Soroptimist Salad Bar Luncheon April 20

2017 SBL Sponsorship flyer.revJPH.jpg

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Single Parent Network Fundraiser March 15 – 19 at Palomar Pizza in Vista

Vista, CA March 15, 2017–One of our 2017 Live Your Dream recipients, Alisha Donaldson, has formed a support group for single parent head of households attending local colleges. She’s arranged a fundraiser for the group. See below for details and spread the word!

Palomar Pizza. TSPN Fundraiser-updated

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Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland Awards $26,500 to Six Local Women

2017 Soroptimist Women's Award Gala

L-R: Awardees Alisha Donaldson and son, Blanca Gonzalez and daughter, Michelle Glathe, Rachelle Schull, Eleyna Smith (not her real name) and son, Nicole Galicia and Soroptimist co-president Runa Gunnars. A total of $26,500 was distributed to to the six local women to help further their education and training. Donaldson, Gonzalez and Smith received the club’s Live Your Dream awards, while Glathe, Schull and Galicia received awards from the Club’s Foundation, a separate entity.

Vista, California, February 19, 2017—Six local women were honored at Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland’s annual Soroptimist Women’s Award Gala (SWAG) held Sunday, February 19, at Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista. About 80 guests, including Vista Mayor Judy Ritter, attended the $35 per ticket luncheon, which had a Hollywood theme and several celebrity look-a-likes in attendance, a ballroom dance demonstration, Academy Awards-related trivia quiz for prizes, a $250 “Money Bouquet” raffle, and a Dessert Dash with tables bidding on the right to pick first from an array of desserts made or donated by members.The featured event was the presentation of the Club’s annual “Live Your Dream” Award to three single mothers who are all attending local colleges. As presenter Aleta Dirdo explained, the Live Your Dream award assists women who have overcome great obstacles and are the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education and employment prospects. Each of the three awardees received a $5,000 check and award certificate as well as a proclamation from Vista mayor Judy Ritter.

Eleyna Smith (not her real name) of Escondido is the single mom of a 9-year-old son. She asked that we not publish her real name for safety reasons. “Eleyna” grew up in a broken, dysfunctional home, with an angry, unaffectionate and abusive mother and an often absent father. She suffered emotional and physical abuse from her mom, and was physically abused, and molested by, an older brother. All of this she kept secret. Becoming pregnant at the age of 15 increased her mother’s rage at her and she was kicked out of the house. Her son’s father is only sporadically involved in their son’s life and struggles with addiction issues, making their relationship even worse. As a result, her young son is struggling with depression and anger, for which he is seeing a therapist.

“It is hard watching my son suffer,” said Eleyna, “but I will never leave his side. He is my life, my strength, and my everything. For him, I completed high school and received my diploma, in spite of my mom saying that I never would.” Eleyna currently attends Palomar Community College while working part-time, and plans to transfer in two years to UCSD to complete her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. “My goal is to continue through Medical School to become a Psychiatrist. My desire to go into this profession stems from my desire to serve people in my community who have suffered from similar abuse,” she said. “For every negative person in my life who has told me I cannot make it, to quit school, and who has pushed me down, I want to prove them wrong. I want my son to know that no matter how hard life gets and in spite of outside negativity, nothing in this world can stop him from being successful,” she added.

Blanca Gonzalez of San Marcos is the single mom of 5-year-old Priscilla. Blanca is attending Cal State San Marcos, where she maintains a high G.P.A. (3.3 overall; 3.9 in her major) in pursuit of her B.A. in Environmental Studies, a subject she is passionate about (among other things, she is working on is a Geographical Information Systems research project where she will map 6,000 of the City of Vista’s 19,000 trees that are in public areas to help with the city’s climate action plan goal to preserve and increase the amount of urban forest within the City.) Getting pregnant at age 16 has resulted in a series of challenges for Blanca; she has had to support herself and her daughter and endure years of unstable housing situations, moving frequently. Money is a constant problem, and she worries about the effect on young Priscilla. “I do not receive any monetary support from my family, and I have never received child support from my daughter’s father. I was fortunate enough to receive a paid internship while having three other paying jobs last semester….My ultimate goal is to fulfill our dream of having a steady place of our own by graduating college without the stress of unstable housing. In addition, a degree will allow me to have the credentials needed to hold a position that can allow me educate the community on sustainable planning and environmental education,” she said.

Alisha Donaldson of Vista is a single mom of a 6-year-old son. Raised by a single parent father until age 11, Alisha had a rough time when her father remarried and she was kicked out of the house while a freshman in college. She dropped out of college and had to fend for herself, working two jobs. She became pregnant, and after giving birth became very ill. Diagnosed as having ulceritive colitis, and then later Crohn’s Disease, she eventually underwent a total proctocolectomy with ileostomy surgery. After recovering from that drastic and life-changing surgery, she managed to return to work and to college. “I recently graduated from Cuyamaca College in June 2015 with 4 Associate degrees, and was accepted into Cal State San Marcos,” Alisha said. She is pursuing a BS degree in Social Sciences with emphasis in Communication, and secondary studies in Sociology and Psychology. “I remain a single mother, with full custody of my son. I work three jobs: one on campus at CSUSM as a student mentor, one off campus as an executive assistant, and one as owner of my own small cleaning business,” she said. She has created a Facebook awareness/support page to keep in contact with other people with chronic illnesses who live with an ileostomy. She is also organizing The Single Parent Network on campus, partnering with other on-campus organizations recently to host a Student Parent Mixer to get more parents networking. “I do my best to stay positive and think positive and encourage and support others around me,” Alisha said. “My goals in life are to show those who have gone through hardships and struggles, that although times can be very hard, that you can still do anything you set your mind to.”

The Club’s Foundation, a separate entity established as a testamentary trust when long-time Soroptimist Lucille Strachan passed away in 1983, then awarded $5,000 apiece to graduate nursing students Nicole Galicia and Michelle Glathe, and a $1,500 grant to Rachelle Schull, for graduate work in Special Education.

Gala Committee members were Pat Origlieri and Assly Sayyar (co-Chairs), Dyana Preti, Karen Thompson, Cherie Wilson, Catherine Manis, Nelly Jarrous and Lani Beltrano.

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Male Survivor of Sex Trafficking to Speak at March 2 Collaborative Meeting


Grandville (Tom) Jones

by Kaye Van Nevel

Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland will host the North County Anti-Human Trafficking Collaborative meeting on Thursday, March 2, 9:00 a.m., at United Methodist Church of Vista, 490 S. Melrose Ave., Vista. The event is free to the public, and coffee and pastries will be provided.

Our guest speaker will be Grandville (Tom) Jones. As a survivor of sex trafficking, Tom courageously reached out and founded The H.O.P.E Project (Healing, Outreach and Peer Empowerment) to create an open and safe space for men to talk about being sexually exploited and work through their deep feelings of shame and secrecy to be able to begin healing.

He is actively engaged in the effort to reduce the demand side of sex trafficking and prostitution activities as well as combatting the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). He has joined forces with many local and national organizations whose aims are to challenge the thinking of men and boys by means of innovative techniques that yield measurable and meaningful results.

Tom has partnered with North County Lifeline’s Project Life. He is a program participant at the Prostitution Impact Panel (P.I.P., aka “John School”), lead organizer of the “Freedom NOW Fair, ” a Human Trafficking Awareness Street Fair, and leads bi-weekly “Cyber Patrols” which is staffed by men who volunteer to answer strategically placed ads on social media sites, soliciting buyers for under-age girls and women. The volunteers advise the callers that they are now known buyers, their phone numbers and names are on record, and there are services available to them to aid in stopping their part in exploiting young girls and women.

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Heidi Cramer of Palomar Health to Speak at February Program Meeting


Heidi Cramer

Feb. 9, 2017Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland will host Heidi Cramer, Director of Major Giving for Palomar Health Foundation, at the club’s February program luncheon at Shadowridge Golf Club, 1980 Gateway Drive in Vista on Friday, February 17 at noon. Ms. Cramer will speak about Palomar’s Forensic Health Services, which serves local adult/child victims of violence through its Child Abuse Program and Sexual Assault Response programs.

Lunch is $15. For reservations contact Sherry Luz, at 760-295-2822 or email

Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland (SIVNCI) is a dynamic group of women who seek to make a difference in our community through offering scholarships and grants to disadvantaged women and by raising awareness and educating the public about issues affecting women and girls, such as domestic violence and human trafficking. The Club meets at 12 noon every first Friday at ServPro of Carlsbad in Vista, and every third Friday at Shadowridge Country Club. For more information visit or call Thoralinda Soyland at 760-809-8146.

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Soroptimist Women’s Award Gala to Award $26,100 to Six Women


VISTA, California, January 22, 2017—Soroptimist International of Vista and North County will hand out $26,100 in scholarships and grants at its annual “Live Your Dream” Soroptimist Awards Gala (S.W.A.G.) to be held Saturday, February 19th from 11 am to 1 pm at Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista.


Three local college students who are single moms will each receive $5,000 “Live Your Dream” awards from Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland.

A total of $26,500 to be awarded this year! We will be presenting 3 deserving women with “Live Your Dream” awards of $5,000 each to further their education and job training. In addition, three additional women will receive scholarship awards totalling $11,500 for graduate school from our club’s Foundation. (Two will get $5,000 each, awarded to college seniors or graduate level students in the medical/health fields or English majors, and another will receive $1,500 awarded to students in the field of special education.)

The three “Live Your Dream” awardees (pictured above) are all local college students from Vista, San Marcos and Escondido who have overcome enormous obstacles and are trying to better their lives and the lives of their children. (The Foundation’s awardees are still being notified and will be introduced at the banquet.)

The Oscar-themed luncheon will include Entertainment, Lunch, a Dessert Dash and Gift Basket Raffle.

Tickets are $35 per person, which includes lunch and beverage. Tickets are available for purchase online at or by calling Gala Chair Pat Origlieri at 760-941-4142. SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MENU CHOICES.



Artichoke Chicken with Chardonnay Cream Sauce,
Potato Mash and French Green Beans (Gluten Free)
Artichoke Chicken WITHOUT Chardonnay Cream Sauce,
with Potato Mash and French Green Beans (Gluten Free)
Wild Mushroom Ravioli in burgundy butter sauce
with crispy sage (Vegetarian).

You may also donate your meal
if you cannot attend or wish to sponsor a previous awardee.

Purchase tickets online at

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11th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Walk

January 21, 2017–The 11th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Walk enjoyed a large turnout and sunny skies this afternoon as about 100 people gathered in front of Vista’s Wave Waterpark to register and collect their “HONK to STOP Human Trafficking” signs. The group walked from the Wave Waterpark, to Vista Way up to Civic Center Drive and back. Motorists honked their support as they drove by. The annual event is a Program of Service of Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland‘s Human Rights/Status of Women Committee.

Information tables were set up at the Wave Waterpark so people could register and collect their signs. A $10 donation was requested but not required. Also available were STOP TRAFFICKING tee shirts and grocery bags. Kaye Van Nevel, who has spearheaded the club’s anti-human trafficking efforts tirelessly for over a decade, gave a small informational talk to the crowd, which included citizens young and old from Vista, San Marcos, Escondido and Fallbrook, as well as from South County.  “We were a little worried about the turnout this year, because of the weather and the other women’s marches going on today…but this was a great turnout, the weather cooperated, and we expect even more next year,” said member Jackie Huyck. Entire families participated, including children and pets.

Vista Mayor Judy Ritter arrived in time to greet the walkers at the end of the walk and issue an official proclamation, thanking Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland and the North County Human Trafficking Collaborative, and proclaiming January 2017 as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Vista. (View video here: )

More photos are posted on the club’s photo album web page here:

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