Soroptimist International of La Jolla (SILJ) was founded and chartered by Genevieve “Jenny” Ferguson on May 2, 1947. One of 1,300 clubs worldwide, we have studied the needs in our community, identified other non-profits who share our mission, and worked with them by providing awareness, time, effort, and funding.
In the 1950s, we started a meeting place for seniors, the Riford Senior Center, today the La Jolla Community Center. We also helped build Parker Auditorium at La Jolla High School.
In 1969, in honor of San Diego’s Bicentennial, SILJ convinced the merchants in La Jolla to display American flags in front. We had the holes dug, bought and distributed the flags and maintained them for many years. Reader’s Digest recognized our patriotism by publishing a story and photos about our “Avenue of Flags.”
In the 1980s, we found ways to have fun and raise funds, by producing the Village Vaudeville, starring our members and residents.
In the 1990s we saw a need to increase awareness and research into women’s health. We held a symposium, in conjunction with the UCSD School of Medicine and founded the Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health, and named it after our member and mentor, Dr. Doris Howell.
We spent a four year period mentoring the “Just In Time” for Foster Youth Organization, to help young women who have “aged out” of the system. We helped transition to independent housing, navigating the first years of college, and overall life skills to become self-sufficient.
Since 2010 we have embarked upon a quest to rescue and prevent girls and young women from coercion into sexual exploitation and forms of human slavery. We supported and worked with the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition to establish a thrift store and renovate the shelter it operates. We landscaped the facility, added a safe playground for the children, making it more secure and more like a home for the women and children. SILJ along with a couple of other local Soroptimist clubs, founded STAT (Soroptimists Together Against Trafficking). STAT works with a consortium of organizations, including victim services providers, educators, prosecution and law enforcement. STAT represents local Soroptimist clubs on the San Diego Regional Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
Since 2015 we’ve been focused on women serving our country in the military. Re-entry to civilian life is challenging, especially for women. The National Veterans Transition Service Inc. assists veterans in a smooth transition to the civilian world by providing them with a three-phase intensive program. They “REBOOT” them. The REBOOT workshops have had a 97% success record by addressing personal, lifestyle and career issues. SILJ is proud to sponsor women in these workshops, mentor the graduates, and help with “a day of beauty.”
Celebrating over 70 years in La Jolla, our club is a member of Soroptimist International of the Americas, a global women’s organization of volunteers.