project was to furnish aid to complete the fireplace at the Girl Scouts’ “Little House,” now known as the Cleo Graves Memorial Hogan.

In the early years of the club, they held bingo and dance parties to donate funds for equipping rooms, sponsored a young woman through her training to be a nurse, and donated to the Eisenhower Museum and Library in Abilene, as well as to the local Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum.

In 1951, the Ark City club sponsored the chartering of the Winfield Soroptimist Club.

Two of the longest-standing programs for the club are the Live Your Dream Award, formally known as the Women’s Opportunity Award, and the Soroptimist Girls program.

In 1972, the club recognized its first local woman with a scholarship to help to further her education and serve as a positive role model for her children. The Soroptimist Girls program began in 1976 and each year recognizes nine outstanding high school senior girls with academic excellence, school involvement, and community service records.

The local Soroptimist Club continues to evolve and develop new projects and focuses through the years. A few years ago, the Ark City club established the Sock Project Plus, which provides vouchers for socks and underwear to children attending USD 470 schools. These vouchers are handed out to families at the beginning of the school year and can be redeemed at Walmart.

The Ark City Girl event encourages self esteem and confidence of young girls in grades 2-5, and helps them to understand the importance of making smart decisions. This event gives these young girls an opportunity to interact with successful women in a relaxed, fun setting.

Soroptimist International challenges its club to host a Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls event to provide girls with tangible strategies to accomplish their career goals. Other club projects include food pantry drives, sponsoring families during the holiday, diaper drives, providing hygiene products to schools, and supporting organizations such as the public library and arts center.

The Ark City club will expand its scholarship programs in the next year.

The club established the Alice Hunt Scholarship, named after a longtime member who passed away in 2014, a few years ago. This year, the club also will establish the Joan Kempf Scholarship, in honor of a longtime member who passed away in 2015. Both scholarships will be awarded to a deserving young woman who is a high school senior.

The club recently celebrated its 70th anniversary at its installation banquet in June, honoring its 2017-18 officers:

  • Jill Hunter, president;
  • Sarah Griggs, vice president;
  • Julie Uden, treasurer;
  • Mendy Pfannenstiel, recording secretary;
  • Tracy Muller, corresponding secretary;
  • Angie Bruce, assistant treasurer;
  • Karen Zeller and Pam Zimmerman, directors;
  • Blanche Schmidt, parliamentarian;
  • Linda Neal, past director.

“I am very proud of what we do as an organization and love calling myself a Soroptimist,” Hunter said. “Thank you, fellow Soroptimists, for supporting local and global women through the charitable volunteering of time, talent, and donations throughout the years. It is a pleasure to enjoy the fellowship of such a fine group of women.”

This information was provided by Soroptimists of Arkansas City member Suvanah Perdue.

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