We invited one of our youngest and newest members (Jaclyn) to share with our community her perspective as a volunteer and a community member.

Soroptimist! I like to think of it as my sisterhood of optimists, which really is what we are. “Best for women,” is what it really means.

Fitting in has been something I never felt suited me. Even if I wanted to fit into a specific group, there would be some quirk that would make me feel I didn’t belong. We have been on lockdown on and off for 2 years this month. People have had to endure struggles of this new adaptation and like me I am sure there are others who have struggled much more than I could imagine.

Personal relationships and not graduating university have taken a toll on my mental health in the past. People constantly tell us we need education to get anywhere in society. Some institutions are not for everyone and it has taken a while for me to realize. Recently, I’d heard a saying that people expect too much out of their jobs or personal relationships. I realized I needed a place where I could go to get out of my own head space. Having an urge to help others has always been on my mind but I never found a place to utilize my time.

One evening I was searching local Peterborough groups that I could focus on in my spare time after work and on weekends. At the very bottom of the list is Soroptimist International of Peterborough. Soroptimist International, has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations and is a recognized authority on matters that women value most. When I read that they have consultative status at the UN I got very excited. I got in contact with the group and they were very welcoming women. For someone who likes to keep to herself, it is a wonderful social gathering if anything.

In 1921, the first Soroptimist club, Alameda County was formed in California with over 80 business and professional women from in and around the city of Oakland, with Violet Richardson as the first President. At that time, you had to be in a profession and membership was somewhat restrictive.  Younger women could join a Venture Club, until they were established and invited to join Soroptimist.

Our Peterborough group was founded in 1946. Many of our local members started out in the Venture Club and worked their way up to becoming a Soroptimist. It is very commendable work to know these women endured social stigmas just so they could become a Soroptimist and keep our local group going.

The Peterborough Soroptimist club works with local organizations, help local shelters and are notified of any placements where volunteers are needed.  Not only do the Soroptimists accept donations on their website, but the members themselves donate quite a lot. An inventive idea they had for their Christmas auction (following Covid-19 protocols) this year was doing a silent auction with bought items or homemade items. Only members were allowed at the dinner, so, no one left until everything was purchased. It is amazing to witness the work completed by these local ladies.

Time keeps ticking and restrictions are being lifted, hopefully the fog will clear soon. Soroptimist International of Peterborough will keep going and will need new volunteers as the years go on. Many of the members have been there 25-40 years. They have put in a lot of work to the organization and it is time the younger generations give back as well. Personally, I would like to sew useful items to sell in order to make donations. Any thoughts to build up donations is appreciated. Members come to meetings when they can and are as involved in activities as they are able.

We will need new minds with creative ideas going forward. For me, the Soroptimists will be a part of my legacy and I would love to be a long-time member like so many before me.  No matter where my career path takes me, I can rely on my ladies for advice and keep pushing forward knowing that there are people out there that need our help.

Jaclyn Hamblin