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Loomis Soroptimist Club Celebrates 40 Years of Service

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(LOOMIS, CA) -Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin (SILB) celebrated its 40th Birthday with over 60 attendees on April 16 at Venita Rhea's in Rocklin, CA. At the event, Eileen Elder, president, welcomed five charter members, 19 past-presidents, members and guests.

There are 80,000 Soroptimists in 120 countries who support community-based and global projects benefiting women and girls. 

 The club volunteers raise funds and contribute them back to the community as well as support international projects. Debi Schneider reported that over $96,000 has been offered in scholarships and donated to local elementary and middle school teachers through grants to support ongoing classroom projects.

 In addition, the club has donated $365,000 to many organizations over its 40 year history including Del Oro High School, Kids First, The Loomis L.I.F.E. Center, Koinonia Foster Youth, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Cancer Society, Red Cross and many more. International projects include contributing to solar oven and clean water projects, and other Soroptimist International projects to stop sex trafficking and domestic violence as well as help those affected by disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti and in Japan.   

At the celebration, the club received proclamations from the Town of Loomis; Congressman Tom McClintock; California State Assembly Member Beth Gaines; and California State Senator Ted Gains acknowledging 40 years of inspiring service to the community. 

Past-president and current member, Rhonda Morillas has belonged to the club since its inception and explained that the Rocklin Loomis club was chartered in 1974 with 26 members. The club's first president, Betty Holihan was among the attendees. 

 "The first fundraiser was a Mexican dinner that eventually evolved into Tostada Bingo, a fundraiser held just last month," said Morillas. "In 1975, the club started the Senior L.I.F.E. (Leisure, Interests, Friends & Education) Center in Loomis and continues to support it with funds as well as supplying meals." During its first 10 years, the club also contributed to Save the Del Oro Pool, helped purchase Jaws of Life for the Loomis Fire Department, and furnished the Rocklin and Loomis Libraries' children's sections.

 The club activities from 1985 to 1994 were described by past-president Ginger Abalkhail. "Our members were impressive women, one and all," said Abalkhail. "One of our past-presidents, Marion Glover, became Governor of the Sierra Nevada region and later served as president of the Soroptimist International of the Americas Foundation (" She described amusing stories about the club's bus trip to attend the regional meeting in Elko, NV and dressing up as clowns to attend the West Sacramento club's installation dinner. The club funded many projects and scholarships during these years.

 Chris Hebard-Summer, past-president, recalled the Loomis Soroptimist's activities from 1995 to 2004. "The Club established our flagship teacher grant program in 1998," said Hebard-Summers. "We donated more than $3,000 that first year, but most importantly, the program continues today." To raise funds, the club hosted fashion shows, and in 1997 the Raiderettes and the Kings Fastback Dancers were the models. During that era, the club also donated $15,000 to Del Oro High School to complete the soccer field lights. "In 2003, the club started the 'Totes for Kids' program which over the next several years touched the lives of hundreds of displaced children in our local area," said Hebard-Summers.

 Recent club activities, from 2005 to 2014, were described by Jenny Knisley, past-president. Fundraising projects during this era included "Taste of the Vine" and pouring beer at Loomis events such as the Loomis Eggplant Festival and Family Fest. "In 2009-10, we changed our name from Rocklin Loomis to Loomis Basin and then supported Rocklin volunteers in chartering a new club," said Knisley. "In addition to continuing traditional projects, the club also hosted Purse Extravaganza fundraisers, helped with the Red, White & Blue Dances to recognize veterans and decorated dorm rooms for former foster youth enrolled at Sierra College."

 Karen Fraser-Middleton, member, offered the toast to celebrate 40 years of contributions. "To those pioneers who blazed the trail and those who inspired us afterwards, congratulations on an amazing 40 year tradition of service to our community, the region and the world," said Fraser-Middleton. "We wish this dynamic club many more years of leadership, service and friendship." 

About Soroptimist International Loomis Basin

Those interested in learning more about the Loomis SI club are invited to join the club's weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 8 a.m. at the Train Depot at the corner of Taylor and Horseshoe Bar Roads in Loomis. On the second Wednesday, the club holds an evening meeting at 5:30 PM at Lorenzo's Mexican Restaurant in Loomis. For information about Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin, go to or contact Eileen Elder, President at (916) 652-4509.

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