The word “Soroptimist” is a coined term meaning “the best for women.” Soroptimist is an international volunteer service organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.
The Soroptimist organization was founded in 1921 in Oakland, California, by a group of businesswomen who wanted to have a service club similar to those already in existence for men. It has grown from one club to 100,000 members in 120 countries throughout the world.
Soroptimist focuses on helping to improve the lives of women and girls, helps women achieve economic and political equality, serves as a global voice for women, provides leadership development opportunities for women, and works toward world peace and understanding. This is accomplished through education, scholarships and involvement in community and international service projects.
San Luis Obispo
Our Club’s Beginning ~ 1943
Several letters were exchanged during 1942 in an attempt to get information and instructions for the formation of a Soroptimist Club in San Luis Obispo. Emma McChesney, as temporary chairman of the interested group, continually communicated with the Regional Director and the Chairman of Public Relations of the Federation of the Americas, May Schaeffer.
Finally a letter dated April 30, 1943, from May Schaeffer to secretary elect Emma McChesney, stated “First of all ‘Congratulations’ it is a grand feeling to know a club is born in San Luis Obispo… I am delighted that Elise Hewitt saw the way to membership and to be your first president.”
The installation and Charter presentation by May Overhouse of Salinas, our sponsoring club, was held with 18 members all resent and 49 guests on May 25, 1943. Several city officials and Soroptimist dignitaries were present.