Soroptimists Award $15,000 in Scholarship Grants

by Jackie Piro Huyck, SI Vista NCI

VISTA, California, April 21, 2019—Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland awarded $15,000 in scholarship grants to three local women at their annual “Live Your Dream”  Awards gala held on March 23, 2019 at the Vista Optimist Club. About 130 people attended the $85 per plate event, which featured a reception with silent auction and cork pull, dinner and dessert. The event raised about $12,000 for the club’s Service Fund. Title sponsors were Tri City Medical Center, Modern Builders Supply, Runa the Realtor and California Real Estate Service. Dessert was donated by Sunrise Café of Vista.

Assembly member Tasha Boerner Horvath and Vista Mayor Judy Ritter were on hand to congratulate and present framed Proclamations to each woman. Vista councilman Joe Green was the guest speaker. He spoke about his own mother and her challenges as a single parent and lauded the Soroptimist’s mission of helping women get the education they need to support their families.

Each of the awardees spoke briefly about their struggles and aspirations. They asked not to be identified publicly for security concerns. Two of the women are attending Palomar College and one is a student at Cal State San Marcos. All are raising children alone after experiencing abusive and dysfunctional relationships and economic hardship. One is studying to become a registered nurse, another a lawyer, and the third, already a talented graphic designer, wants to be an e-commerce entrepreneur.  After the presentations, the women were surprised by an additional and unexpected award of a laptop and printer for each of them.

The club thanked the employees of Datron World Communications for their generous donation and also the Vista Optimist Club, who not only supplied the venue but also the food, which received rave reviews. “Everyone loved the venue, the appetizers and drinks in the bar, and the delicious dinner options,” said club Treasurer Pat Origlieri. “We’ve already decided to have our September 28 Casino Night fundraiser at the Optimist Club too.” Despite the similarities in name, the Optimists and the Soroptimists are two completely distinct non-profit organizations. “It’s a win-win to have our fundraiser there because the Optimist Club also makes some money from the event, which they then donate to their causes” observed Gala co-chair Aleta Dirdo.

Table Sponsors were: Catspaw Design-Build, Inc., Tri City Realty, Boys & Girls Club of Vista, Attorney Assly Sayyar, Massage by Lani, Attorney Paul Campo, Free Builders Supply, Charlie and Carol Buel, Law Offices of Phyllis J. McGreevey and the Rotary Club of Vista

The 2019 Gala Committee members were Co-Chairs Paula Nix and Aleta Dirdo, Sherry Luz, Thoralinda Soyland, Lani Beltrano, Runa Gunnars, Assly Sayyar, Karen Del Bene, Ellen Clark, Nelly Jarrous, Marge Swacker, Catherine Manis, Cherie Wilson, Judy Gregorie and Jackie Piro Huyck.

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Soroptimist Desert Coast Region Spring Conference 2019

$45,000 in Scholarships awarded to 9 Region Live Your Dream Finalists

More photos are viewable at

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Andrew Schmidt of Awaken Fair Trade to Speak at May 2nd Collaborative Meeting

Save the date for this Collaborative Meeting on May 2

Soroptimist STOP Trafficking Program

Our next Collaborative meeting is Thursday, May 2nd at 9 am at our usual location: United Methodist Church, 490 South Melrose Drive, Vista, California (downstairs, in Fellowship Hall). Our guest speaker is Andrew Schmidt of Awaken Fair Trade.

Emily and Andrew Schmidt started Awaken with a vision that a business could create one of a kind products and change lives at the same time.

“We’ve always felt blessed to grow up in a country that supports freedom and has given us opportunities many would only dream of.We set off to find partners that were doing amazing work in challenging socioeconomic communities. Through a lead at a human trafficking presentation we heard about a Thai business that employs those coming out of prostitution and human trafficking in Thailand. We headed off to Bangkok to share our vision and hear theirs and have now been working together for over 5 years…

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Tickets on Sale Now for Salad Bar Luncheon Fundraiser

March 27, 2019, VISTA, California–Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland will host their annual Salad Bar Luncheon fundraiser at Grace Presbyterian Church in Vista at 1450 E. Vista Way on Thursday, April 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Soroptimist members and local dignitaries and will don aprons and serve up a smorgasbord of salads and desserts prepared by Club members and local restaurants. In addition to the salads, the luncheon includes roll, baked potato with toppings and beverage, and a selection of desserts. “This is a great community gathering as well as being a fundraiser for our club,” said Soroptimist member Jackie Huyck. “All proceeds go to help women and girls through programs that lead to social and economic empowerment. Great food, a gift basket and money hat raffle, and our wonderful Vista firefighters will be there to help serve the salads,” she said.

This year’s event sponsors are Kenny’s Kar Klinic, Judy Ritter, Dee Dee Timmons/Allstate, Dusty Hill Holistic Health, Orchard Gold and TLC Chiropractic (Thoralinda Soyland).

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets are available from any club member or online at or by calling (760) 683-9427 or emailing

Soroptimist International of Vista & North County Inland is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, part of an international service organization of professional women who seek to improve the lives of women and girls both locally and internationally. The funds raised by the club are distributed to women and girls in need. The club meets every first and third Friday for lunch at locations in Vista.

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March Collaborative Meeting

Soroptimist STOP Trafficking Program


Notes by Allison Metzler, SI Vista and North County Inland

Next Meeting is May 2, 2019 Guest speaker TBD

Kaye called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m. Several first-time visitors joined us. (note *’s by their names on the attendance list).
• Andrew Schmidt from Fallbrook and his wife have launched program which assists trafficked survivors from Thailand.
• Several members of United Methodist Church expressed interest in our work which correlates with their United Methodist Women’s mission outreach program to address human trafficking.
• Mandy May-Fitzgerald, Registered Aroma Therapist, stated as a private citizen she wanted to learn more. (Later in the meeting she volunteered to join Friends of the Park, homeless outreach.)
• Jackie Huyck, Soroptimist Int’l Vista and North County Inland invited all attendees to attend the SIVNCI Live Your Dream Awards Gala

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Homeless Outreach Leaders to Speak at March 7 Collaborative Meeting

Coming up March 7 …

Soroptimist STOP Trafficking Program

Kaysee and Norio Morota of Friends of the Park

The next meeting of the North County San Diego Anti-Trafficking Collaborative is Thursday, March 7, 2019 from 9 am to 10:30 am at the United Methodist Church of Vista’s Fellowship Hall located at 490 South Melrose Drive in Vista. Guest speakers for the March 7, Collaborative meeting are Kaysee and Norio Morota and Lisa Adams, of “Friends of the Park” homeless outreach in Carlsbad. The event is free and open to the public. All are welcome and coffee and pastries are available.

Kaysee Morota is the Pastor of the Community of Christ in Carlsbad. She and her husband, Norio, are engaged in a year-round ministry to assist homeless individuals and families in meeting their daily needs, help them find services that might be available to them help them secure lodging, employment and future stability. Lisa Adams works tireless as a…

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Three Local Women to Receive Awards at March 23 Gala

Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland will hand out three education grants of $5,000 each to three recipients, all of whom are single head-of-household women who have overcome enormous obstacles and are trying to better their lives and the lives of their children, at the club’s annual “Live Your Dream” Awards Gala on to be held Saturday, March 23, 2019 from 5 pm to 10 pm at the Vista Optimist Club, 600 Optimist Way, Vista. 

Order tickets at

Tickets are still available for the Gala. Tickets are $85 per plate, and Table Sponsorships are still available for $800 per table of 8. Proceeds benefit future education awards for women. Event sponsors are Tri-City Medical Center, Modern Builders Supply, Tri-City Realty and California Real Estate Services.

Guests are urged to choose from one of three “Main Course” options by March 9th.After that date there will be no guarantee but the Beef option will be the most plentiful (and good!)

Guests will begin their Gala experience with a 5 p.m. Welcome Reception with no-host bar, music, passed tray appetizers, and Silent Auction and Cork Pull. Dinner and dessert will be served concurrently with the award presentations. “The Optimist Club, a beautiful venue located in the heart of Vista’s Shadowridge community, is preparing an awesome menu for us, featuring their famous slow-cooked Beef Short Ribs,” said Soroptimist Paula Nix. “Non-meat eaters can choose the Salmon or Ravioli options if they reserve by March 9,” she added. “Our silent auction items include a beautiful handmade quilt, a ‘Man Crate,’ a Luxury Wine Basket, hand-crafted jewelry, and more.”

Tickets are available online at or by contacting Gala Co-Chair Paula Nix at 760-500-0013 or emailing


(Their names have been changed to protect their privacy).

“Ruby” is pursuing a BA in Criminal Justice at Cal State San Marcos, while supporting three children with only scant financial help from her ex-husband, whom she divorced after he succumbed to alcohol and substance abuse. After being in “survival mode” following a traumatic divorce, Ruby, determined to improve her employment prospects, enrolled in classes. She earned her Paralegal Certificate (and made the Dean’s List) and now her long-term goal is to become a lawyer. “There is nothing that I want more than to be able to succeed, stabilize a good career with benefits, and provide a better life for my children. I want to be a positive role model and someone that they admire,” she said.

Theresa” escaped from a domestic violence situation and is now working part-time while residing with her four young daughters at Solutions for Change homeless shelter. The Solutions program has given her breathing room and the opportunity to enter a 2-year nursing program at Palomar College, with the goal of eventually becoming a Registered Nurse. “I am showing my girls that no matter what happens in life, to never give up on your dream and to keep going,” said Theresa.

Melissa” is a single mother of two studying Marketing at Palomar College after escaping an abusive husband. “Since I was young, I have loved everything related to business, art, and technology,” said Melissa. She plans to earn a Certificate in Social Media, Entrepreneurship and E-Marketing at Palomar College and then transfer to Cal State San Marcos for a BA in Graphic Design, and eventually earn a Masters in Business Marketing. Her dream is to be an e-commerce entrepreneur. Her natural aptitude for graphic design and computer software has allowed her to earn money as a freelance graphic designer, but the Live Your Dream cash award will help pay her books, tuition, transportation, bills, and allow her to focus on her studies more. “I am setting an example for my kids of good values, attitudes, and behaviors, and I see these reflected in the way they behave in school, their relationships, how they make difficult decisions, and when talking in therapy about their dad who abused us,” she said, proudly. “I’m showing my kids how to work wisely, and despite struggles and ups and downs, to just keep on going to achieve their goals.”


Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland (SI Vista/NCI) was chartered on March 23, 1953. 2019 marks the club’s 66th year of service to the community. We are a dynamic group of professional business women who seek to make a difference in our community through offering scholarships and grants to women in need and by raising awareness and educating the public about issues affecting women and girls, such as domestic violence and human trafficking. Funds are raised through our annual salad luncheon for the public, Casino Night, Scrip sales, and other club and personal fundraising projects. The club meets for lunch the first and third Friday of each month at Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista. For more information see or email

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