By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
Kent and Queen Anne’s counties have gained a valuable volunteer and advocate for women and girls.
Jodi Olson, director of pre-health professions program at Washington College, is now a volunteer in the Soroptimist International of Kent and Queen Anne’s counties group. Olson works with several WC campus entities to ensure the pre-health students can achieve success in the pursuit of a career in various regards of health care. She advises students throughout the process, from course requirements, to entrance exams, to application timelines, and other application components.
“I know Jodi is going to be a valued part of our club, and we look forward to working with her. Our club is always looking for new members and welcome the chance to meet new people,” said Louise Skinner, president of Soroptimist International of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties.
Soroptimist, which means “best for women,” International is a volunteer organization that works to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world through social and economic empowerment programs. Soroptimist International dedicates its time to major service initiatives, such as Live Your Dream, the signature project for the Soroptimist club awarded to a female head-of-household entering or continuing her education.
The club also recognizes women for a variety of other awards. Young women between the ages of 14 and 17 who are active volunteers are eligible for the Violet Richardson Award. The Ruby Award, also known as Women Helping Women, is a community award given annually to a woman who is making a difference in the lives of other women and girls through professional or volunteer efforts.
As a new member, Olson will be helping during Saturday morning breakfasts at the local homeless shelters.
In order to become a Soroptimist, the applicant must be a woman, complete an application, pay annual dues, and want to be a part of a global organization that works to improve the lives of women and girls, according to Connie Jones, chairwoman for the Live Your Dream program.
A significant amount of the work Soroptimist International does is related to raising awareness of challenging issues for women, such as the practice of sex trafficking, for which the Soroptimist International of the Americas has launched a project to increase awareness.
The club also focuses on domestic violence awareness and prevention as a “focal point at the club, region and international level of the Soroptimist organization,” according to their mission statement. The Kent County club produces and distributes teen dating bookmarks that lists signs of a potentially abusive relationship versus signs of a healthy relationship.
“If you raise a woman up, it helps her family and in return, it helps the community,” Skinner said.
The newest program of the club is Dream It Be It, a career support program to help girls grow to be strong, successful adults by providing role models, career education, and resources to live their dreams.
The club’s international involvement includes making pillowcase dresses to send to developing countries for young girls in poverty-stricken areas.
The club received the community service award from the Kent County Chamber of Commerce for events such as Make a Difference Day in Queen Anne’s County, volunteering at local homeless shelters during the winter months with Saturday breakfasts, and participating in WC’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.
“Our club is very happy to have Jodi join us. She has been a great asset so far and I know the future will be wonderful,” Skinner said.